Florida supervisors of elections prep for likely recounts

Supervisor of elections offices across the state are meeting with canvassing boards to go over ballots that still need to be counted, including provisional ballots. 

On Thursday, the Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections Craig Latimer invited the media as the canvassing board met to go over ballots to be accepted and rejected in the counting of votes for the mid-term elections.

Workers had to see if those provisional voters were, in fact, eligible to vote. 

"Most of the ones that we’re going to be seeing today will be ones that are going to be accepted," said Latimer. "We have others that are going to be rejected, but we elevate those to a second tier so that we do a second check on those. [It] won’t be in today."

The Hillsborough board went over 442 provisional ballots and 211 mail ballots. Of those ballots presented, 369 were accepted and 284 were rejected, according to the canvassing board. 

The provisional ballots had to be turned and verified by an election worker by Thursday's 5 p.m. deadline.

Eunic Ortiz, who works with a labor union, helped out those provisional voters. She said put out a blast on social media and reached out in the community to find those voters and inform them of the deadline.

"We step in, we say 'Hey, don’t forget you have to go through the supervisor of elections. You have to go through this process otherwise your vote won’t be counted," said Ortiz, the director of communications for the Service Employees International Union.

Among the roughly 1,200 ballots left to count are other types of ballots from Election Day.

"We’ve got some vote-by-mail ballots. We will then be tabulating those ballots. We also have some overseas military, some ballots that we have had to duplicate because they were either damaged while we are trying to run them through the machines or they have errant marks on them that they have to be duplicated," said Latimer.

Watching the process unfold were local residents, candidate representatives, and political groups.

"I do trust the process. I think that is important that we let the process play out so that everybody has an opportunity to make sure their voice is heard and every single last vote is counted," said Ashley Walker with For Our Future Florida, a progressive super PAC or political action committee.

The Florida secretary of state will decide Saturday if a recount is needed. The supervisor of elections office in every county has until 12 p.m. Saturday to certify the unofficial election results and send them to the state.

"We’re going to see something historic that Florida has never seen before, which are elections that are decided by just a few thousand people on a statewide level," said Ortiz.

Hillsborough County’s canvassing board will meet again Friday at 3:30 p.m. to keep going through about 850 of the remaining provisional ballots.