TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – It was the year 2000. A hard-fought presidential race between George W. Bush and Al Gore. It all came down to Florida. After the hotly-contested Bush-Gore recount, the rules in our state changed. So, how would election night play out this year, if history repeats itself?
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This process is set off when a race is extremely close. It doesn’t mean that something went wrong.
“We are used to recounts, we’re always prepared for them,” said Julie Marcus, the supervisor of elections in Pinellas County.
Marcus has worked in the election’s office for 17 years.
“Since I’ve been here, we’ve conducted 13 machine recounts and 12 manual recounts, which compared to other counties, is a lot of recounts,” Marcus said.
After the Bush-Gore chaos in 2000, Florida clearly spelled out the process.
Under Florida law, if a race is within a 0.5 percent margin or less, the secretary of state will order a machine recount for all 67 counties.
Elections staff would put every single ballot, including mail, early voting and election day ballots, through high-speed scanners.
This year, the second set of results would be due nine days after the election on Nov. 12.
But what if the race between Vice President Joe Biden and President Donald Trump ends up being super close: A margin of 0.25 percent or less?
“If it’s that close, if it’s .25 or less,” said Marcus, “then the state pushes down to everybody the order and everybody has to conduct a manual recount.”
That means certain potentially problematic ballots would be examined by elections staff.
For example, if the scanner detects what’s called an overvote, two circles filled out, or an undervote, no circles filled out, those ballots would be checked manually with witnesses from both parties present.
This year, the final results of a manual recount would be due by Nov. 15 at 5 p.m., 12 days after the election.
If you have a voting or election concern/question, email investigative reporter Mahsa Saeidi at MSaeidi@WFLA.com.
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