Palm Beach County’s race to recount votes is heating up — literally.
The county’s decade-old ballot-counting machines overheated and gave incorrect totals, forcing the county to restart its recount of about 175,000 early votes, supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher said Tuesday night.
The department has flown in mechanics to repair the machines.
“We’re disappointed by the mechanical problems that are going to cause a further delay in the recount,” Bucher told reporters. “It became evident through the vigorous pace of counting that the machines used for the recount were starting to get stressed.”
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The malfunctions resulted in the loss of more than a day’s work.
Bucher said on Monday that her office wouldn’t be able to meet the 3 p.m. Thursday deadline imposed by the state. On Saturday, state election officials said Florida’s 67 counties had to recount the more than 8 million ballots cast statewide because the results in three major elections — U.S. Senate, governor and agriculture commissioner — were under the 0.5 percentage point threshold that triggers the mandatory recount, according to state law.
The case for deadline extension in Palm Beach County was moved to federal court Tuesday, following a motion by attorneys for Secretary of State Ken Detzner.
Leon County Circuit Judge Karen Gievers said she would grant an extension until Nov. 20, after she concluded the county could not possibly meet the deadline with its eight machines. But Detzner’s attorneys filed the motion to move the case before she could issue a written order.
Staffers are working on the recount 24-7.
If the county can’t finish the machine recount, it must submit its original count with an explanation for why it failed to meet the deadline, according to Florida laws governing recounts. The law also instructs canvassing boards to continue and complete the machine recount.