With little drama or controversy, Duval County election officials expect to finish on Tuesday their recount of ballots cast on election day for Florida governor, U.S. senator and state agriculture commissioner.
Ballots cast in early voting or mailed in were already recounted Monday, and machine failures cost the recount a couple of hours of extra work but didn’t derail it, said Robert Phillips, chief elections assistant for the Duval County Supervisor of Elections Office.
“It’s going well,” Phillips said. “It’s not like 15,000 brand new votes have been found.”
That many ballots did have to be run through a counting machine a second time because elections workers realized Monday morning a different machine was malfunctioning and hadn’t recorded the votes.
That machine, one of three being used for the recount, was taken offline and a spare was used instead.
Every county elections office in Florida has a 3 p.m. Thursday deadline to complete machine recounts of results from the three races that ended with less than a half-percent difference between the top candidates. But those recounts won’t include results of votes the machines couldn’t decipher, the sloppy or vague markings that are only evaluated in a hand recount.
Duval County — which has the third-highest concentration of black voters in the state — broke for Democrats Andrew Gillum in the governor’s race, incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson in his re-election fight against Gov. Rick Scott, and Nikki Fried for agriculture commissioner. Those results were a strong showing for Democrats in a traditionally right-of-center county, but ultimately those gains were almost completely wiped out by the Republican Party’s dominance with its own base.
The low-key local recount has stood in contrast to controversy swirling in Broward and Palm Beach counties in South Florida, where pro-Republican demonstrators have asserted Democrats were trying to fraudulently inflate counts for their party.
Duval County has 607,386 registered voters. A total of 381,784 ballots were cast in the Nov. 6 general election, reflecting about a 63-percent voter turnout, according to county Supervisor of Elections Office data.
There is another, smaller pool of outstanding ballots that can still be added to the final tally in Duval County but won’t be counted in the recount, which only includes ballots that were received by election day.
Any overseas ballots postmarked on or before Nov. 6 that arrive by Friday will get added to Jacksonville’s final tallies. Phillips said there are only about 2,000 outstanding overseas ballots, and if history is any guide, not all of those will end up getting returned.