Florida made marked changes to law, voting machines after 2000 recount debacle

Recount rules standardized after 2000

TAMPA, Fla. — "People go back and think it's only Florida that can't count right. They do not understand election law,” said Dr. Susan McManus.

Florida may never live down its recount reputation from the year 2000, but it's made marked changes to ensure a similar debacle is not repeated — including introducing provisional ballots.

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"If you think you're registered and you go to a voting place and they don't have your name on the list, it's not like you're turned away. You actually can vote there and then they check it later,” said McManus.

The Tampa Bay Area-based political expert says it's unrealistic to think that with 13-plus million voters, all votes could be counted by election night.

Florida also nixed butterfly ballots after hanging chads problems in 2000. Optical scanner ballots, which is what we use now, allow for a paper trail.

And there are also clear rules for a statewide recount in all 67 counties that weren't in place nearly 20 years ago.

If a candidate loses an election by a margin of .5 percent or less, an automatic machine recount is mandated. After the machine recount, if the margin is .25 percent or less, Florida’s Secretary of State would order a manual recount.  

"In the 2000 election, the recounts only occurred in 4 counties and that was part of the problem. It wasn't standardized across the state. Florida law fixed it,” said McManus.

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