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Flagler Canvassing Board Prepares for Recount Sunday in Senate, Agriculture and Governor’s Race

| November 8, 2018

The recount machine, to the left, and other equipment to be used Sunday during the recount of three races at the Flagler County Supervisor of Elections' office. (© FlaglerLive)

The recount machine, to the left, and other equipment to be used Sunday during the recount of three races at the Flagler County Supervisor of Elections’ office. (© FlaglerLive)

The Flagler County Supervisor of Elections and the county’s canvassing board are preparing to report to work Sunday morning to conduct a machine recount almost certainly in two statewide races, possibly in three. Canvassing board members were informed of the Sunday meeting earlier today. They will discuss it further at the canvassing board meeting previously scheduled for this evening, when a count of some 60 provisional ballots is to take place.


Flagler Supervisor of Elections Kaiti Lenhart calls the recount, which will take up most of Sunday and may take two days, “historic.”

The race for U.S. Senate between incumbent Bill Nelson, a Democrat, and Rick Scott, a Republican, had Scott winning by 60,000 votes Tuesday night, at the end of Election Day. The margin has narrowed to less than 22,000 by this afternoon as more votes were still being counted in Democratic-rich Broward and Palm Beach counties, bringing the tally well below the 0.5 percent margin that by state law automatically triggers a recount (unless candidates decline one). A hand recount is triggered if the margin is below 0.25 percent.

The race for Commissioner of Agriculture is even closer: as of this afternoon, Nikki Fried, the Democrat, had taken a 575-vote lead, after being behind on election night.

Andrew Gillum conceded to Ron DeSantis in the race for governor, when on election night he appeared to be losing by more than 70,000 votes. But the margin has kept narrowing since. By mid-afternoon today t was down to 38,515, according to the state Division of Elections’ website. That’s a 0.475 difference.

No local races in Flagler were close enough to require a recount.

The all-but-certain order for recounts must await a step first. “We need all 67 counties to report their first unofficial results,” Lenhart said. That includes all provisional ballots, which means that even Flagler hasn’t yet issued its unofficial results. It will do so after tonight’s canvassing board meeting. The statewide deadline is Saturday at noon. “Then the state can issue an order for a recount.”

Provisional ballots are those that were submitted by voters but that failed to meet certain voting requirements. The voter may not have had proper identification at the time, or there may have been issues with registration timelines. “The provisional ballot voters have 48 hours to give us any documents or evidence to support their eligibility before the canvassing board can make the decision either to support or reject those ballots, based on Florida law,” Lenhart said.

Military and other ballots from citizens overseas still have not been counted, and may take up to 10 days from election night to be counted.

The machine recount will take place at the Supervisor of Elections office in the Government Services Building after all machines are tested. Some 53,000 paper ballots have to be run through a machine. Election day ballots will be counted first, then early voting, then vote by mail, ballots, each group divided by precinct.

“Our scanner does 300 ballots per minute,” Lenhart said, “so theoretically it could do 18,000 in an hour, however there’s other things going on, we have to break them out by precinct, we don’t have a stack of 18,000, so there’s processing time in between.” She said it could possibly take more than a day. “We’d have to work a full eight-hour day, nothing but scanning to get everything done on Sunday. Maybe we can. I don’t know. We’ve never done a full-county recount.”

The full staff of the supervisor’s office will be there, along with members of the canvassing board, two of whom must be present at all times. The board consists of Lenhart, County Judge Melissa Moore Stens and county commissioners Charlie Ericksen. Alternates are Commissioner Donald O’Brien and former Commissioner Barbara Revels, who would be a stand-in for the judge. But it won’t be exciting work. There won’t be examinations of individual ballots.

“The machine is doing the counting, so there isn’t a lot of involvement, it’s pretty much just watching it happen,” Lenhart said. “If it moves to a manual recount then that’s when the canvassing board has more work to do.” And it appears that at least one race, possibly two, may require a hand recount.

Either way, don’t expect to get a running tally of the count, as on election night, when early votes and mail-in votes are usually announced first, then election-day votes are announced in batches. The results will be announced only at the very end of the entire process.

The second unofficial count is due by Nov. 15 statewide. The state could then order a hand recount of any ballot with over- or under-votes, that is, with more than one vote registered for the same race, or with no votes recorded.

“There’s a lot of interest in what we’re doing,” Lenhart said. “I plan to send out a press release when we know more, after our canvassing tonight, to make it as transparent as possible and invite people to come watch, because we’ve never done a statewide recount–I haven’t in my tenure in the office, in the past nine years we haven’t had a recount at all, so this will be kind of historic in our county, especially for the state. We haven’t had a statewide recount since 2000.” And that one was aborted, when the U.S. Supreme Court put an end to it and named George W. Bush president.

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18 Responses for “Flagler Canvassing Board Prepares for Recount Sunday in Senate, Agriculture and Governor’s Race”

  1. Keep Flagler Beautiful says:

    If the Democrats win, it was a fair election. If they lose, it wasn’t fair and they won’t stop sucking their thumbs and crying till they get their way. I have no faith whatsoever in the so-called provisional ballots. That’s an area that’s rife with the potential for abuse.

  2. Concerned Citizen says:

    I don’t understand the concept of a Provisional Ballot.

    If you don’t meet the voting requirements then you should not be allowed to vote at all. Part of the reason the voting system is a mess is the fact we keep allowing changes to make people happy.

    Most everything in life requires rules. Follow those rules and things become a lot simpler.

  3. Ben Hogarth says:

    Provisional ballots have certainly caused headaches in the past, but it’s the only response to voter suppression we have. People purged from voting rolls in counties unnecessarily is half the reason we still need them. And assuming provisional ballots are all illegitimate is equally a wrong.

    With that said, my understanding of what has taken place in a couple of these counties is that no votes were recorded for specific races (whether senate or governor or other) while these tens of thousands of ballots had votes for every other race on them. That is indicative of computer issues and hopefully will be resolved by a mandatory hand count.

    At this point, the only injustice I see happening is a court ruling to stop any attempt to conduct a hand count across the state. THAT would be the gravest injustice to all.

  4. Nancy N. says:

    Concerned Citizen – provisional ballots are used by people who meet the voting requirements but there is some dispute at the moment of voting over whether they do or not. No provisional ballot may be counted unless the voter proves to the canvassing board that they ARE in fact eligible to vote before 5pm on the 2nd day after polls close.

    Plenty of people who are eligible to vote have need of a provisional ballot. There could be confusion over whether they returned an absentee ballot previously that needs to be sorted out. A pollworker might dispute the validity of their ID (or they might have forgotten their ID). A person might have undergone a name change and forgotten to change their name with SOE. And on, and on.

    Voting is our most basic right in this country. We shouldn’t be looking for paperwork excuses to deny it to people.

  5. Well.... says:

    Well….it is state law that mandates a recount if the difference between the two candidates does not exceed a specific percentage. If the roles were swapped, do you really think DeSantis and Skeletor would go down quietly? Ha! You are delusional. They would fight to the bitter end. Hypocrisy at it’s finest–a crook talking about how “crooked” this recount is when it’s state law. Although, do I expect a cook to know anything about the law other than how to break it and get away with it? Nah.

    I have friends, in GA, that waited seven hours to vote because the machines kept breaking and they only had six when they should’ve had triple that amount. Where do they live? Yep, in a Democratic, urban area with mostly African-American residents. You want to talk crooked and who suppresses voters…how about ones that are scared they will actually lose to someone of color, or a different sex, or sexual orientation….perhaps the SUPERVISOR OF ELECTIONS in an area that had rampant voting issues in a state where he so happened to run for governor. Come on. Open your eyes people. There is coincidence and then there is a smack in the face so hard it leaves a mark. Some of the stories coming out should do just that and make you realize we don’t need the Russians to corrupt our democracy when there are plenty of our own citizens willing to do that on their own.

  6. A Concerned Observer says:

    Concerned Citizen: A “provisional Ballot” is an alternative voting method for a voter whose eligibility is in question or cannot be verified at their polling site. Provisional ballots help protect against voter fraud and are governed by state law (see Florida Statute 101.048 for more information). It was designed to make every possible attempt to allow any vote to be counted if the voter does not meet the initial requirements to vote by being properly registered to vote at that particular precinct or for that particular election. I believe provisional ballots are not counted when an election is won by a margin exceeding the quantity of provisional votes. If the provisional vote quantity could affect the election each is evaluated for legality and counted if valid.
    Having explained that, is this the “The New Norm”? Is this how our society devolved? How long will we have to endure the incessant whining of every political party, group or individual who is upset that their candidate, proposition or amendment lost an election? This litigious, entitled attitude is clogging the courts, costing uncredible financial burdens (that in the end are paid by all taxpayers) and serving little more than giving the talking heads something to inflame those listening to them, to sell more advertising, garner attention and fueling a yet more divisive, polarized population. Get over it and move on people.

  7. Outsider says:

    Democrats try to overturn elections every time they lose; if they can’t win a re-count, they will start an endless smear campaign or impeachment proceedings. They can’t win on their ideas, so they resort to stealing and importing people who will vote for them. This why they want everyone to cross our border illegally, even if they are criminals. The victims of the undocumented criminals are an acceptable price to pay for them to gain power. The Democratic politicians are disgusting.

  8. Facts says:

    Another reason to leave the corrupt Democratic Party!

  9. Stephen Smith says:

    If the Republicans win it was fair. If they lose it was voter fraud.
    Both sides need to work together and have fair elections. No gerrymandering, voter suppression, or dark money.

  10. Alphonse Abonte says:

    All of a sudden 10s of thousands ballots show up! Some were transported in private cars. WOW!

  11. Kaiti Lenhart says:

    I understand your concern and you’re right, it would be simpler if everyone followed the rules. However, provisional ballots are an important part of the process. There are times when a voter’s eligibility cannot be determined at the polling place, either during Early Voting or on Election Day. We process each provisional ballot with care to ensure that each valid vote counts. The decision to accept or reject a provisional ballot is a duty of the Canvassing Board in every Florida county.

    Most often, a provisional ballot is issued when a voter does not bring identification with them to the polls. In this case, the provisional is treated just like a Vote-By-Mail ballot and if the signature on the envelope matches the voter’s signature on file (when they registered to vote), the ballot is counted. Other times, a provisional ballot is issued for an out of county address change to Flagler. This happens when we cannot contact another Florida county by phone on Election Day to ensure a voter has not already cast a ballot in their former county of residence. If further research shows that they did not vote, those provisional ballots are counted. If someone was not registered to vote by the book closing deadline for the election or does not otherwise meet the eligibility requirements set forth in Florida law, the provisional ballot cannot be counted. Each provisional involves a unique situation which requires research and individual attention. A majority of the Canvassing Board must agree to accept or reject each ballot and the decision is based upon that research and current law.

    And to all –
    My staff and I are preparing for the largest statewide recount in Florida’s history. Here in Flagler, we will be recounting 53,000+ ballots on Sunday at 9:00 A.M. and will continue daily until finished. This is a public meeting and interested persons are welcomed to attend. Our Vote-By-Mail, Early Voting and Election Day returns were fully reported on Election Night. Last night the Canvassing Board completed the provisional ballots and write-in votes. All ballots have been reconciled and accounted for and all of our county results have been reported to the Division of Elections ahead of statutory deadlines. This is our procedure for every election cycle. We are still running the election marathon and it’s nowhere near over. Your thoughts and prayers for my exhausted yet still dedicated staff would be most appreciated. Thanks to everyone who has sent a message or stopped by with words of encouragement. I’m so proud of our voters! This turnout is the highest since 2002 with a new RECORD number of Vote-By-Mail ballots returned for any election in Flagler County. Even with our countywide recount, I expect official results to be available after the 10-day extension for our active duty military and civilians overseas on November 16, 2018.

    As always, you’re welcome call the Elections Office with any questions: (386) 313-4170.

  12. atilla says:

    If people aren’t eligible to vote why in hell are they given a provisional ballot????????????????????????????????????

    • FlaglerLive says:

      The fact that they showed up without an ID doesn’t make them ineligible to vote, so long as they provide the required documentation within the required, and legally allotted, time, and the canvassing board determines the rules were met. No one who is not eligible to vote is casting ballots, at least none that would get the board’s ratification.

  13. Kim Gridley says:

    No matter what the results of the elections, nor if they are changed somewhere along the line due to unprocessed votes elsewhere in the state, I am extremely confident that the process here in Flagler County was honest and completely above board. Kaiti Lenhart and her staff were always available for questions on any aspect of the campaign process and they provided clear and competent explanations whenever they were asked. This represents a significant improvement over the previous supervisor.

  14. I say says:

    Why is the Secretary of State not providing information to us when he is the chief election officer of the state? It is the man that appointed him, Governor Rick Scott, that has filed a lawsuit over this election!!!!! Seems as though all election supervisors are doing things the way they want without any oversite. I’m concerned that Lenhart hasn’t skipped things as I was a marge first time voter who when voted for the first time she NDVET required that I present any ID. I’m also concerned over the fact last election she said the signature pad issue was an isolated issue when it was NOT! We need an investigation as to the approved voter registrations since July and the handling of all voted ballots in the state this election. This election was not as big as 2016 elections so there shouldn’t be any problems. I’m concerned that we can’t trust the process here in a Florida.

  15. Richard says:

    @Kathy Lenhart – what are you doing that is so DIFFERENT than what is going on in Palm & Broward Counties? Maybe you should travel down to those counties and teach them how to count ballots efficiently. It can’t be THAT difficult. Thank you for doing a GREAT job for Flagler County!

  16. The Truth says:

    All votes should be allowed and counted, that is what I call fair. Its our democracy, our freedom, and America. Scott and Trump are trying to stop everyone’s votes that haven’t been counted yet for fears Scott will be the loser. It the tables were turned they would want a all votes counted too, but if it isn’t in their favor they want to block it. They are not being fair to all voters, and that is not fair democracy.

  17. jim says:

    I am curious if or how many ballots cast in Flagler were rejected and for what reasons.

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