LAKELAND — A mandatory machine recount in Polk County and across the state for three races will begin Monday following an order by Florida's Secretary of State.
Polk County Supervisor of Elections Lori Edwards said she expects the recount in Polk to take two to three days. The deadline to submit the results to the state is 3 p.m. Thursday, she said.
Results from Saturday show that Republican Ron DeSantis leads Democrat Andrew Gillum by .41 percent in the governor's race. Republican Rick Scott is ahead of Democrat Bill Nelson in the Senate race by .15 percent. Democrat Nikki Fried leads Republican Matt Caldwell in the agriculture commissioner race by .06 percent.
Secretary of State Ken Detzner issued the recount order Saturday.
The recount was triggered because the results showed less than a 0.5 percent difference between the candidates.
During the machine recounts, the ballots with undervotes and overvotes in the races will be set aside in sealed containers under the watch of cameras. Edwards said manual recounts will be ordered by the state if any race shows a difference of .25 or less.
If a manual recount is called, then those undervotes and overvotes will be examined, Edwards said. The county's canvassing board would appoint counting teams to review each ballot with an undervote and overvote in the three races. Typically, the counting team is comprised of election office staff and poll workers who are registered Democrats and Republicans, she said.
The Polk County Sheriff's Office announced Saturday that two deputy sheriffs, one Republican and one Democrat, will be present during the recount to ''add an extra layer of observation, security and transparency to our voting system integrity,'' according to a news release from the Sheriff's Office.
The announcement of a recount came a day after the county reviewed its provisional ballots. In all, the county had a total of 497 provisional ballots, of which 253 were determined to be invalid, mostly because voters were not registered, Edwards said.
The canvassing board determined Friday that a total of 244 provisional ballots were eligible to be cast along with eight ballots that had been damaged either during early voting or at a precinct.
The canvassing board consists of County Commissioner Bill Braswell, County Judge Barry Bennett and Edwards.
"Our job is to make sure the system works the way it is intended to work," Braswell said. "I have 110 percent confidence that Polk County is doing it right. It is up front, out in the open and is taken as serious as serious can be."
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