Votes recounting at the Miami-Dade County Elections Department in Doral
By noon on Monday, Miami-Dade managed to recount about half of the more than 800,000 votes cast in the 2018 election. Broward County had not yet started its state-mandated recount.
The stark contrast in pace from Florida’s two largest sources of ballots highlights the pressure facing Broward as it tries to meet a Thursday afternoon deadline to recount the more than 700,000 votes cast in the largely Democratic county.
As of noon Monday, Broward still had to calibrate its ballot-scanning machines and sort out the ballots needed to be counted, suggesting the actual recount may not start until later in the day or even Tuesday morning.
Miami-Dade started its recount process earlier, with the Elections Department winning administrative permission from the county canvassing board to prepare for a recount before Florida officially ordered it.
Roberto Rodriguez, a spokesman for Miami-Dade Elections Department, said it was Thursday night when county workers began sorting out the page containing the governor, senate and agriculture commissioner races. Those are the only ballot pages that must be scanned again in the recount. On Monday, Broward officials said the page sorting process may not be over until Tuesday morning.
“They will not be completed with separating until late tonight or early tomorrow morning,” said Judge Deborah Carpenter-Toye, a member of the Broward canvassing board.
When the recount order came from Tallahassee Saturday afternoon, Miami-Dade was able to start recounting within hours. Its nine high-speed ballot counting machines began processing ballots shortly before 6 p.m. Saturday, and have been running 24 hours since. Broward was still testing its machines and sorting out ballot pages through the weekend and Monday morning.
Mayor Carlos Gimenez, who oversees Miami-Dade’s Elections Department and appointed the county’s elections supervisor, Christina White, shared some rough ballot counting figures on Monday. A source said the county’s canvassing board, which meets behind closed doors with representatives from the candidates whose races are subject to recount, was given similar information.
According to Gimenez, almost all of the more than 200,000 ballots cast on Election Day have been counted. Roughly 40 percent of the more than 300,000 cast during early voting have been counted, too. But the more than 250,000 ballots cast by mail are taking much longer, with only about 25 percent counted. Most mail-in ballots are folded and placed in envelopes, and creases slow down the counting machines.
Miami-Dade is likely to see its pace increase after five rented high-speed counting machines arrive later Monday, joining the nine that Miami-Dade already had for 2018.
Miami-Dade appears to be ahead of the pace needed to meet the 3 p.m. Thursday deadline, so Broward could still make it with a late start. Broward’s elected elections supervisor, Brenda Snipes, said Monday she was confident her office will make the deadline for both the three statewide races and two local races subject to the recount in that county.
As of Monday morning, Miami-Dade was counting more than 10,000 ballots per hour. It needed a pace of about 7,000 voters per hour to be finished by Thursday afternoon.
If Broward were to start its recount at 5 p.m. Monday, it would need to count about 10,200 ballots per hour to meet the 3 p.m. Thursday deadline for counties to turn in their recount results. If the deadline is missed, the original results reported Saturday are what’s counted.
With Broward the subject of intense scrutiny and criticism after Election Day, Miami-Dade officials have in turn quietly basked in the favorable comparisons.
In Miami-Dade, the elections supervisor is a county department head, appointed by the mayor and confirmed by the County Commission. It’s an elected position in most counties, including in Broward. A constitutional amendment approved by Florida voters last week requires Miami-Dade to switch to an elected elections supervisor by 2025.
“I’m proud we’re not the ones in the mess,” Miami-Dade Commissioner Jose “Pepe” Diaz said during a Monday walk-through of the press room at the county’s Elections Department in Doral. “We have professionals here.”