TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Twenty years after Florida was thrust into the national spotlight in the infamous Bush v. Gore recount dispute, has the Sunshine State become a model for hole to hold an election?
Gov. Ron DeSantis made that case during his Wednesday news conference highlighting improvements since 2000.
“I think it’s a testament to the state’s performance that as you see chaos unfolding in some of these other battleground states—where the votes may not be counted for days, where one state isn’t counting anything today, they’re just going to go back tomorrow—that people are actually looking at Florida and asking the question: ‘Why can’t these states be more like Florida?’” DeSantis said.
Pasco County Supervisor of Elections Brian Corley told 8 On Your Side being able to count the millions of vote by mail ballots before the polls closed made a big difference in Florida compared to other states facing legal challenges.
8 On Your Side asked Corley if there are lessons other states can learn from Florida going forward about when they should start counting these mail ballots?
“Yeah there is,” Corley said. “The sooner the better.”
Many Americans went to bed Tuesday night knowing President Donald Trump is the projected winner of Florida’s 29 electoral votes, but that wasn’t the case for other battleground states, like Michigan and Pennsylvania.
“All I can say is shame on those state legislators for not pivoting during a pandemic and allowing my colleagues to start counting earlier,” Corley said.
Terrie Weeks took part in a small demonstration with a simple message in downtown St. Petersburg.
“We’re out here to make sure that every single vote that’s cast gets fairly counted,” she said.
Weeks told 8 On Your Side she is concerned about comments from President Trump in the last 24 hours.
“I think announcing that you’ve won when hundreds of thousands of votes are yet to be counted is grossly inappropriate,” she said.
Former Vice President Joe Biden did not declare victory when he spoke around 4 p.m. on Wednesday.
“I’m not here to declare that we’ve won,” Biden said. “But I am here to report when the count is finished, we believe we will be the winners.”
Weeks said she is pleased Florida didn’t add a new chapter to its history of messy elections.
“Florida did a decent job because they start counting thsoe vote by mail ballots as soon as they come in,” she said.
Corley said the record early and mail voting helped keep the lines moving on Election Day.
He added that at the start of the coronavirus pandemic he worried about having enough poll workers and polling places.
“If someone would have told me months ago that we would have one of the smoothest elections in Florida’s history, I would have said you’re crazy but it was one for the ages,” Corley said. “I mean I’m so proud of my staff, our poll workers and quite frankly my colleagues around Florida.”
Ballots from military members and overseas voters postmarked on Election Day can still be counted if they arrive within ten days by Nov. 13.
Florida’s official results will be certified by the Department of State’s Election Canvassing Commission on Tuesday, Nov. 17.