As Florida suffered through nearly two weeks of election counts and recounts, the scale of the vote-tallying woes in some places became painfully evident. Three of Florida’s four largest counties — Broward, Palm Beach and Hillsborough — admitted to problems in their machine recounts so troubling that they either failed or refused to submit results by the state’s deadline. And little wonder. During the statewide machine recount, the number of votes counted in the Senate race in Broward County was 3,500 less than the initial tally. Among the culprits: the county elections office’s accidental omission of 2,000 early-voting ballots in the machine recount. In Palm Beach, elections officials conducting the recount found “dozens of precincts missing a significant number” of votes, something that county Elections Supervisor Susan Bucher blamed on malfunctioning vote-counting machines. That prompted a time-consuming redo, which Bucher said caused her office to fail to meet the deadline for the Senate race. Saddled with tabulating machines that could not recount more than one race at a time, she did not even begin the recount for the other races, making hers the only office in Florida to fail to complete its machine recount in the five days allowed.
The other two, Broward and Hillsborough, finished the recount on time but didn’t make the deadline for other reasons.
Most of Florida’s 67 counties have far fewer ballots to count. Union County, for example, had 5,000. Palm Beach County had nearly 600,000.
In Hillsborough, which had the fourth-largest vote total at 521,000, elections officials were so unnerved by an 846-vote drop in the recount that they refused to submit their results to the state, even though they finished with time to spare.
For the big dip in the vote totals, Hillsborough’s Elections Supervisor Craig Latimer blamed power outages and the loss of a voting machine, The Miami Herald reported.
“Even though we achieved 99.84 percent success in our recount effort, we are not willing to accept that votes go unreported,” Latimer told The New York Times.