Broward County starts machine recount of election ballots
With just 15 minutes to go before Thursday’s deadline, Broward County finally finished recounting every vote.
At least, that’s what officials told reporters and the canvassing board at 2:45 p.m. In a surprise announcement at nearly 6 p.m., Broward’s director of elections planning, Joseph D’Alessandro, told the canvassing board the county actually turned in results to the state two minutes late. They won’t count officially.
Broward’s original count, turned in Nov. 10, will stand until the manual recount totals come in Sunday at noon. The manual recount will be added to the first unofficial count.
“Basically I just worked my ass off for nothing,” D’Alessandro said. “What caused it was my unfamiliarity with their website.”
D’Alessandro also told judges that a discrepancy between the first count and the recount — about 2,040 votes — was due to “a commingling of ballots.”
“We did not correctly handle the ballots,” he said. “We are going to look into that and see what took place.”
Brenda Snipes, the Broward supervisor of elections, said the next step is collecting the ballots with undervotes and overvotes in the the races for which the state has ordered a manual recount.
Because the margins were under .25 percent, three Broward races will be manually recounted: the U.S. Senate race between Sen. Bill Nelson and Gov. Rick Scott; the commissioner of agriculture race between Nikki Fried and Matt Caldwell; and West Park Commission Seat One.
Broward plans to begin the manual recount Friday at 7 a.m. It will exclusively involve counting the undervotes and overvotes. The elections department was still completing a machine recount on some vote-by-mail ballots on Friday, according to D’Alessandro. Although the results won’t count, Snipes said any overvotes and undervotes found may be counted in the manual recount.
“I believe if they find under and over votes, we do have to use those,” Snipes said.
The gubernatorial race between Republican Ron DeSantis and Democrat Andrew Gillum was decided in the statewide recount. DeSantis won.
The Broward recount showed about 2,500 fewer votes in each race, with Democratic candidates losing about 1,300 votes each and Republicans losing about 600 votes. Scott lost 606 votes, while Nelson lost 1,385, leaving Scott with a net gain of 779 votes in the county. That led to accusations from top Scott surrogates, including senior campaign advisor Brad Todd on MSNBC, that Broward turned in the votes late to favor Nelson.
Broward isn’t the only county to not turn in its recount on time. Palm Beach, which suffered machine meltdowns and a slew of lost ballots, didn’t make the state’s deadline. The machines could only count one race at a time, and the supervisor of elections had repeatedly said her county wouldn’t make the deadline.
Hillsborough County didn’t make the deadline either, because the supervisor didn’t know why staffers came up with an 846-vote deficit.
Because they didn’t finish on time, the original results reported on Nov. 10 will also be the ones counted for those counties instead.
Snipes congratulated her staff on their hard work but ultimately said the fault for the errors lies with her alone.
“I have taken responsibility for every act in this office — good, bad or indifferent,” she said.