Still counting ballots in Duval County

Recount likely in Jax Beach mayor's race, possible for clerk of court

Election Supervisor Jerry Holland and members of the Duval County Canvassing Boardcontinue to examine absentee and provisional ballots on Thursday.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Duval County Canvassing Board spent another day examining thousands of absentee and provisional ballots on Thursday, and officials say it could take until Saturday to reach the end of the process.

Brenda Priestly Jackson -- who was 6,253 behind Ronnie Fussell in the race for Duval County Clerk of Circuit Court as of mid-afternoon Thursday -- is nervously watching the process. Two days after the polls closed, there are enough uncounted absentee and provisional ballots that she could close the gap between them to less than 0.5 percent, which would trigger a recount.


"I respect the process, but I want to make certain that every vote is counted," said Priestly Jackson. "When we get the final numbers to deal, then we will make our decision as to what we do with that."

In the race for mayor of Jacksonville Beach, only 43 votes separated Penny Christian from Charlie Latham on Thursday afternoon -- already within the margin for a recount.

If a county-wide recount were necessary, it would cost about $150,000. A recount of just the Jacksonville Beach precincts will be much less.

Those inspecting about 3,600 absentee ballots remaining must make sure they are signed, and the signatures match the voters' signature on file with the Supervisor of Elections Office. Then there are about 6,000 provisional ballots -- those cast at precincts on Election Day if there was any question about the voter's eligibility.

"They voted provisional because there was question of their eligibility," said Supervisor of Elections Jerry Holland. "They may not have had their absentee ballot to surrender or may not have had ID. We have to determine if they are eligible to vote and have to go though those."

As of Friday afternoon, only provisional ballots remained to be counted in Duval County.

Holland says this is one reason why Florida is slow in finishing its vote count.

"The steps we do is to make sure the accuracy is there," Holland said. "I think, at the end of the day, speed is secondary to the accuracy."

The counties are required to provide the state unofficial vote totals by Saturday, and certified election results by Nov. 18.