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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

With Florida going to the wire, let's talk about the recount scenario



It's happened before in Florida, so it's worth thinking about again -- what if there's a recount?

Under Florida law, a recount is automatically triggered in any race decided by a margin of one-half of one percent. If 9 million people vote in Florida -- a plausible figure, given reports of heavy turnout around the state -- that means there could be a recount if the presidential vote is decided by 45,000 votes or less.

In a recount, all ballots are submitted again into the tabulating machines to recount the votes. If the recount yields a margin of one-quarter of one percent, the local canvassing boards must then perform another manual recount to examine so-called "undervotes" and "overvotes" -- ballots that recorded no vote for president, or multiple votes for president.

Any recount must be completed within nine days from the day it was ordered by the Secretary of State. However, state law also says any recounts must be completed within 12 days of Election Day.

But, just as in the 2000 recount, there are tensions between the state and federal law: Elections officials still must collect absentee ballots cast overseas for some 10 days after election day. So overseas ballots could trickle in through Nov. 16, with a recount deadline of Nov. 18.

In 2008, more than 97,000 absentee ballots were cast by overseas Florida voters.

For those who have blotted it from their memories: The 2000 contest between George W. Bush and Al Gore was decided by just 537 votes in Florida.

-- Marc Caputo, Miami Herald

[Last modified: Tuesday, November 6, 2012 9:32pm]


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