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After all the drama, Broward finishes recount with minutes to spare — but it won’t count

The county didn't turn in results until two minutes after the 3 p.m. deadline.

With just 15 minutes to go before Thursday's deadline, Broward County finally finished recounting every vote.

At least, that's what officials told reporters and the canvassing board at 2:45 p.m. In a surprise announcement at nearly 6 p.m., Broward's director of elections planning, Joseph D'Alessandro, told the canvassing board the county actually turned in results to the state two minutes late. They won't count officially.

Florida orders first statewide hand recount

Full results of the machine recount

Broward's original count, due Nov. 10, will stand until the manual recount totals come in Sunday at noon. The manual recount will be added to the first official count.

"Basically I just worked my ass off for nothing," D'Alessandro said.

D'Alessandro also told judges that the discrepancy between the first count and the recount — about 2,040 votes — was due to "a comingling of ballots."

"We did not correctly handle the ballots," he said. "We are going to look into that and see what that took place."

Brenda Snipes, the Broward supervisor of elections, said her staff still has some duplicated vote by mail, military and overseas ballots to count, but those will be included in the manual recount.

"We've been desperately trying to finish," she said.

Duplication happens when there's a physical problem with the ballot, like a rip or coffee stain, or the canvassing board needs to clarify voter intent — like when voters make unclear scribbles instead of filling in a bubble. First the judges check that the ballot needs to be duplicated, including adding sticky notes with their ruling on voter intent, then the staff copies over the votes to a new ballot.

The judges get to compare the new and old ballots again for accuracy before the new ballot is counted and the old ballot is trashed.

Broward's latest tabulation included the contentious 205 votes that Snipes initially said she included in the first count, then said on CNN she did not. The 205 votes include 23 ballots that the canvassing board — on which Snipes often sits — deemed invalid.

"It would be unfair to disenfranchise all remaining voters who properly cast their vote. However, those 205 votes have been and will continue to remain segregated from our other votes," she said. "It's my responsibility to ensure that all validly cast votes are not disenfranchised."

Snipes said if the election comes down to a 23-vote margin then that would be a legitimate concern to contest. This count also included 25 ballots the canvassing board reviewed for voter intent.

The recount showed about 2,500 fewer votes in each race, with Democratic candidates losing about 1,300 votes each and Republicans losing about 600 votes.

Because the margins were under .5 percent, three races were machine recounted: the gubernatorial race between Andrew Gillum and Ron DeSantis; the U.S. Senate race between Sen. Bill Nelson and Gov. Rick Scott; and the commissioner of agriculture race between Nikki Fried and Matt Caldwell.

If the recount results shows that any of the races fall below a .25 percent margin, they're state-mandated to enter a manual recount.

Broward isn't the only county to not finish. Palm Beach, which suffered machine meltdowns and a slew of lost ballots, didn't make the state's deadline. The machines could only count one race at a time, and the supervisor of elections had repeatedly said her county wouldn't make the deadline.

Hillsborough County didn't make the deadline either, because the supervisor didn't know why staffers came up with an 846-vote deficit.

Because they didn't finish on time, the original results reported on Nov. 10 will be counted for those counties instead.

Written by Alex Harris. Martin Vassolo contributed to this report.