TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami) - One of the dirtiest words in Florida election history could be uttered on November 4th. The gubernatorial candidates could demand a recount.
"The dreaded R-word," said Christina White with Miami-Dade Elections. "It's something we don't like to think about in the election field."
Polls have shown both Gov. Rick Scott and Democratic candidate Charlie Crist are essentially deadlocked. Whatever the survey, both have marginal leads that fall within the margin of error. This has prompted both parties to be ready for the inevitable stalemate.
The standstill would be reminiscent of the five-week long Florida recount that followed the 2000 presidential election.
A machine recount is required when the margin between two candidates is half of a percentage point or less. So if half of Florida turns out to vote – approximately six million people – 30,000 votes could be the difference factor.
For an example of how close the margin really is, just take a look at the gubernatorial election four years ago. When Scott beat Democrat Alex Sink by 61,550 votes – 1.2 percent out of the 5.4 million votes cast – the winner wasn't known until the next morning.
"In the event that a recount is called for this particular race, that's going be completely under the jurisdiction and direction of the Secretary of State's office and Elections Canvassing Commission, because it's a statewide rade," said White.
In other words, that order comes down from Ken Detzner who is a political appointee of Scott. It would be just like in 2000 when Republican Secretary of State Katherine Harris ruled against Democrats on every issue.
If it comes down to that, two things would occur.
First is a machine recount that double-checks the totals. If at any point the automated machines bring the gap between the candidates to a quarter of a percentage point or less, a manual recount would take place of all undervotes and overvotes.
- Undervote: Occurs when a voter casts no vote in a race
- Overvote: Occurs when a voter chooses more than one candidate
These issues have declined since Florida abandoned punch-card ballots following the fiasco in 2000.
Crist ordered the change to optical scan paper ballots when he took office in 2007.
"We can only hope that if a recount is necessary, that this time it will be administered fairly unlike the Republican political interference that occurred in 2000," said Democratic activist Joe Geller.
No matter what happens, the final results must be certified by 9a.m. Tuesday, Nov.18.
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