Emerging from three hours with the elections supervisor of St. Lucie County on Thursday— the only county that missed the deadline for filing final election results — Secretary of State Ken Detzner said he was concerned that current deadlines may not give counties enough time to complete recounts. Detzner said he has asked his staff to research the length of time other states give their election officials to conduct recounts. St. Lucie County missed the deadline by 8 seconds, Walker said. “Clearly when there is a recount, there needs to be a reasonable amount of time,” Detzner said, acknowledging that election workers in St. Lucie worked through the night to meet the deadline and that election laws need to reflect what is humanly possible.
Supervisors of elections have until noon the 12th day after the election to certify their final results. “I’ve asked my staff to find out if a statewide recount in a presidential election would be possible in that amount of time,” he said.
St. Lucie County Supervisor of Elections Gertrude Walker became the target of angry voters after Walker admitted that her staff mistakenly double-counted some ballots and ignored others on election night. The outcome of the hotly contested congressional race between tea party icon Allen West and newcomer Patrick Murphy hung in the balance as the St. Lucie County Canvassing Board recounted tens of thousands of ballots.
Florida election law requires the preliminary results to be used to name a winner if a canvassing board does not certify its results before the deadline. Walker, who has been supervisor for 28 years, was hospitalized during the recount. She said her staff was traumatized by insults hurled by West’s supporters and parked their cars behind the supervisor’s office to avoid the agitated crowd.
Detzner’s meeting with Walker capped three days of meetings with election supervisors in five large counties that encountered long lines and other problems during the Nov. 6 election: Hillsborough, Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach and St. Lucie. Detzner said he repeatedly heard the same complaints: not enough time or locations for early voting and ballot initiatives that were too long.