Hand recounts only would involve a few thousand ballots in Central Florida

Recount in Orange Couinty

Orange, Seminole, Lake, and Osceola counties’ anticipated hand recount of ballots for the Florida gubernatorial and Agriculture Commissioner races would only involve a few thousand ballots out of the nearly 1 million cast in those Central Florida counties.

There were 478,122 ballots cast and machine recounted in Orange County for the Nov. 8 election but the vast majority of those already are considered sound and would be set aside as already cleared if manual recounts are ordered. That means just over 3,000 would have to be manually examined in the U.S. Senate election, and fewer than 16,000 in the Agriculture Commissioner contest.

In Seminole County, 200,986 ballots were cast and machine recounted. It looks as if just over 1,500 votes would need another look in the U.S. Senate election, and a little over 7,000 in the Florida Agriculture Commission election.

In Lake County, 156,247 votes were cast and machine recounted. Just over 1,000 votes would be examined in the U.S. Senate election, and just over 4,000 in the Agriculture Commission contest.

In Osceola County, 116,088 votes were cast and machine recounted. Fewer than 1,000 votes would have to be examined in the U.S. Senate election, and fewer than 3,000 in the Agriculture Commission contest.

The governor’s election, should it tighten into hand-recount territory, has similar numbers of votes to be closely examined as those seen in the U.S. Senate election in each county.

The hand recounts only would review ballots with over votes, ballots in which the machines indicated that voters appeared to vote in that contest but not others; or under votes, ballots in which voters appeard to vote in other contests but not that election.

Barring any surprises, those will only be hand counted only in the two elections, for U.S. Senate and the Florida Agriculture Commission. A hand recount is required only if the statewide differences remain below 0.25 percent of the total of 8.2 million votes cast in Florida. The most recent totals showed the U.S. Senate election decided by a difference of about 0.15 percent, and the Agriculture Commissioner by 0.06 percent, while the governor’s race held a well-over-the-threshold 0.41 percent difference.

Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner will make those final determination after the counties are all to have reported their machine recount totals at 3 p.m. Thursday, though a couple of lawsuits might delay that.

County supervisors of elections say they’re ready in Central Florida.

In Orange the U.S. Senate between Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson and Republican Gov. Rick Scott drew 256 over votes and 2,971 undervotes. In the Agriculture Commission race between Democrat Nikki Fried and Republican state Rep. Matt Caldwell, there are 62 over votes and 15,801 under votes in Orange County.

In Seminole, there were 60 over votes and 1,467 undervotes found in the U.S. Senate election and 12 over votes and 7,203 under votes in the Agriculture Commissioner election.

In Lake, there were 36 under votes and 974 over votes in the U.S. Senate election, and 14 over votes and 4,106 under votes in the Agriculture Commissioner election.

In Osceola, there were 42 under votes and 742 over votes in the U.S. Senate election, and nine under votes and 2,931 under votes in the Agriculture Commission election.

Orange County Supervisor of Elections Bill Cowles intends to start the manual recounts at 8 a.m. Friday.

“I think it will go fairly quickly,” he said. “We’ll have 30 teams. We’ll do it one step at a time and get it done right.”

Lake County Supervisor of Elections Alan Hays said he intends to start manual recounts Thursday night, and if the instructions from the secretary of state allow, he thinks his county might be finished with the U.S. Senate race overnight.

Scott Powers

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at [email protected].


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