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The Florida Statutes

The 2000 Florida Statutes

Title IX
ELECTORS AND ELECTIONS
Chapter 101
Voting Methods And Procedure
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Section 101.5614, Florida Statutes 2000

101.5614  Canvass of returns.--

(1)(a)  In precincts in which an electronic or electromechanical voting system is used, as soon as the polls are closed, the election board shall secure the voting devices against further voting. The election board shall thereafter open the ballot box in the presence of members of the public desiring to witness the proceedings and count the number of voted ballots, unused ballots, and spoiled ballots to ascertain whether such number corresponds with the number of ballots issued by the supervisor. If there is a difference, this fact shall be reported in writing to the county canvassing board with the reasons therefor if known. The total number of voted ballots shall be entered on the forms provided. The proceedings of the election board at the precinct after the polls have closed shall be open to the public; however, no person except a member of the election board shall touch any ballot or ballot container or interfere with or obstruct the orderly count of the ballots.

(b)  In lieu of opening the ballot box at the precinct, the supervisor may direct the election board to keep the ballot box sealed and deliver it to a central or regional counting location. In this case, the election board shall count the stubs removed from the ballots to determine the number of voted ballots.

(2)(a)  If the ballots are to be tallied at a central location or at no more than three regional locations, the election board shall place all ballots that have been cast and the unused, void, and defective ballots in the container or containers provided for this purpose, which shall be sealed and delivered forthwith to the central or regional counting location or other designated location by two inspectors who shall not, whenever possible, be of the same political party. The election board shall certify that the ballots were placed in such container or containers and each container was sealed in its presence and under its supervision, and it shall further certify to the number of ballots of each type placed in the container or containers.

(b)  If ballots are to be counted at the precincts, such ballots shall be counted pursuant to rules adopted by the Department of State, which rules shall provide safeguards which conform as nearly as practicable to the safeguards provided in the procedures for the counting of votes at a central location.

(3)(a)  All proceedings at the central or regional counting location or other designated location shall be under the direction of the county canvassing board and shall be open to the public, but no person except a person employed and authorized for the purpose shall touch any ballot or ballot container, any item of automatic tabulating equipment, or any return prior to its release. If the ballots are tabulated at regional locations, one member of the canvassing board or a person designated by the board to represent it shall be present at each location during the testing of the counting equipment and the tabulation of the ballots.

(b)  If ballots are tabulated at regional locations, the results of such election may be transmitted via dedicated teleprocessing lines to the main computer system for the purpose of compilation of complete returns. The security guidelines for transmission of returns by dedicated teleprocessing lines shall conform to rules adopted by the Department of State pursuant to s. 101.015.

(4)  If ballot cards are used, and separate write-in ballots or envelopes for casting write-in votes are used, write-in ballots or the envelopes on which write-in ballots have been cast shall be serially numbered, starting with the number one, and the same number shall be placed on the ballot card of the voter. This process may be completed at either the precinct by the election board or at the central counting location. For each ballot or ballot and ballot envelope on which write-in votes have been cast, the canvassing board shall compare the write-in votes with the votes cast on the ballot card; if the total number of votes for any office exceeds the number allowed by law, a notation to that effect, specifying the office involved, shall be entered on the back of the ballot card or in a margin if voting areas are printed on both sides of the ballot card. Such votes shall not be counted. All valid votes shall be tallied by the canvassing board.

(5)  If any ballot card of the type for which the offices and measures are not printed directly on the card is damaged or defective so that it cannot properly be counted by the automatic tabulating equipment, a true duplicate copy shall be made of the damaged ballot card in the presence of witnesses and substituted for the damaged ballot. Likewise, a duplicate ballot card shall be made of a defective ballot which shall not include the invalid votes. All duplicate ballot cards shall be clearly labeled "duplicate," bear a serial number which shall be recorded on the damaged or defective ballot card, and be counted in lieu of the damaged or defective ballot. If any ballot card of the type for which offices and measures are printed directly on the card is damaged or defective so that it cannot properly be counted by the automatic tabulating equipment, a true duplicate copy may be made of the damaged ballot card in the presence of witnesses and in the manner set forth above, or the valid votes on the damaged ballot card may be manually counted at the counting center by the canvassing board, whichever procedure is best suited to the system used. If any paper ballot is damaged or defective so that it cannot be counted properly by the automatic tabulating equipment, the ballot shall be counted manually at the counting center by the canvassing board. The totals for all such ballots or ballot cards counted manually shall be added to the totals for the several precincts or election districts. No vote shall be declared invalid or void if there is a clear indication of the intent of the voter as determined by the canvassing board. After duplicating a ballot, the defective ballot shall be placed in an envelope provided for that purpose, and the duplicate ballot shall be tallied with the other ballots for that precinct.

(6)  If an elector marks more names than there are persons to be elected to an office or if it is impossible to determine the elector's choice, the elector's ballot shall not be counted for that office, but the ballot shall not be invalidated as to those names which are properly marked.

(7)  Absentee ballots may be counted by automatic tabulating equipment if they have been punched or marked in a manner which will enable them to be properly counted by such equipment.

(8)  The return printed by the automatic tabulating equipment, to which has been added the return of write-in, absentee, and manually counted votes, shall constitute the official return of the election. Upon completion of the count, the returns shall be open to the public. A copy of the returns may be posted at the central counting place or at the office of the supervisor of elections in lieu of the posting of returns at individual precincts.

History.--s. 14, ch. 73-156; s. 1, ch. 77-174; s. 21, ch. 77-175; s. 14, ch. 81-105; s. 17, ch. 84-302; s. 1, ch. 85-17; s. 5, ch. 86-200; s. 17, ch. 90-315; s. 1, ch. 94-208.