Here’s a timeline for a Florida voting recount

We're looking at a potentially long process.
Voters wait to go inside The Coliseum to vote on Tuesday in St. Petersburg. (EVE EDELHEIT   |   Times)
Voters wait to go inside The Coliseum to vote on Tuesday in St. Petersburg. (EVE EDELHEIT | Times)
Published Nov. 8, 2018

The razor-thin margins in the races of U.S. Senate, agriculture commissioner and a few local races have further narrowed overnight, and the state is gearing up for recounts. The margin in the governor's race is nearing the threshold for a recount.

Unofficial statewide results have to be reported to the state elections office before a recount can be officially ordered.

The state elections website shows that as of mid-morning on Thursday Broward County had not completed its counting of mail and early voting ballots and Palm Beach County hadn't completed its mail ballots.

Here's a timeline on how the process works:

Saturday, Nov. 10: Unofficial returns from the counties are due at noon.
If the margin in a statewide race is less than 0.5 percent, the secretary of state, Ken Detzner, is required to order a machine recount. The losing candidate can refuse a recount, but Nicole "Nikki" Fried, the Democratic candidate for agriculture commissioner and Bill Nelson, Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate don't plan to.

Thursday, Nov. 15: If a machine recount is ordered, the second round of unofficial returns is due from the counties at 3 p.m.

Those in charge of re-counting votes, the county canvassing boards, are comprised of the county supervisor of elections, a circuit court judge and the chair of the county commission. This group is tasked with testing its voting machines for technical errors and reporting any problems to the Department of State within 11 days.

A machine recount means damaged ballots are duplicated, all ballots are re-scanned and then the number of total votes cast according to the machines are compared with the number of votes the county initially reported.

If the numbers match up, the vote was reported accurately in the eyes of the county. And if the margin in race is larger than 0.25 percent, the results will be considered official.

If the threshold after this second round of returns drops below 0.25 percent, however, then the state can order a manual recount for federal and state races. For all other races, county canvassing boards are responsible for ordering a recount.

A manual recount means the canvassing boards count each overvote and undervote by hand. An overvote means the voter picked more choices than allowed on their ballot. An undervote means the voter made no choice or fewer than the number of allowable choices on the ballot.

This process can take days.

Like with the machine recount, the losing candidate can request the recount be canceled. Additionally, the recount can be canceled if the number of overvotes and undervotes is less than the number of votes needed to change the election outcome.

Nov. 16: Overseas and military ballots, which traditionally trend Republican, will be counted. Ballots must be postmarked or signed and dated no later than Nov. 6.

Nov. 18: Official returns are due from counties no later than noon.

Nov. 20: Official results from counties are certified by the state.