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Florida Senate race: How does a recount work in Florida?

Posted: 3:02 PM, Nov 07, 2018
Updated: 2018-11-09 16:56:16Z

Under state law in Florida, a recount is mandatory if the winning candidate's margin is 0.5 percentage points or less.

Counties have until Saturday to turn in their first set of unofficial returns. If the margin is under 0.5 percent at that point, Secretary of State Ken Detzner is required to order a recount which will be done by machine.

The Secretary of State determines if the returns for any federal, state or multicounty races or issues on the ballot meet the statutory threshold requiring a machine recount. For all other races, the county canvassing board is responsible for ordering recounts.

If a machine recount is ordered, second unofficial returns are due from the county canvassing boards no later than 3 p.m. on November 15. 

Exception to ordering a machine recount: If the candidate(s) defeated or eliminated from contention for the office by ½ of one percent or less request in writing that a machine recount not be conducted.

If the margin in the machine recount is .25% or less, then a manual recount is conducted. The manual recount is a hand recount of overvotes and undervotes set-aside from the machine recount.

The Secretary of State will order a manual recount if required.

Exceptions to ordering a manual recount:
-If the candidate(s) defeated or eliminated from contention for the office by ¼ of one percent or less
request in writing that it not be conducted; OR
-If the number of overvotes and undervotes is less than the number of votes needed to change the election outcome.

November 16
Ballots from overseas uniformed service members and overseas civilians must be received by November 16. Ballots must be postmarked or signed and dated no later than the date of the General Election.

November 18
Official Returns are due from the county canvassing boards no later than noon on November 18.  

November 20
The Elections Canvassing Commission meets to certify the Official Returns for federal, state, and multicounty offices at 9 a.m. on November 20 at the Florida Capitol in Tallahassee.  

Information from AP and Florida Department of State