I detailed yesterday how the recount in the Florida senate and governor races have become messy, especially in Broward County.

Now it looks like election officials may have to recount votes by hand instead if the results are too tight.

Incumbent Democrat Sen. Bill Nelson has also demanded that his opponent Governor Rick Scott recuse himself from the recount.

Broward County Elections Supervisor Under Scrutiny Again

The election mess has put the spotlight on Broward County Elections Supervisor Brenda Snipes once again. From The Wall Street Journal:

Ms. Snipes, 68 years old, was appointed to the position in 2003 by then-Gov. Jeb Bush, a Republican, to succeed a supervisor removed after widespread accusations of mismanagement. A former public school administrator and a Democrat, Ms. Snipes garnered praise at first for stabilizing the office and overseeing relatively smooth elections. She has been re-elected several times, most recently in 2016.

In 2004, however, she lost track of 58,000 absentee ballots, blaming the post office for losing them before revising the number of lost ballots to 6,000 and quickly getting replacements to voters. A judge this year ruled that Ms. Snipes violated law by prematurely destroying ballots from a 2016 congressional race that came under court challenge. Ms. Snipes called it a mistake but as a result, Mr. Scott’s office ordered state elections monitors be placed in the county ahead of last week’s voting.

Still, problems arose. Ms. Snipes’s office on Friday mixed 22 rejected provisional ballots with a batch of around 200 valid ones. She deemed it accidental but said the bad ballots, due to signature mismatches and other reasons, couldn’t be identified. Broward County, over the objections of Mr. Scott’s lawyers, included the ballots in its unofficial vote count presented to the state on Saturday. A judge also found Friday that Ms. Snipes violated state law by not turning over ballot information to Mr. Scott’s campaign immediately after the election. No statute addresses such a violation, so the path forward is unclear.

Nelson Demands Scott Recuse Himself

Nelson wants Scott to recuse himself from “any role” during the recount. From CBS News:

The developments make this a tumultuous political moment in Florida. This recount process is unprecedented even in a state notorious for settling elections by razor-thin margins. State officials said they weren’t aware of any other time a race for governor or U.S. Senate required a recount, let alone both in the same election.

In a video statement, Nelson said Scott is “using his power as governor to try to undermine the voting process,” as he called on him to remove himself from the recount. “He’s worried when all the votes are counted, he’ll lose the election,” he said. The Scott campaign said he will be coming to Washington this week to participate in some orientation activities for new members of Congress, including the photo and voting in leadership elections.

Unofficial results showed Republican former U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis ahead of Democratic Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum by 0.41 percentage points in the governor’s contest.

In the Senate race, Scott’s lead over Nelson was 0.14 percentage points.

Manual Recount?

The Miami Herald reported on Monday that Broward County has faced numerous machine glitches that has caused a delay in the recount.

Now the officials face another challenge: triggering of manual votes. From The Miami Herald:

An overvote occurs when a voter marks two candidates in a race. An undervote happens when a voter leaves a race blank. Hand recounts of these ballots ensures there are no machine errors in reading votes.

A manual recount would be triggered Thursday afternoon if the number of overvotes and undervotes is greater than the number of votes separating the two leading candidates — meaning if those votes have the potential to decide the election. That is all but a certainty in two races based on the Herald/Times review of county-by-county data.

Palm Beach County officials already called the Thursday deadline “impossible” while Broward County hasn’t even began its machine recount.

This is how it will work:

The task of sorting through ballots will fall to counting teams, designated by county canvassing boards. The teams will include at least two people, who should represent different political affiliations, and will be closely watched by lawyers for each candidate. If a counting team cannot agree on a voter’s intention, or if the lawyers object to the team’s decision, the ballot in question will go before the full canvassing board.

“It’s going to require that each canvassing commission in each county appoint a great number of people to serve on the counting teams,” said Florida elections lawyer Thomas Shults, who said he worked for Republicans in the 2000 recount.

Sarah Revell, a spokeswoman for the Division of Elections, said she expects supervisors of elections to do the recounts one race at a time.


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