Timely Issues in Florida Election Law: Topic 4 – Recounts

                                                                                                                                                            Given the projections for a close presidential race, Florida election law could once again take center stage in the days leading up to and following the election. With that possibility in mind, I will summarize in a series several legal issues that may come into play in November. This fourth in the series will address ballot recounts.                        

 Recounts   (F.S. 102.141 (7) and .166) 

Recounts of ballots are triggered in two instances:

(1)   If the first ballot count reflects that a candidate was defeated or ballot measure approved or rejected by ½ of 1% or less of the votes cast, a machine recount of all ballots cast for the race or measure will occur.  This recount need not occur if the losing candidate requests in writing that a recount not be made.
The tabulating machines must be tested before the recount begins.  F.S. 102.141(7) .

(2)    If the machine recount described in paragraph 1 shows that the candidate was defeated or ballot measure was approved or rejected by ¼ of 1% or less of the votes cast, a manual recount of the overvotes and undervotes cast for the race or measure will occur.  A vote contained on a ballot initially identified as an overvote or undervote shall be counted if there is a clear indication on the ballot that the voter has made a definite choice.  This manual recount will occur unless the losing candidate requests in writing that a recount not be made or the number of overvotes and undervotes is fewer than the number of votes needed to change the outcome of the election.

            “Overvote” means a voter has marked a vote for 2 or more persons for the same office or more than one answer to a ballot question, and the machine tabulator records no vote for the office or question. F.S. 97.021(24) .

“Undervote” means that the voter did not make any choice for an office or ballot question, and the machine tabulator records no vote for the office or question.  F.S. 97.021(38) .

See Topic 1 – Voter Challenges.   Topic 2 – Provisional BallotsTopic 3 – Challenges to Absentee Ballots. Topic 5 – Election Contests.

 

Thomas D. Shults, Esq.

About Thomas D. Shults, Esq.

Tom Shults is a partner in the law firm of Kirk-Pinkerton P.A. He represents clients in a range of matters including election law issues,complex business and commercial disputes and probate and trust suits. Mr. Shults is a Board Certified Civil Trial Lawyer. Board certification is the highest level of evaluation by The Florida Bar of competency and experience within a specific area of law. Mr. Shults also holds the highest peer rating possible (AV) from the independent attorney rating agency, Martindale Hubbell. He was recently appointed chair of the Code and Rules of Evidence Committee of the Florida Bar and is a recipient of the Distinguished Community Service Award of the Sarasota County Bar Association. He is an Army veteran and was admitted to the Bar in 1983.
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