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No Hanging Chads This Election Recount

It may look like the recount for three of the state's top elected positions is a flashback to 2000. But a lot has changed since that contested presidential election.


In the 2000 election, the fate of the presidency was decided by a few hundred votes in Florida. Since then, steps were put into place to prevent that from happening again. First, all ballots must be filled out with pen by marking an oval to reflect your vote. That way, no half-punched chads can dangle from a punched paper ballot.

Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections Craig Latimer says they have gone through three different types of tabulations machines since 2000. They now use optical scanners.

"Optical scan is very reliable," he said. "As a matter of fact, if you live in Florida, you probably just trusted optical scan with your $1.4 billion Mega Million ticket that you bought. Because it's the exact same technology."

The mandates for automatic and hand recounts when the vote differential falls below a certain threshold is also an outgrowth of the 2000 election. 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.

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Steve Newborn is WUSF's assistant news director as well as a reporter and producer at WUSF covering environmental issues and politics in the Tampa Bay area.