Charlotte County elections officials began the machine recount of ballots Monday as part of the Florida statewide recount of the Governor, US Senate, and Agriculture Secretary Races. Observers from the Charlott Co. DEC and other interested parties closely watched the process.
Bill Nelson (D) and Rick Scott (R) are separated by a mere .15% of the vote in the race for US Senate. Andrew Gillum (D) trails Ron DeSantis by about 30,000 votes in the race for Governor. Nikki Fried (D) leads Matt Caldwell (R) in the Agriculture Secretary race by approximately 3,000 votes.
Supervisor of Elections Paul Stamoulis says approximately 88,000 ballots will be passed through the high-speed machines before the county’s effort is finished. Stamoulis says the machine recount in Charlotte County will probably be completed sometime tomorrow.
Today, a handful of ballots were unable to be counted due to various problems. In one case, the county board of canvassers made up of Stamoulis, Commissioner Christopher Constance, and County Judge John Burns, recreated a ballot that was badly stained. The substituted ballot was placed into a machine and added to the tally.
During the machine recount, officials will separate the ballots, looking for undervotes and overvotes. Undervotes are ballots that are missing marks for any candidate in a given race. Overvotes are ballots that were marked for more than one candidate in a race. The undervotes and overvotes will be examined manually if the machine recount reveals any of the three races has a statewide margin of less than .25%.
Observers from the Democratic and Republican parties, plus attornies representing the Gillum and Nelson campaigns kept a close eye on today’s count.
The deadline for the machine recount is 3:00 PM Thursday.
While Charlotte County is expected to meet that deadline, officials Broward and Palm Beach counties have said that it will be impossible to finish in time. After the machine recount, statewide manual recounts will begin in any races that are closer than a quarter of one percent.