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Broward County Misses Deadline For Machine Recount By Two Minutes

Nov 15, 2018
Originally published on December 15, 2018 10:36 am

This story was updated at 6:20 p.m.

After initially saying earlier Wednesday that it met a state deadline to recount three statewide races, Broward County issued a stunning reversal later in the afternoon.

The county says it missed by two minutes a 3 p.m. deadline to upload the election results to the state’s Division of Elections. As a result, the state rejected the recounted results and is instead relying on the election results provided by the county on Saturday, said Joe D’Alessandro, the county’s director for election planning and development.

"What caused it was my unfamiliarity with" the state's website, D'Alessandro told Broward's election canvassing board. "Basically I just worked my ass off for nothing." 

Broward raced over the past five days to meet the deadline with workers sorting and running ballots through counting machines almost 24 hours a day. Now it joins Palm Beach and Hillsborough as three of the only counties in the state to not submit the results in time. 

A manual recount is now expected to begin Friday morning for the tight Senate and agriculture commissioner races and another for a West Park city commission seat. 

The missed deadline on Thursday came after the county experienced a two-day delay to its recount process.

Secretary of State Ken Detzner announced the statewide recount on Saturday for races where the difference between candidates fell below a margin of 0.5 percentage points. Broward’s elections office fell behind other county election departments after it spent Sunday and Monday just separating the ballots’ first page, which includes all three races.

In a drama-filled day, Broward initially appeared on track to meet the deadline after the elections office said it recounted nearly  all of the ballotss by around 1 a.m. Thursday. The office then announced at 2:45 p.m. that it was in the process of transmitting vote results to the state and it met the deadline.

Almost three hours later, D'Alessandro said otherwise.  

When asked by a reporter what she thought about the missed deadline, Snipes said, "I would love a comment on all this too." 

"Our staff worked extremely hard to accomplish what we have accomplished in a very tight timeline," she added, noting that the election results were being transmitted to the state as the deadline passed. 

Broward is now expected to start the hand recount on Friday at 7 a.m., ahead of a Sunday state deadline. The process will involve the county's canvassing board reviewing and counting undervotes and overvotes to determine voters' intent. An overvote occurs when a voter marks off two candidates  for one race, while an undervote happens when no vote is cast for a single contest.

While Broward rushed to finish the machine recount, lawsuits over the election continued in North Florida. 

A federal judge ruled on Thursday that Florida’s elections supervisors must give thousand of voters two extra days to fix problems with their signatures on their mail-in and provisional ballot envelopes. County canvassing boards rejected more than 3,700 such ballots because voters’ signatures did not match those on file with the state.

Judge Mark Walker said the counties unconstitutionally applied the law that provides steps for voters to fix the signature problems.

People initially had until the day before Election Day to cure the signature problem. They now have until Saturday at 5 p.m.

Walker’s ruling was a victory for Sen. Bill Nelson who trails Gov. Rick Scott by more than 12,000 votes in the Senate race. Nelson sued to have the signature requirement voided. Other progressive groups have said signatures change over time and the requirement suppresses voting.

Still, it’s unlikely Nelson will be able to make up his deficit against Scott with any extra votes that are counted after Walker’s ruling.

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