Florida will now hand count thousands of ballots

Florida  Secretary of State Ken Detzner has ordered thousands of ballots that have been rejected by voting machines to be counted by hand. The state just completed a 5 day recount of the ballots cast for governor, senator, and agriculture commissioner. But with so many of these "ruined" ballots outstanding, Secretary Detzner has ordered them examined by hand.

Tampabay.com

The order gives canvassing boards in the state's 67 counties three days to pore over thousands of ballots that were rejected by machines because of "overvotes" — a voter appears to have chosen more than one candidate in a race — or "undervotes," in which a voter appears to have skipped a race altogether. With the help of state guidelines, the canvassing boards, which are allowed to enlist the help of volunteers, will try to determine how these voters intended to vote.

You may recall the mess made of this process in the 2000 presidential race where "hanging chads" became a buzzword and numerous arguments broke out over "voter intent."

Yikes.

It's not entirely clear how many such overvotes and undervotes exist in the U. S. Senate race. A Times/Herald analysis of state and county data shows the number could be between 35,000 and 118,000 But the determination on how those ballots were cast — and the ability of the state's elections supervisors to get through all the ballots — could go a long way toward deciding whether Nelson is reelected or Scott ascends from governor to U.S. Senator.

Thursday's order has been expected for at least a week. Elections supervisors around the state began bracing for automatic recounts in the hours after the polls closed on the midterm elections, as late-breaking returns out of heavily Democratic Broward and Palm Beach counties slimmed leads by Scott, Caldwell and GOP gubernatorial nominee Ron DeSantis.

Florida law requires a machine recount for any race decided by one half of one percentage point or less, and all three races were within the margins when elections supervisors submitted their unofficial results Saturday to the state. As required by law, Detzner quickly gave the state's canvassing boards five days to run their voting totals again in the three races to confirm whether any fell within one quarter of one percentage point, the margin by which Florida law requires a hand recount.

DeSantis' lead held Thursday as the counties reported their tallies, keeping him above the quarter-point threshold and making him Florida's governor-elect barring a legal challenge from Andrew Gillum. But, as expected, the margins in the U.S. Senate and agriculture commissioner races remained under the threshold, requiring hand recounts of overvotes and undervotes.

Perhaps a lot of people didn't vote for anyone in the governor's race because they didn't like the choice. The same could be said for the senate race. How does anyone know if a voter deliberately left a race blank on the ballot?

Overvotes are easy. Toss them and remind voters that voting is not a multiple choice exercise in democracy. Instead, Florida election workers are going to play mind reader and see how many votes they can squeeze out of these ruined ballots.

We have universal sufferage in the US, which is usually a fine thing. But perhaps there are some people who should have stayed home on election day, rather than cast a confusing ballot that only makes a bad situation in Florida worse.

 

Florida  Secretary of State Ken Detzner has ordered thousands of ballots that have been rejected by voting machines to be counted by hand. The state just completed a 5 day recount of the ballots cast for governor, senator, and agriculture commissioner. But with so many of these "ruined" ballots outstanding, Secretary Detzner has ordered them examined by hand.

Tampabay.com

The order gives canvassing boards in the state's 67 counties three days to pore over thousands of ballots that were rejected by machines because of "overvotes" — a voter appears to have chosen more than one candidate in a race — or "undervotes," in which a voter appears to have skipped a race altogether. With the help of state guidelines, the canvassing boards, which are allowed to enlist the help of volunteers, will try to determine how these voters intended to vote.

You may recall the mess made of this process in the 2000 presidential race where "hanging chads" became a buzzword and numerous arguments broke out over "voter intent."

Yikes.

It's not entirely clear how many such overvotes and undervotes exist in the U. S. Senate race. A Times/Herald analysis of state and county data shows the number could be between 35,000 and 118,000 But the determination on how those ballots were cast — and the ability of the state's elections supervisors to get through all the ballots — could go a long way toward deciding whether Nelson is reelected or Scott ascends from governor to U.S. Senator.

Thursday's order has been expected for at least a week. Elections supervisors around the state began bracing for automatic recounts in the hours after the polls closed on the midterm elections, as late-breaking returns out of heavily Democratic Broward and Palm Beach counties slimmed leads by Scott, Caldwell and GOP gubernatorial nominee Ron DeSantis.

Florida law requires a machine recount for any race decided by one half of one percentage point or less, and all three races were within the margins when elections supervisors submitted their unofficial results Saturday to the state. As required by law, Detzner quickly gave the state's canvassing boards five days to run their voting totals again in the three races to confirm whether any fell within one quarter of one percentage point, the margin by which Florida law requires a hand recount.

DeSantis' lead held Thursday as the counties reported their tallies, keeping him above the quarter-point threshold and making him Florida's governor-elect barring a legal challenge from Andrew Gillum. But, as expected, the margins in the U.S. Senate and agriculture commissioner races remained under the threshold, requiring hand recounts of overvotes and undervotes.

Perhaps a lot of people didn't vote for anyone in the governor's race because they didn't like the choice. The same could be said for the senate race. How does anyone know if a voter deliberately left a race blank on the ballot?

Overvotes are easy. Toss them and remind voters that voting is not a multiple choice exercise in democracy. Instead, Florida election workers are going to play mind reader and see how many votes they can squeeze out of these ruined ballots.

We have universal sufferage in the US, which is usually a fine thing. But perhaps there are some people who should have stayed home on election day, rather than cast a confusing ballot that only makes a bad situation in Florida worse.