Manual recount moving quickly in Central Florida

Many Florida counties were on-track to finish their manual vote recount of two major statewide races by the end of the day Friday.  Those races include the offices for U.S. Senate and Commissioner of Agriculture.

A large crowd filled the Orange County Supervisor of Elections office at about 8 a.m. -- the group was comprised of election staffers as well as hundreds of representatives from both the Republican and Democratic parties.

In this portion of the recount, two staffers sit with one member of each party and go one-by-one through the ballots that were considered "overvotes" or "undervotes," during the initial machine recount this week.  Think of those as that ballots the machines rejected.

The undervotes are the counting machines deciding that the voter didn’t vote for either candidate in a race, likely choosing to leave that race blank. The overvotes are the machines deciding that a voter marked more than one candidate for a particular race, and thus made their vote undetermined.

Normally, those votes are simply set aside, but when two candidates in a race fall within a quarter-percent vote difference, then those ballots could prove game-changers.  That’s what some are hoping in the U.S. Senate race between incumbent Democrat Bill Nelson and out-going Governor Republican Rick Scott.

Scott currently sits about 12,000 votes ahead which is well under the quarter-percent margin.  After the initial recount concluded this week, Republicans continued to claim victory in the close race as Scott actually picked up additional votes in the process, and a flip of the race reached the very-unlikely level.

However, Democrats remain hopeful that the manual recount will uncover enough additional votes to turn the race for Nelson. Attorneys for Nelson also continue to point to a suspiciously large under vote in Broward County that they believe could be the result of a machine malfunction.

According to reports from South Florida, Broward County finished their manual recount of the race by early afternoon Friday.  

Nelson backers also hope an extended deadline for mail-in voters to fix un-matching signatures on their ballots, and get their votes counted, could also help their cause. Those voters have to take action by 5 p.m. on Saturday.

Leaders in Orange County wrapped up the Senate recount by the afternoon on Friday and started with the recount in the race for Commissioner of Agriculture. That race is expected to take slightly longer to recount, due to a high rate of under votes as many voters tend to skip that race.

The County Supervisor of Elections was still hopeful their recount would be complete last Friday.
Barring any further court decisions, the deadline for counties to submit their final vote tallies to the state is Sunday afternoon and then the Secretary of State is scheduled to canvass the state-wide totals on Tuesday.