Thursday, November 15, 2018
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  • From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Recount totals from Hillsborough Canvassing Board: 369 ballots accepted, 284 rejected

With three close statewide races and one tight State Senate race, the Hillsborough County Canvassing Board began the process of reviewing ballots for likely recounts.

The board, made up of Hillsborough County Judges Margaret Taylor and Judge Miriam Valkenburg, and Supervisor of Elections Craig Latimer, began reviewing provisional and mail-in ballots during an hour-long meeting at the Robert L. Gilder Elections Service Center in Tampa.

The board unanimously accepted 369 ballots and rejected 284.

The problems included voters in the wrong precinct, different signatures, voters who moved out of the county, no voter ID and not being registered. There were also six early voters who tried to vote twice, but not because of voter fraud, said Gerri Kramer, spokeswoman for the Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections.

After the meeting, officials began scanning those ballots approved into the system.

The board will meet again tomorrow at 3:30 to review about 850 more ballots, said Gerri Kramer, spokeswoman for the Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections.

But thousands of votes remained uncounted. And over the next 36 hours, the margins gradually shrank.

Races for Governor, Agriculture Commissioner and U.S. Senate appear headed for recounts,as well as the 18th District State Senate race.

As of 9 a.m., GOP Gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis' lead was just 42,948 votes out of 8,189,305 ballots cast — equal to 0.52 percent of the vote. Concession speech or no, Florida law requires an automatic machine recount in any race where the margin of victory is within one half of one percentage point.

By 6 p.m., U.S. Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson trailed Republican Gov. Rick Scott by 17,431, a margin of 0.22 percent. In the race for governor, Democrat Andrew Gillum trailed DeSantis by 38,594, a margin of only 0.47 percent.

Thousands of ballots in Florida still remain uncounted, so it's too soon to say whether a recount will indeed happen in the race for governor. Florida's 67 elections supervisors must send their unofficial numbers to the state by 1 p.m. Saturday, and campaign volunteers were scrambled around the state Thursday as supervisors prepared to examine provisional ballots cast by voters with unresolved issues at their polling places.

Just 289 of the 207,057 votes cast separate Janet Cruz and Dana Young in their race for the Florida Senate District 18 seat, and the Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections will likely declare a recount.

The Canvassing Board must certify its first unofficial results to the state no later than noon on Saturday. Based on these results, the Secretary of State will order any necessary recounts for federal, state and multicounty races.

The Canvassing Board is responsible for ordering recounts in all other races.

Recounts are automatically triggered as per FS102.141, which states that "if the unofficial returns reflect that a candidate for any office was defeated or eliminated by one-half of a percent or less of the votes cast for such officea recount shall be ordered of the votes cast with respect to such office or measure. The Secretary of State is responsible for ordering recounts in federal, state, and multicounty races."

If the Secretary of State issues a recount order before 9 a.m. on Sunday, November 11, the Hillsborough County Canvassing Board plans to meet at 9 a.m. on Nov. 11, to begin that recount. If the recount is ordered after 9 a.m. on Nov. 11, the recount shall begin after that. The recount, if ordered, will occur at the Supervisor of Elections Office, 2514 North Falkenburg Rd.

Counties have until Nov. 18 to certify their votes and the state has until Nov. 20 to declare the results.

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