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WUSF Public Media is focused on empowering your participation in democracy this election season. We’ve created places where you can ask questions about the election process, the issues and candidates. That feedback will inform the reporting you see here. We’re listening.

Why elections aren't really over on Election Day

People casting their votes at polling booths
WUSF Staff
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Several local contests and a few congressional and state house races are expected to close, perhaps requiring recounts or legal challenges.

While most races are "called" on election night, that's done by the media or the candidates themselves. The only counters who count — local supervisors of elections — can take several days to post who won.

"Unofficial" results have to be reported to the state by four days after the election, said Craig Latimer, supervisor of elections for Hillsborough County.

"We have to have our first unofficial results reported to the state no later than four days after the election," he said. "And it would at that point that we'd also see if we need a recount, possibly. And the reason they go to the state is that you have, oftentimes, state House seats or Senate seats that cross county lines."

And Latimer says "official" returns take even longer.

"In a federal election, we're able to receive overseas military ballots for up to 10 days after the election, as long as they're postmarked by election day," he said. "So the results will not be "official" anywhere in the state until 10 days after the election."

Several local contests and a few congressional and state house races are expected to close, perhaps requiring recounts or legal challenges.

Two Congressional races that are expected to be close are District 15, in northern Hillsborough, parts of Pasco and Polk counties, pitting former Secretary of State Laurel Lee (R), vs former television reporter Alan Cohn (D).

And in Charlie Crist's former district in Pinellas, Anna Paulina Luna (R) is facing Eric Lynn, (D), a former Obama official.

Our journalists are independent, curious, respectful, and accountable to you. We’re committed to keeping you at the center of this conversation on democracy, staying in touch through surveys, social media, and in-person events. We won’t be chasing politicians, but instead we’ll tell stories based on the questions you want answered.

Steve Newborn is a WUSF reporter and producer at WUSF covering environmental issues and politics in the Tampa Bay area.
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