TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – As a federal judge weighs whether to extend the deadline to complete a machine recount of ballots, the focus now shifts to a manual recount.
As of the first unofficial county results sent to the state on Saturday, the U.S. Senate race between Gov. Rick Scott and Sen. Bill Nelson and the Agriculture Commissioner race were within the 1/4% margin that would trigger a manual recount. The governor’s race between Andrew Gillum and Ron DeSantis was outside that margin,
However, not all ballots are recounted by hand, and the manual recount is not automatic.
According to Florida Statute 102.166 (1) (b), only under and over-voted ballots are subject to a manual recount, and the recount is only ordered if the total number of questionable ballots is enough to change the outcome of the race.
Undervotes occur when someone casts a vote for some races on the ballot, but not others. Overvotes happen when voters select too many choices in a given race.
Once in the manual recount phase, the Florida Administrative Code gives counties a lot of leeway to determine voter intent when counting ballots by hand.
These examples are all valid votes:
You can see that the voter’s intent is clear in each example, despite that the voter does not always fill in the bubble correctly.
Here are several more examples:
The top vote above is valid, but the bottom is not, since it’s not clear if the person is voting for ‘Lucille Ball’ or crossing her out.
This is a valid vote for ‘Lenny Bruce’ because the voter has crossed out each other option, clearly intending the final choice.
Even writing on the ballot can be accepted, but only when the voter’s intent is clear, as in this example:
The top left and bottom examples are both valid, but the top right is not, since it’s unclear what the voter’s intent was.
Broward County Elections Supervisor Brenda Snipes, a Democrat, has come under fire for several issues in this and previous elections, but it’s the ballot design in her county that could be the difference between Sen. Bill Nelson keeping or losing his Senate seat.
About 25,000 more people voted for governor in Broward County than voted for U.S. Senator, nearly twice the margin that separates the two Senate candidates.
The design of the ballot could be one reason so many people undervoted in that race.
Here’s a sample ballot for Tuesday’s election for Broward residents in the 22nd Congressional District.
People may not have seen the U.S. Senate race because of its position (bottom left) vis a vis the governor’s race.
But the Senate race was there. pic.twitter.com/yo14dIywAD
— Anthony Man (@browardpolitics) November 7, 2018
Watch Politics On Your Side with host Evan Donovan every Sunday morning at 9:30 on WFLA News Channel 8, right before Meet the Press.