3 Ways the 2018 Midterm Recount in Florida Will Be Different From 2000 | NTK Network 3 Ways the 2018 Midterm Recount in Florida Will Be Different From 2000

3 Ways the 2018 Midterm Recount in Florida Will Be Different From 2000

It’s been 18 years since the last high-profile recount in the Sunshine State. What’s changed since then?

By NTK Staff | 11.08.2018 @11:15am
3 Ways the 2018 Midterm Recount in Florida Will Be Different From 2000

For those old enough to remember it or to have voted in it, the 2000 election was a turning point in U.S. elections, and the state of Florida is a big reason why. After every other state had finished counting ballots, Florida was still sorting through hanging chads.

Now Florida is facing yet another recount, albeit in the U.S. Senate race between Gov. Florida Scott (R-FL) and Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL). At publishing time, Scott led Nelson by 30,264 votes, or 0.4 percentage points. Under Florida law, any statewide election with a margin of 0.5 percentage points or fewer triggers an automatic recount.

But this recount is likely to be different. After all, a lot has changed since 2000. But while a U.S. Senate race does not carry the same weight as the ultimate outcome of a presidential campaign, the result will have a big impact in Florida and Washington, D.C.

So, what’s changed?

1. A state-wide voting system.

Back in 2000, each county was responsible for the voting system in its jurisdiction. That means there were 67 different voting systems in Florida’s 67 counties. In a state with more than 20 million people, that antiquated process had to go. Today, all counties follow the same voting method, streamlining the process and providing clearer direction for election officials.

2. No more punch-card ballots.

Hanging chads are a thing of the past. Whereas every county had its own voting system in 2000, all Florida voters use the same fill-in-the-bubble ballot today. That means that ballots are put through a scantron system and are automatically tabulated. An automatic recount is triggered if the results are within 0.5 percentage points of one another. That means the ballots are put back into the scantron machines and examined. If the statewide margin between Nelson and Scott is less than 0.25 percentage points, the Secretary of State will order a manual recount of each county.

Rejected ballots will be examined by counting teams to determine if the voters’ intentions were obvious. If either side objects to a counting team’s decision or the team can’t make a decision, the ballot will be forwarded to the county’s canvassing board, with the three members voting on the final decision. The members are the county supervisor of elections, a judge and the chair of the county commissioners.

And while teams of examiners might bring back memories of 2000, rest assured that without hanging chads to deal with, images like this should be at a minimum:

3. Speed.

The best difference from 2000 to 2018 is the speed at which ballots will be counted. Thanks to the improved technology mentioned above, a recount is likely to take mere days rather than the month-long slog that was 2000. That’s good news for both sides. The long, drawn-out nature of the 2000 recount entrenched both sides and added to the already bitter partisan environment that the election created. The faster the recount is over, the better.

Not surprisingly, a spokesman for Scott agrees. “This race is over,” he said. “It’s a sad way for Bill Nelson to end his career. He is desperately trying to hold on to something that no longer exists.”

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