DORAL (CBSMiami) – The staff at Miami-Dade’s election department are working around the clock to complete a machine recount of the ballots before the Thursday deadline.
At 8:12 p.m. Tuesday night, Xavier Pichs processed what is likely the last ballot of the Miami-Dade recount.
Election officials predicted that the finish could come sometime in the evening, but not that early.
One-by-one workers finished their boxes of ballots while others exited the election department in mass.
Next on the agenda is the potential hand counts in at least two, if not three, close Florida races.
On Tuesday morning, Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez held a news conference to give voters an update on the recount process.
“I am happy and confident with our team, we are following procedures and every Miami-Dade County voter should be proud of our Elections Department,” said Gimenez. “We are ahead of schedule. We are confident that we are going to get this recount done right and on time. I am very proud of our team.”
As of 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday, they still have to scan an estimated 53,000 over-under ballots.
Currently they are working on 12-hour shifts.
The over-under ballots are those where the voter either filled in two or more blanks, or left some selections entirely blank.
The board has to examine a “handful,” far less than a hundred, damaged ballots that got wrinkled in the machine.
They have to make the determination on what the voter intended.
WATCH MAYOR CARLOS GIMENEZ’S COMMENTS IN THE VIDEO PLAYER BELOW
Election officials say they are done with the initial recount of vote-by-mail and Election Day ballots. They are now working on Early Voting ballots.
The county got five more high-speed ballot-counting machines on Monday, bringing the total amount of high-speed machines to 14, and they expect to have machine recount done sometime Wednesday, a full day before the deadline.
Florida’s Republican Lieutenant Governor Carlos Lopez-Cantera chided those county election departments that are lagging behind.
“For another county that is saying they may not be able to [meet the deadline], they should look at the county that had the most ballots to count to see how it is done,” said Lopez-Cantera.
Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner ordered recounts from 67 elections departments after receiving unofficial vote tallies on Saturday.
State law requires a recount when candidates are within one-half point when all the votes are counted. If reaches .5 percent, it automatically triggers a statewide machine recount. If it goes within .25, it triggers a manual recount.
Recounts were triggered because vote totals in three of the state’s main races were separated by less than half a percentage point.
Unlike Broward County where there have been loud protests and unsubstantiated charges of fraud in the elections office, Miami-Dade County’s recount process is running like a well-oiled machine.
Miami-Dade went very blue in the general election, with Democrats taking statewide races by a margin of about 40%.
The races which are being recounted are for the US Senate race between Gov. Rick Scott and U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, Ron DeSantis and Andrew Gillum for Governor, and Matt Caldwell and Nikki Fried for Commissioner of Agriculture.
The deadline to finish the machine recount is 3 p.m. Thursday.
Once the machine recount is completed, a hand recount will be ordered if the differences in any of the races are 0.25 percentage points or below. Results for races that need hand recounts are due on November 18th. Currently, the Senate and Agriculture Commissioner races are close enough that they will need a manual recount.