Machine recounts underway across Florida, including in NCFL

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) -- Many of Florida's 67 counties began their mandatory machine recounts of ballots in three key mid-term races on Sunday.

The race for governor between former U.S. Representative Ron DeSantis (R) and Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum (D), the showdown for the U.S. Senate seat between incumbent Senator Bill Nelson (D) and Governor Rick Scott (R), and the race for Commissioner of Agriculture between Matt Caldwell (R) and Nikki Fried (D) all triggered mandatory recounts.

The Alachua County Supervisor of Elections Office began its recount around 1 p.m. Sunday afternoon. The recount staff is made up mostly of poll workers of various party and non-party affiliations.

"The folks that have come in to help us feed ballots, most of these folks are poll workers that work elections," said Alachua County Supervisor of Elections Kim Barton. "They take pride in serving the voters of Alachua County, and they're really happy to help us with this part of the process as well."

The workers are separated into opposing pairs by party or non-party affiliation to ensure fairness. The workers will process about 116,000 ballots cast in Alachua County.

"The ballots will be run through. Any ballots that are kicked out due to over or under vote will be placed in a bin, and once all those ballots for that precinct go through, that bin will go to another machine at the end of all the machines," Barton said. "It will go in, that will accept the over and under votes."

Barton says she expects Alachua County to finish its recount by Monday night. The deadline for all Florida counties to submit their recount numbers is Thursday at 3 p.m.

Unofficial results show that DeSantis led Gillum by 0.41 percentage points in the election for governor. In the Senate race, Scott's lead over Nelson is 0.14 percentage points. Fried had a 0.07 percentage point lead over Caldwell in the race for agriculture commissioner.

State law requires a machine recount in races where the margin is less than 0.5 percentage points. Once completed, if the differences in any of the races are 0.25 percentage points or below, a hand recount will be ordered.

If a race's statewide margin falls below 0.25 percentage points after the machine count, the state will order a manual recount in each county. At that point, only the rejected ballots for that race will be examined by counting teams to determine if the voters' intentions were obvious. For example, some voters circle the candidate's name instead of filling in the ballot properly and some cross out their vote and then mark another candidate.

Barton said that she encourages the public to observe the recount. The Supervisor of Elections Office at 515 N. Main Street is open and there are seats provided to watch.

The Alachua County Canvassing Board includes Chairperson and Alachua County judge, Thomas Jaworski, County Commissioner Mike Byerly, and Supervisor of Elections, Kim Barton. The board alternates are Alachua County Judges Susan Miller-Jones and Kristine Van Vorst.

Recounts also began in Marion and Gilchrist Counties.