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Palm Beach Elections Dept. Ballot Counting Machines Break Down

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PALM BEACH (CBSMiami) - As Broward county's election department races against the clock to complete their ballot recount by the Thursday deadline, Palm Beach County is facing its own challenges.

On Tuesday, Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher said their outdated equipment is slowing them down.

"I don't think the state of Florida expected that we would have this many recounts but what I think is we have a lot of outdated statutes, a lot of outdated laws that were designed when we had a much lesser population," said Bucher.

Those comments came hours before the ballot counting machines completely broke down.

Bucher says that they have to re-run all the early voting ballots in the Senate race.

Technicians have been flown to South Florida to fix the machines, but it's not clear yet when they will be back up and running.

Bucher also claims for the past decade she has warned state officials that the current outdated machines needed to be replaced because they can only recount one race at a time.

"The machines are old, but they're certified by the state of Florida and it's irresponsible for the state to have a deadline that is unreasonable while they certify that machine equipment and they haven't uncertified it, so I'm hopeful that somebody will ask the Secretary of State to extend the deadline," she said.

Bucher said they have updated equipment in their budget, but they don't expect to receive the new machines until March 2019.

She says she's confident her team will at least be able to complete the recount for the state's Senate race but doesn't feel confident when it comes to recounting the race for Governor or Commissioner of Agriculture.

In the meantime, teams are working around the clock, in 12-hour shifts, at the Palm Beach County tabulation center to get as much done as possible.

The recount deadline is Thursday at 3 p.m. but its doubtful they will meet that deadline following the stoppage.

If counties aren't done with their recounts by the deadline, their unofficial original results will stand. Of course, there could be lawsuits about that.


Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner ordered recounts from 67 elections departments after receiving unofficial vote tallies on Saturday.

State law requires a recount when candidates are within one-half point when all the votes are counted. If it reaches .5 percent, it automatically triggers a statewide machine recount. If it goes within .25, it triggers a manual recount.

Currently, the Senate and Agriculture Commissioner races are close enough that they will need a manual recount.

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