The manual recount of the 2018 General Election in Charlotte County was completed mid-afternoon on Friday, November 16th. A small number of votes were added to the election results. Unofficially, this resulted in a net gain of 14 votes for Bill Nelson and 4 votes for Nikki Fried. The certified vote totals will be published after the canvassing board reconvenes at 8:00 am Sunday morning. After that time, look for the official recount results on the Supervisor of Elections website at https://www.charlottevotes.com/.
The manual recount was performed on ballots with “undervotes” and “overvotes” in the races for Senator and Commissioner of Agriculture, as judged by the tabulation machines during the machine recount. Undervotes are when no candidate selection was made in one of those races and overvotes are ballots which the tabulation machine detected a vote for more than one candidate in a race.
The counting day began with a Logic and Accuracy Test of a DS-850 ballot tabulator to make sure it was programmed and functioning properly. That test passed with 100% accuracy. Next, the full set of all under and overvotes for those two races was fed through the tabulation machine to separate out only those ballots for the Senate race. This produces a stack of 1083 ballots to be counted from the full set of approximately 3000 ballots under review.
Next, the canvassing board evaluated each ballot to sort them into three containers for undervotes, overvotes, and ballots requiring a canvassing board decision. Representatives from the Florida Democratic Party, the Florida Republican Party, the Bill Nelson campaign and the Rick Scott campaign acted as observers and were able to review each ballot and raise objections to the canvassing board. After this sorting process was completed all the unchallenged undervotes and overvotes were counted. The canvassing board then did a careful review and made a final decision for the disposition of the remaining unclear and challenged ballots.
Once those ballots were reviewed, they were counted as either undervotes, overvotes or valid votes that were added to a candidates total.
With the Senate race completed, the board and observers repeated the process for the Commissioner of Agriculture race. All the ballots manually counted for the prior race were recombined with the others and fed back through the tabulator, which selected under and overvotes for this race. This process produced a set of 2864 ballots to be manually counted.
The same process was used in this race as for the Senate race. The ballots were sorted into the three categories, objections and challenges made as needed, and the ballots in each category were counted and reviewed. Due to the high number of undervotes, a second counting table was set up and additional observers from each party were invited into the room to observe the counting of pre-sorted undervotes. This made it possible to complete the manual recount by approximately 3:30 pm.
As an official observer representing the Charlotte County Democrats, I am happy to report that the entire election and recount process was handled with exceptional professionalism by the Charlotte County Canvassing Board and our Supervisor of Elections. We can be confident that our election results are accurate.
Webmaster, Charlotte County Democrats