Three tight races in Florida could be heading for a recount. As election officials were still scrambling to count ballots on Friday, it appeared that the races for U.S. Senate, governor and agriculture commissioner were close enough to trigger recounts.
Here’s a timeline for how those recounts might work:
Saturday: The first unofficial ballot returns from all counties are due at noon to the State Division of Elections. If the margin in a statewide race is less than 0.5 percent, Secretary of State Ken Detzner would order a machine recount. This recount would include the total of early votes, votes-by-mail, Election Day votes, and provisional ballots.
Thursday: If machine recounts are ordered, the second round of unofficial returns must be completed by 3 p.m. If the margin of victory drops below .25 percent, the state can order a manual recount for federal and state races. For all other races, counties are responsible for ordering recounts.
“If the results are then .25 or less, then it moves to a manual recount, and teams will then go through all of these overvotes and undervotes or blank ballots to make sure there wasn’t any marks on them that the machine missed,” says Craig Latimer, Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections.
An “undervote” means the person didn’t make a choice in one or more races. An “overvote” means the voter picked more than one choice for a race.
If the number of overvotes and undervotes is less than the number of votes needed to change the election outcome, the recount can be cancelled.
Friday, Nov. 16: Overseas and military ballots will be counted. Florida has one of the largest military populations in the U.S; and most ballots that were mailed were returned by Election Day, but there are ballots that can arrive and be considered by Nov. 16 as long as they are postmarked on or before Nov. 6.
“By law we are allowed to accept overseas ballots that are mailed to us in a federal election up to 10 days after the election” Latimer said.
Sunday, Nov. 18: Results from manual recounts and overseas ballots from each county have to be submitted no later than noon.
Tuesday, Nov. 20: Official results from counties are certified by the state. Gov. Rick Scott and two Cabinet members will meet around 9 a.m. to confirm the election results.
In Hillsborough County, a recount is expected in the state senate race between Democrat Janet Cruz and Republican Dana Young because the margin of victory for Cruz falls within half a percentage point.