Candidates gain few votes as manual recounts wrap up in Hillsborough County

In Hillsborough County, a roundtable of five was the determining factor of ballots in question for the U.S. Senate race. 

“All of these votes that were awarded to the candidates was brought to the canvassing board and it was the canvassing board’s job to determine voter intent on these,” said Craig Latimer, the supervisor of elections for Hillsborough County.

Around 5,000 ballots were recounted by hand for the Senate race. The process begins with the counting teams.

“They would say, ‘undervote,' there’s no challenges to it, they’d go to the next one,” Latimer said. “If somebody has a challenge to it, they would raise their hand, we’d take the ballot, they would fill out a challenge form, then that challenge comes to the canvassing board.”

The canvassing board is where voter intent is determined. 

“Voters do different things, you know. Sometimes instead of filling in the oval, they fill in the party, they circle the candidate. But its gets pretty clear when you look at the whole ballot,” Latimer said. “The consistency that the voter takes when they fill out that whole ballot.”

In the end, Rick Scott gained 19 votes; Bill Nelson gained 94 in the county.

Earlier this morning, they tackled the District 18 Senate race, making Democrat Janet Cruz the likely winner. 

“The end result was Dana Young was awarded 11 more votes and Janet Cruz was awarded 17 more votes,” he said.

And in the commissioner of agriculture race, a manual review of more than 15,000 ballots ended with Matt Caldwell gaining 13 votes and Nikki Fried gaining 56 votes. 

Latimer says recounts like these are an opportunity to educate voters too. 

“We get ready for the next election, I’m going to have to change my marketing a little bit to talk about how to really, actually bubble in the bubble -- instead of making marks all over the ballot to indicate your choice,” he offered. 

The deadline for this manual recount is Sunday at noon, and the election results will be certified Tuesday, November 20.