Machine recount for 3 Florida races underway

Machine recount for 3 Florida races underway

UPDATE: Sunday 11:40 a.m.

The recounting of Senate and gubernatorial ballots is underway in Florida's second most-populous county after it fixed problems with its machines.

Broward County began counting about 700,000 ballots Sunday after a more than two-hour delay caused by a tested machine that wasn't registering all ballots. Republican representatives asked that all machines be retested and county officials agreed.

UPDATE: Saturday 4:40 p.m. The recount will begin at 5 p.m. The recounts will occur in the following order: Senate, Governor, Commissioner of Agriculture, and District 89.

UPDATE: 3:30 p.m. - In a statement on Saturday following the order for a machine recount, Mayor Andrew Gillum said, "I am replacing my earlier concession with an unapologetic and uncompromised call to count every vote."

UPDATE: 3 p.m. - Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner has ordered the canvassing boards responsible for canvassing the races for Senate, Governor, and Commissioner of Agriculture to conduct a machine recount of the votes cast.

Here are the times the Supervisor of Elections Office plans to start the recount:

Palm Beach County - 2pm Saturday Martin County - 8:30 a.m. Monday St. Lucie County - 7 a.m. Monday (delayed from originally planned time of 8 a.m. Sunday) Indian River County - 8 a.m. Sunday Okeechobee County - 8 a.m. Tuesday

------------ Here are the updated vote totals:

U.S. Senate Class I 6,111 of 6,111 precincts - 100 percent Rick Scott, GOP 4,098,107 - 50 percent Bill Nelson, Dem (i) 4,085,545 - 50 percent

Governor 6,111 of 6,111 precincts - 100 percent x-Ron DeSantis, GOP 4,075,879 - 50 percent Andrew Gillum, Dem 4,042,195 - 49 percent Darcy Richardson, RP 47,123 - 1 percent Kyle Gibson, NPA 24,388 - 0 percent Ryan Foley, NPA 14,532 - 0 percent Bruce Stanley, NPA 14,499 - 0 percent

Commissioner of Agriculture Matt Caldwell, GOP 4,025,011 - 49.97 percent Nicole "Nikki" Fried, DEM 4,030,337 - 50.03 percent

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During an emergency hearing Saturday morning with Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher and attorneys for Rick Scott's campaign, a judge questioned the legality of the process used in Palm Beach County to look over questionable ballots.

"You say you adopted this policy this year because that's what large counties do. It seems to circumvent the mandatory language that says both in statute and the rule that it isn't up to you because that's who your staff is to make the determination of under votes, over votes and damaged ballots, but rather it's the canvassing board's job," said Judge Krista Marx. "You said it was compliant with the law, but from what I'm reading, it's not."

The emergency hearing on Saturday was in reference to a motion for reconsideration of an order the judge made on Friday for the supervisor of elections to provide questionable ballots and information requested by the Rick Scott campaign by 10 a.m. Saturday.

Bucher said it would take two to three days to provide the requested information, so her office needs more time. She also was unsure of exactly how many ballots were considered questionable and then duplicated.

Judge Marx denied the motion for reconsideration after the plaintiff's attorney said the elections office hasn't shown any signs of attempting to meet the 10 a.m. deadline. Bucher said they came up with a plan, but were busy canvassing ballots for Saturday's statewide 12 p.m. deadline for certified votes to determine if a recount is needed in state races.

"I'm amazed that we're here instead of complying with this court's order for the benefit of the voters of this state," the attorney for Rick Scott's campaign said.

The issue is over ballots that are filled out incorrectly or are considered damaged.

Bucher told Judge Marx she started a new process this year that is employed in other larger counties, which utilizes clerical workers to analyze questionable ballots and determine the voters' intent for how they should be duplicated.

"We had the clear intent to allow clerical staff to assist the canvassing board," Bucher said. "We trained that clerical staff. We had motion cameras. We had two attorneys sitting there for almost three days that didn't say anything and we walked them through the area."

Bucher said no duplicate ballots are made without her presence and there are senior staff monitoring the processing of questionable ballots. However, Judge Marx believes the canvassing board is supposed to make all of those determinations.

"The language is unambiguous. It's the canvassing board who makes this determination. I want to hear your best argument, a case, a statute, a rule, that says what you're doing, what you assert other big counties are doing is appropriate. What's your best argument?" Judge Marx asked Bucher.

"There is a statute that allows the canvassing board to employ clerical help to assist in the operation of counting ballots," Bucher responded.

Judge Marx told Bucher to get her office to work on complying with the court's order.

Bucher walked outside of the courtroom to vocal protestors in the parking lot, some calling for her resignation.

"Everyone here thinks that even Bay County, which was ravaged by a hurricane could get their counts in, and they're just upset because it's a constant issue they've been having, especially in Palm Beach and Broward County," said Taryn Fenske, of the Republican National Committee. "They're out here to stay. We're sick of it. We're over it. We want you to finish and get your job done."

Attorneys for Rick Scott's campaign were at the tabulation center after the hearing Saturday morning overseeing ballot sorting.

After the 12 p.m. deadline had passed, Susan Bucher told WPTV's Amy Lipman that her staff planned to canvass duplicate ballots later in the afternoon. She did not clarify if her staff met the judge's 12 p.m. deadline.

At the same time, the elections workers are now required to do a recount for the races for Senate, Governor and Agriculture Commissioner. The canvassing board planned to meet at 2 p.m. Saturday until further notice.