Florida election recount nears its conclusion ahead of its Sunday deadline
Lee County Supervisor of Elections submitted its results to Tallahassee on Saturday around 7 p.m. ahead of the hand recount deadline on Sunday at noon. However, there does not appear to be any surprise wins accounting the larger state recount results.
Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, who ran as a Democrat for the Florida Governor race, conceded to his opponent, Republican Ron DeSantis, on Saturday. It comes after a race where President Donald Trump proved to be influential in DeSantis’ success.
In earlier tweets, the Trump questioned the legitimacy of the Florida election recount. But he struck a more conciliatory tone on Saturday.
Congratulations to Andrew Gillum on having run a really tough and competitive race for Governor of the Great State of Florida. He will be a strong Democrat warrior long into the future – a force to reckon with!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 17, 2018
While Senator Bill Nelson also does not appear to have the votes to win the race in the U.S. Senate race, he has yet to concede to his opponent, Governor Rick Scott. In a press conference on Nov. 8, Scott also questioned the legitimacy of the election recount.
“Every Floridian should be concerned there may be rampant fraud happening in Palm Beach and Broward Counties,” Scott said, days before recusing himself from oversight of the election recount process.
Races where the margin is 0.5 percentage points or less, Florida law requires a machine recount. Upon the results, if there remains a difference of 0.25 percentage points or less, then a hand recount is ordered.
Over the last couple days, especially in the most recent final hours, many volunteers have been closely examining the ballots. Their job is tricky as they must determine a voter’s intent when the machine recount device is unable.
Among the reasons for the close examination is voters may have selected multiple candidates, not filled in a bubble properly or selected none at all. After a challenging day, these volunteers hand counted about 10,000 ballots. A process that one constituent said, makes sure every vote counts.
“A check system is gonna be good,” Ron Jackman said, who lives in North Fort Myers. “It’s kind of embarrassing that Florida seems to screw it up every time it is a problem and it really needs to be addressed. These other states can get it done and taken care of. Why can’t Florida get it done without having a problem?”
To determine the voters intent, volunteers were first placed into teams. If the volunteers are unable to reach a consensus on a specific vote then they pass along the ballot to the local Canvassing Board to decipher the ballot.
From the 10,000 ballots in Lee County that were hand counted, about 50 were flagged for review in the Senate race. The Supervisor of Elections said the process took nearly three hours. The takeaway from the process primarily was the additional votes each candidate received.
With the process reaching its conclusion, politicians and constituents may press the Florida election officials to ensure the ballot mismanagement does not happen again. The events following the midterm election, such as the announcement of an additional 2,040 ballots lost or misplaced on Saturday, did not inspire confidence in the legitimacy of elections for many constituents.
“For some reason it happens every four years here,” Gary Ferer said, a North Fort Myers resident. “It’s like, can’t you figure this out from the last time you did this?”