Darryl Rouson, Ed Narain enter new phase in Senate 19 race
It’s going to be a long week -- or weeks -- for the candidates of Senate District 19.
With all precincts reported (including vote by mail and early voting), unofficial results show that Rep. Darryl Rouson, St. Petersburg, leads Rep. Ed Narain, Tampa, by only 61 votes in the two-county race.
That’s a margin of just 0.16 percent. Recounts in Florida are triggered anytime a candidate leads by a margin within one-half of 1 percent.
So what’s next?
The supervisors of election in Pinellas and Hillsborough will oversee canvassing boards -- groups of three people who review provisional ballots. Those ballots include any voter who did not show a photo ID or whose name was not on the electoral roll for that precinct.
Hillsborough will review about 100 provisional ballots at 11 a.m. Thursday, and Pinellas will review 43 provisional ballots later that day at 3 p.m.
There are two times as many provisional ballots between the two counties as there are votes separating Rouson and Narain. And it’s worth noting that most of those ballots are in Hillsborough, which is Narain’s turf. But it’s still unclear how many of the provisional ballots in both counties were cast within the boundaries for District 19.
If the margin of error is still less than half of a percent once both counties file their official results, then it’s up to Florida’s Secretary of State, Ken Detzner, to order a machine recount of all the ballots.
If that machine recount ends and the candidates are separated by less than a quarter of 1 percent, a manual recount is required of all overvotes and undervotes — that is, every paper ballot in which an optical machine recorded a voter as having voted for more than one candidate or for no candidates.
The canvassing boards also will review provisional ballots cast in the race, and their decisions are subject to challenge in circuit court, which could delay the result for a long time.
That all means that results in this race won’t be official for at least a couple days, and the waiting period could span even longer if the loser challenges the results in court.