Voices & Choices

History repeats itself in Florida recounts

History repeats itself in Florida recounts

The results are in. The votes have been counted - twice, and even a third time.

Florida has held an unprecedented three simultaneous statewide recounts since Election Day. Though the recounts attracted nationwide attention, none changed the outcomes of the elections. Vote totals changed a bit, but as in most other recounts, the candidates who entered the recount in the lead ultimately stayed in the lead.

Some speculated (or hoped) that unusual features of this election, such as exceptionally high voter turnout or the many troubling reports of errors and mismanagement in local election offices, would mean that these recounts would uncover more votes for the challengers than usual. The results, however, were generally consistent with past recounts FairVote has studied.

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The average margin shift in statewide recounts from 2000-2015 was .0191 percent. The average shift in  races with over 2 million votes cast, as was the case in Florida, was .0160 percent. The 2018 recounts for governor and agricultural commissioner shifted the margins by  about .0149 percent and .0174 percent, respectively. The recount in the U.S. Senate rate saw a slightly higher-than-average margin shift of .0309 percent, but it was still within the range of margin shifts in past recounts.

While the recounts did not reverse outcomes, they should not be dismissed as frivolous. The recount process revealed many concerning issues with the election. Florida lawmakers should take this opportunity to make improvements and provide election administrators with the resources they need to ensure a smoother election in 2020.

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