Despite Machines Malfunctioning, Recount Moves Forward At Duval Elections Office

Nov 12, 2018

Despite a couple of issues with tabulators at the Supervisor of Elections Office in Duval County this week, Elections Supervisor Mike Hogan said he expects to wrap up the machine recount well before Thursday’s 3 p.m. deadline.

“We are moving along at a very rapid pace right now,” Hogan told WJCT News on Monday afternoon. “Yesterday we already counted all the absentee ballots, again, and we’re probably halfway through the early voting ballots at this point in time. After that, of course, election day ballots.”

Duval County SOE staff started the machine recount process on Sunday, well before most Florida counties. They even came into work on Veterans Day - a day that most government employees get off.

“At the end of the day, we’ll probably be at least two thirds of the way through the process,” said Hogan.

Since Sunday, two of the machines have malfunctioned. Hogan said they’ve been using four high speed tabulators for the machine recount, and one of those was being saved as a backup.

When the first machine went down on Monday, they quickly moved the backup tabulator into the rotation. “Didn’t lose any time,” Hogan said.

Later in the day another tabulator malfunctioned. The manufacturer was called and the machine was quickly repaired. “Because we were down one, I went ahead and contacted the supervisor in Nassau County,” Hogan said. “They use exactly the same tabulator as we do. And she’s committed to bring her two up here if we need them.”

Not all of the 15,000 ballots fed through that tabulator on Monday were counted, so now all of those votes will have to be recounted again. That likely means SOE staff will have a few extra hours of work on their hands, but Hogan thinks there’s still plenty of time to finish the recount before Thursday’s deadline.

Once the machine recount is finished and results have been submitted to Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner, state law requires that any contests falling within a .25 percent margin must go to a manual recount of overvotes and undervotes, unless the total number of overvotes and undervotes is fewer than the number of votes needed to change the outcome of that race.

For those concerned that “large numbers of new ballots showed up out of nowhere,” Hogan said don’t be alarmed. Elections offices are still counting votes.

“After the election you’re doing provisionals, you’re still finishing up absentees. Those numbers will change,” said Hogan. “I think we got in like 12 trays of absentee ballots on Election Day then we had a host of ballots coming from the downtown office because you could drop your mail ballot there at 105 East Monroe. So we were still counting into Wednesday and our numbers were moving. That’s why the first [un]official was this past Saturday.”

On top of that, military and overseas votes are accepted until Nov. 16. “They have ten days after the election to get their ballots in, so we’re still counting some ballots,” Hogan said. “The numbers will change.”

The three statewide races being recounted are governor, senate and agriculture commissioner.

Brendan Rivers can be reached at brivers@wjct.org, 904-358-6396 or on Twitter at @BrendanRivers.