The tumultuous midterm elections of 2018 led to three statewide recounts in Florida, a first in Florida’s history.
A machine recount was ordered by Secretary of State Ken Detzner in the U.S. Senate, Governor, and State Commission of Agriculture races with margins so tight in two races that a hand recount was later ordered. It was quite a roller coaster ride for both the candidates and voters with protests and lawsuits ensuing focused mostly around the vote counting process as election officials debated over matching signatures, ballot designs, and being allotted enough time to count every vote the right way.
In the stories below we take a look back on the election and all the problems that arose including taking a look at why Florida seems destined to repeat its past and what might change to keep the 2020 presidential election from suffering the same fate as 2018 and 2000.
The 2018 midterm election was already shaping up to be a big production in Florida well before November 6th. Election officials and political experts alike were encouraging voters to vote early and by mail because of a long ballot full of races and ballot measures. One of the key ways to verify a voter’s ballot is their signature, which caused some voters to not have their vote counted because their signature didn’t align with the one on file. WUFT’s Maria Roberts takes a look at why signatures are used to verify voters in the first place and if they’re really the best option.
Matching voters’ signatures wasn’t the only problem that popped up during this election. While issues with signatures can be fixed if caught in time, missing a race on the ballot that caused you to not cast a vote at all is something that can’t be corrected after ballots are submitted. While that may seem like voter error, in Broward County it came down to a question of ballot design and whether a mistake was made by county election officials. WUFT’s Dolores Hinckley has a closer look at how one ballot design problem may have a cost a candidate in a very close race.
This seems familiar
This is not the first-time ballot design caused problems in an election. Back in 2000, it was butterfly ballots and hanging chads and the outcome of a presidential election at stake. WUFT’s Matthew Serna revisits the 2000 presidential election and talks to some of the players involved in both the 2000 and 2018 recounts in an attempt to find out how Florida managed to find itself in the same place 18 years later.
Matthew Serna continues his trip back to 2000 to find how what changed after the 2000 election in Florida and how those changes impacted the 2018 recount.
What might change in 2020
The state’s supervisors of elections aren’t the only ones looking at 2018 and wondering how they could do better. Elections stakeholders from political groups to legislators are taking a hard look at Florida’s voting policies going into 2019 with an eye on the next major election in 2020. WUFT’s Maria Roberts spoke to some them to find out what they’d like to see improved before the next election.
Preventing another 2018 is not the only election issue Florida legislators need to consider in the upcoming legislative session. Amendment 4 which gave felons, excluding murderers and sex offenders, the right to vote passed on November 6th. That means on January 8th more than a million new people in Florida may be able to register to vote, or maybe not. Incoming governor Ron DeSantis and some state lawmakers say they need to weigh in on the amendment before any changes are made. As WUFT’s Taylour Marks found out, that has some election officials confused on how to proceed.