JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Just over 18 hours before the deadline to report results of recounts in three statewide races, Clay County wrapped up its recount earlier than anticipated Wednesday night.
Clay County began the process on Wednesday, becoming the last in Florida to start the recount.
Supervisor of Elections Chris Chambless said they did it differently than most counties -- running the ballots through the same scanners that were used in the precincts on Election Day.
"We believe the purest recount is one where you run (it on) the precinct ballot on the exact tabulator which they were originally counted on," Chambless said. "You will see we have all 47 precincts set up; 63 machines. And of course, we have the high-speed tabulator counting the early vote and vote-by-mail (ballots)."
As they had been in every other county, observers from both parties were on hand, watching to make sure the process was fair.
"We want to make sure our democracy is protected," said Lashonda Holloway, of the Democratic Voter Protection Team. "We don’t want our democracy to become a mockery. I believe every vote should count. I am here for the long haul."
Chambless had said he expected to finish the process by 11 p.m. Wednesday, but the process was completed by 7:30 p.m. after election workers spent 10 hours recounting ballots.
He said 94,038 ballots were accounted for -- a two-ballot difference from Election Day, but the winners from the races remained the same. According to Chambless, According to Chambless, the gubernatorial candidates fluctuated by two or three votes, both candidates for the Senate race went down by one vote and the commissioner of agriculture fluctuated by one vote.
"That could be accounted by a physical error in running the ballots with the election workers, with pretty much a standard anomaly," Chambless said.
Observer Craig Wells said it appeared the recount went smoothly.
"Based on what I saw today, I don’t think there’s a lot of reason to be concerned about what’s going on in Clay County," he said.
But Holloway had concerns about the two-ballot difference.
"I hope one, that all supervisors of elections will take every vote seriously and not just cavalierly dismiss one vote or two votes," she said. "I think every vote should count and I think what was missing, particularly in this county, was chain of custody.”
The deadline to report machine recount results to the state is 3 p.m. Thursday.
Duval County overcomes one more hiccup, completes recount
Supervisor of Elections Mike Hogan had hoped to finish the Duval County recount Tuesday evening, but ended for the day with a few things left to do.
Shortly after Hogan tweeted, "The recount is going well" Wednesday morning, an official said that because ta 39-ballot discrepancy was discovered Tuesday in the 381,754 cast, and because they had plenty of time left before the reporting deadline, they opted to recount those ballots one more time.
Just before 5 p.m., Duval County wrapped up its recount, finding five or fewer votes different in any race.
Nassau and Flagler counties finished on Sunday, one day after the recount was ordered. Alachua, Baker, Bradford and Columbia counties completed their machine recount results on Monday. St. Johns, Putnam and Union counties conducted their recounts Tuesday.
County-by-county machine recount resultPoint to county to see difference found in any candidate's total vote
In some cases, the results of the recount were no different than the unofficial totals reported to the state. In a few cases, candidates gained or lost a handful of votes, but Gainesville did identify 15 more votes for Bill Nelson and 11 fewer for Rick Scott.
Counties did find and set aside undervotes and overvotes -- where a voter either didn't fill in a choice or marked both boxes in an individual race. Counties found between a handful and 3,500 of these votes -- the largest number in the agriculture commissioner's race, which was also the closest after the initial vote count was completed.
If any race remains within 1/4 of 1 percent after the machine recount, a hand recount will require those undervotes and overvotes be examined to try and determine the voter's intent.
"We feel pretty certain we're going to a manual recount, so we're preparing for that," Nassau County Supervisor of Elections Vicki Cannon said Tuesday.
Florida Division of Elections spokeswoman Sarah Revell said the recount numbers for all counties won’t be posted for each county until after the Thursday deadline.
“We will post the second unofficial results all at one time on Florida Election Watch,” Revell said.
Supervisors said they don’t know how much the recounts will cost, but they don't have a choice.
News4Jax political analyst Rick Mullaney, who was heavily involved in the 2000 recount in Florida, said the state has come a long way since then.
"Technology has improved. Systems have improved. What hasn’t changed is, in a close race, emotions are going to run high, lawyers are going to get involved and people are going to fight for every vote," Mullaney said. "But in the end, once you have the initial count, it's rare for that to vary very much."