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Florida Recount Rules: What is Needed to Trigger a Recount?

voting in Florida, Florida recounts, Florida recount rules

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Once again, the vote in Florida is going to be close. What does it take to trigger a recount in the state? There has to be just a 0.5 percent difference in the number of votes between two candidates or an issue.

The law on recounts in the state is outlined in Florida Statute 102.141(7). However, as the National Conference of State Legislatures notes, a candidate cannot request a recount. However, a losing candidate can submit a written request that a recount not be held. It is up to the Secretary of State to order recounts in races.

Here is the full section of the statute on recounts:

If the unofficial returns reflect that a candidate for any office was defeated or eliminated by one-half of a percent or less of the votes cast for such office, that a candidate for retention to a judicial office was retained or not retained by one-half of a percent or less of the votes cast on the question of retention, or that a measure appearing on the ballot was approved or rejected by one-half of a percent or less of the votes cast on such measure, a recount shall be ordered of the votes cast with respect to such office or measure.

The Secretary of State is responsible for ordering recounts in federal, state, and multicounty races. The county canvassing board or the local board responsible for certifying the election is responsible for ordering recounts in all other races. A recount need not be ordered with respect to the returns for any office, however, if the candidate or candidates defeated or eliminated from contention for such office by one-half of a percent or less of the votes cast for such office request in writing that a recount not be made.

As FactCheck.org notes, there never actually was a full recount for Florida in 2000, when George W. Bush and Al Gore were on the ballot. The Florida Supreme Court ordered for there to be a recount, but the U.S. Supreme Court stopped it and Bush was named the winner in Bush v. Gore. The Florida Supreme Court order was just for “undervotes,” which were a group of 62,000 votes where voting machines didn’t pic up a vote for presidential candidates.

Florida has 29 electoral votes.

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