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.

 

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Thomas D. Shults, Esq.

About Thomas D. Shults, Esq.

Tom Shults is a Florida Bar Board Certified Civil Trial Lawyer and represents clients in election and sunshine law issues, complex business and commercial disputes and probate and trust suits. He was admitted to the Florida Bar in 1983 and has maintained an active trial practice in state and federal courts for over 35 years. Tom represents candidates, political parties and political action committees in election disputes and election law litigation. He successfully represented the Sarasota Alliance for Fair Elections in Sarasota Alliance for Fair Elections et al. v. Browning et al. , where the Florida Supreme Court ruled on the constitutionality of Sarasota County’s charter election law amendments. Tom has served on the Professional Ethics Committee of The Florida Bar and is the past Chairman of the Code and Rules of Evidence Committee of The Florida Bar. He is a recipient of the Distinguished Community Service Award of the Sarasota County Bar Association for his work with the Sarasota Mental Health Community Centers. In 2013 he was nominated for circuit court judge by the 12th Circuit Judicial Nominating Committee. Tom has served on the faculty of the Kessler-Eidson Program for Trial Techniques at Emory University School of Law and on the faculty of the National Institute for Trial Advocacy Program for Practicing Lawyers at Nova Southeastern University School of Law. Tom grew up in St. Petersburg, Florida and is a graduate of St. Petersburg High School (1973), Florida State University (B.S. 1977) and Washburn University School of Law (J.D. cum laude 1982). He is veteran of the United States Army.
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