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florida > The Florida Election Code > Conducting Elections And Ascertaining The Results

§ 102.141 County canvassing board; duties.

Statute

(1) The county canvassing board shall be composed of the supervisor of elections; a county court judge, who shall act as chair; and the chair of the board of county commissioners. Alternate canvassing board members must be appointed pursuant to paragraph (e). In the event any member of the county canvassing board is unable to serve, is a candidate who has opposition in the election being canvassed, or is an active participant in the campaign or candidacy of any candidate who has opposition in the election being canvassed, such member shall be replaced as follows:

(a) If no county court judge is able to serve or if all are disqualified, the chief judge of the judicial circuit in which the county is located shall appoint as a substitute member a qualified elector of the county who is not a candidate with opposition in the election being canvassed and who is not an active participant in the campaign or candidacy of any candidate with opposition in the election being canvassed. In such event, the members of the county canvassing board shall meet and elect a chair.
(b) If the supervisor of elections is unable to serve or is disqualified, the chair of the board of county commissioners shall appoint as a substitute member a member of the board of county commissioners who is not a candidate with opposition in the election being canvassed and who is not an active participant in the campaign or candidacy of any candidate with opposition in the election being canvassed. The supervisor, however, shall act in an advisory capacity to the canvassing board.
(c) If the chair of the board of county commissioners is unable to serve or is disqualified, the board of county commissioners shall appoint as a substitute member one of its members who is not a candidate with opposition in the election being canvassed and who is not an active participant in the campaign or candidacy of any candidate with opposition in the election being canvassed.
(d) If a substitute member or alternate member cannot be appointed as provided elsewhere in this subsection, or in the event of a vacancy in such office, the chief judge of the judicial circuit in which the county is located shall appoint as a substitute member or alternate member a qualified elector of the county who is not a candidate with opposition in the election being canvassed and who is not an active participant in the campaign or candidacy of any candidate with opposition in the election being canvassed.
(e)
1. The chief judge of the judicial circuit in which the county is located shall appoint a county court judge as an alternate member of the county canvassing board or, if each county court judge is unable to serve or is disqualified, shall appoint an alternate member who is qualified to serve as a substitute member under paragraph (a).
2. The chair of the board of county commissioners shall appoint a member of the board of county commissioners as an alternate member of the county canvassing board or, if each member of the board of county commissioners is unable to serve or is disqualified, shall appoint an alternate member who is qualified to serve as a substitute member under paragraph (d).
3. If a member of the county canvassing board is unable to participate in a meeting of the board, the chair of the county canvassing board or his or her designee shall designate which alternate member will serve as a member of the board in the place of the member who is unable to participate at that meeting.
4. If not serving as one of the three members of the county canvassing board, an alternate member may be present, observe, and communicate with the three members constituting the county canvassing board, but may not vote in the board’s decisions or determinations.
(2) The county canvassing board shall meet in a building accessible to the public in the county where the election occurred at a time and place to be designated by the supervisor of elections to publicly canvass the absent electors’ ballots as provided for in s. 101.68 and provisional ballots as provided by ss. 101.048, 101.049, and 101.6925. Provisional ballots cast pursuant to s. 101.049 shall be canvassed in a manner that votes for candidates and issues on those ballots can be segregated from other votes. Public notice of the time and place at which the county canvassing board shall meet to canvass the absent electors’ ballots and provisional ballots shall be given at least 48 hours prior thereto by publication on the supervisor of elections’ website and once in one or more newspapers of general circulation in the county or, if there is no newspaper of general circulation in the county, by posting such notice in at least four conspicuous places in the county. As soon as the absent electors’ ballots and the provisional ballots are canvassed, the board shall proceed to publicly canvass the vote given each candidate, nominee, constitutional amendment, or other measure submitted to the electorate of the county, as shown by the returns then on file in the office of the supervisor of elections.
(3) The canvass, except the canvass of absent electors’ returns and the canvass of provisional ballots, shall be made from the returns and certificates of the inspectors as signed and filed by them with the supervisor, and the county canvassing board shall not change the number of votes cast for a candidate, nominee, constitutional amendment, or other measure submitted to the electorate of the county, respectively, in any polling place, as shown by the returns. All returns shall be made to the board on or before 2 a.m. of the day following any primary, general, or other election. If the returns from any precinct are missing, if there are any omissions on the returns from any precinct, or if there is an obvious error on any such returns, the canvassing board shall order a retabulation of the returns from such precinct. Before canvassing such returns, the canvassing board shall examine the tabulation of the ballots cast in such precinct and determine whether the returns correctly reflect the votes cast. If there is a discrepancy between the returns and the tabulation of the ballots cast, the tabulation of the ballots cast shall be presumed correct and such votes shall be canvassed accordingly.
(4)
(a) The supervisor of elections shall upload into the county’s election management system by 7 p.m. on the day before the election the results of all early voting and vote-by-mail ballots that have been canvassed and tabulated by the end of the early voting period. Pursuant to ss.101.5614(9), 101.657, and 101.68(2), the tabulation of votes cast or the results of such uploads may not be made public before the close of the polls on election day.
(b) The canvassing board shall report all early voting and all tabulated vote-by-mail results to the Department of State within 30 minutes after the polls close. Thereafter, the canvassing board shall report, with the exception of provisional ballot results, updated precinct election results to the department at least every 45 minutes until all results are completely reported. The supervisor of elections shall notify the department immediately of any circumstances that do not permit periodic updates as required. Results shall be submitted in a format prescribed by the department.
(5) The canvassing board shall submit on forms or in formats provided by the division unofficial returns to the Department of State for each federal, statewide, state, or multicounty office or ballot measure no later than noon on the third day after any primary election and no later than noon on the fourth day after any general or other election. Such returns shall include the canvass of all ballots as required by subsection (2).

(6) If the county canvassing board determines that the unofficial returns may contain a counting error in which the vote tabulation system failed to count votes that were properly marked in accordance with the instructions on the ballot, the county canvassing board shall:

(a) Correct the error and retabulate the affected ballots with the vote tabulation system; or
(b) Request that the Department of State verify the tabulation software. When the Department of State verifies such software, the department shall compare the software used to tabulate the votes with the software filed with the department pursuant to s. 101.5607 and check the election parameters.

(7) If the unofficial returns reflect that a candidate for any office was defeated or eliminated by one-half of a percent or less of the votes cast for such office, that a candidate for retention to a judicial office was retained or not retained by one-half of a percent or less of the votes cast on the question of retention, or that a measure appearing on the ballot was approved or rejected by one-half of a percent or less of the votes cast on such measure, a recount shall be ordered of the votes cast with respect to such office or measure. The Secretary of State is responsible for ordering recounts in federal, state, and multicounty races. The county canvassing board or the local board responsible for certifying the election is responsible for ordering recounts in all other races. A recount need not be ordered with respect to the returns for any office, however, if the candidate or candidates defeated or eliminated from contention for such office by one-half of a percent or less of the votes cast for such office request in writing that a recount not be made.

(a) Each canvassing board responsible for conducting a recount shall put each marksense ballot through automatic tabulating equipment and determine whether the returns correctly reflect the votes cast. If any marksense ballot is physically damaged so that it cannot be properly counted by the automatic tabulating equipment during the recount, a true duplicate shall be made of the damaged ballot pursuant to the procedures in s. 101.5614(5). Immediately before the start of the recount, a test of the tabulating equipment shall be conducted as provided in s. 101.5612. If the test indicates no error, the recount tabulation of the ballots cast shall be presumed correct and such votes shall be canvassed accordingly. If an error is detected, the cause therefor shall be ascertained and corrected and the recount repeated, as necessary. The canvassing board shall immediately report the error, along with the cause of the error and the corrective measures being taken, to the Department of State. No later than 11 days after the election, the canvassing board shall file a separate incident report with the Department of State, detailing the resolution of the matter and identifying any measures that will avoid a future recurrence of the error.
(b) Each canvassing board responsible for conducting a recount where touchscreen ballots were used shall examine the counters on the precinct tabulators to ensure that the total of the returns on the precinct tabulators equals the overall election return. If there is a discrepancy between the overall election return and the counters of the precinct tabulators, the counters of the precinct tabulators shall be presumed correct and such votes shall be canvassed accordingly.
(c) The canvassing board shall submit on forms or in formats provided by the division a second set of unofficial returns to the Department of State for each federal, statewide, state, or multicounty office or ballot measure. The returns shall be filed no later than 3 p.m. on the 5th day after any primary election and no later than 3 p.m. on the 9th day after any general election in which a recount was ordered by the Secretary of State. If the canvassing board is unable to complete the recount prescribed in this subsection by the deadline, the second set of unofficial returns submitted by the canvassing board shall be identical to the initial unofficial returns and the submission shall also include a detailed explanation of why it was unable to timely complete the recount. However, the canvassing board shall complete the recount prescribed in this subsection, along with any manual recount prescribed in s. 102.166, and certify election returns in accordance with the requirements of this chapter.
(d) The Department of State shall adopt detailed rules prescribing additional recount procedures for each certified voting system, which shall be uniform to the extent practicable.
(8) The canvassing board may employ such clerical help to assist with the work of the board as it deems necessary, with at least one member of the board present at all times, until the canvass of the returns is completed. The clerical help shall be paid from the same fund as inspectors and other necessary election officials.

(9)

(a) At the same time that the official results of an election are certified to the Department of State, the county canvassing board shall file a report with the Division of Elections on the conduct of the election. The report must describe:

1. All equipment or software malfunctions at the precinct level, at a counting location, or within computer and telecommunications networks supporting a county location, and the steps that were taken to address the malfunctions;
2. All election definition errors that were discovered after the logic and accuracy test, and the steps that were taken to address the errors;
3. All ballot printing errors or ballot supply problems, and the steps that were taken to address the errors or problems;
4. All staffing shortages or procedural violations by employees or precinct workers which were addressed by the supervisor of elections or the county canvassing board during the conduct of the election, and the steps that were taken to correct such issues;
5. All instances where needs for staffing or equipment were insufficient to meet the needs of the voters; and
6. Any additional information regarding material issues or problems associated with the conduct of the election.
(b) If a supervisor discovers new or additional information on any of the items required to be included in the report pursuant to paragraph (a) after the report is filed, the supervisor shall notify the division that new information has been discovered no later than the next business day after the discovery, and the supervisor shall file an amended report signed by the supervisor of elections on the conduct of the election within 10 days after the discovery.
(c) Such reports shall be maintained on file in the Division of Elections and shall be available for public inspection. The division shall utilize the reports submitted by the canvassing boards to determine what problems may be likely to occur in other elections and disseminate such information, along with possible solutions, to the supervisors of elections.

(10) The supervisor shall file with the department a copy of or an export file from the results database of the county’s voting system and other statistical information as may be required by the department, the Legislature, or the Election Assistance Commission. The department shall adopt rules establishing the required content and acceptable formats for the filings and time for filings.

History:

s. 46, ch. 6469, 1913; RGS 350; CGL 407; s. 11, ch. 13761, 1929; s. 6, ch. 26870, 1951; s. 1, ch. 57-104; s. 6, ch. 65-129; s. 19, ch. 73-334; s. 26, ch. 77-175; s. 47, ch. 79-400; s. 18, ch. 84-302; s. 4, ch. 86-33; s. 600, ch. 95-147; s. 41, ch. 2001-40; s. 20, ch. 2002-17; s. 26, ch. 2003-415; s. 58, ch. 2005-277; s. 33, ch. 2007-30; s. 14, ch. 2010-167; s. 43, ch. 2011-40; s. 19, ch. 2013-57; s. 34, ch. 2016-37.
Former s. 102.45.
Definition [Department]

The Department of State.

Definition [Supervisor]

The supervisor of elections.

Definition [Early Voting]

Casting a ballot prior to election day at a location designated by the supervisor of elections and depositing the voted ballot in the tabulation system.

Definition [Polling Place]

The building which contains the polling room where ballots are cast.

Definition [Voting System]
A method of casting and processing votes that functions wholly or partly by use of electromechanical or electronic apparatus or by use of marksense ballots and includes, but is not limited to, the procedures for casting and processing votes and the programs, operating manuals, supplies, printouts, and other software necessary for the system’s operation.
Definition [Absent Elector]

Any registered and qualified voter who casts an absentee ballot.

Definition [Judicial Office]

Includes the office of:

(a) Justice of the Supreme Court.

(b) Judge of a district court of appeal.

(c) Judge of a circuit court.

(d) County court judge.

A judicial office is a nonpartisan office, and a candidate for election or retention thereto is prohibited from campaigning or qualifying for such an office based on party affiliation.

Definition [General Election]

An election held on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November in the even-numbered years, for the purpose of filling national, state, county, and district offices and for voting on constitutional amendments not otherwise provided for by law.

Definition [Primary Election]

An election held preceding the general election for the purpose of nominating a party nominee to be voted for in the general election to fill a national, state, county, or district office.

Definition [Provisional Ballot]

A conditional ballot, the validity of which is determined by the canvassing board.

Definition [Newspaper of General Circulation]

A newspaper printed in the language most commonly spoken in the area within which it circulates and which is readily available for purchase by all inhabitants in the area of circulation, but does not include a newspaper intended primarily for members of a particular professional or occupational group, a newspaper the primary function of which is to carry legal notices, or a newspaper that is given away primarily to distribute advertising.

Definition [Issue]

A proposition that is required by the State Constitution, by law or resolution of the Legislature, or by the charter, ordinance, or resolution of a political subdivision of this state to be submitted to the electors for their approval or rejection at an election, or a proposition for which a petition is circulated in order to have such proposition placed on the ballot at an election.

Definition [Ballot]

As used in the Electronic Voting Systems Act, ballot means the card, tape, or other vehicle upon which the elector’s choices are recorded.

Definition [Elector]

“Elector” is synonymous with the word “voter” or “qualified elector or voter,” except where the word is used to describe presidential electors.

Definition [Division]

The Division of Elections of the Department of State.

Definition [Election]

Any primary election, special primary election, special election, general election, or presidential preference primary election.

Definition [Software]

As used in the Electronic Voting Systems Act, software means the programs and routines used to employ and control the capabilities of data processing hardware, including, without limitation, operating systems, compilers, assemblers, utilities, library routines, maintenance routines, applications, and computer networking programs.

Definition [Candidate]

Any person to whom any one or more of the following applies:

(a) Any person who seeks to qualify for nomination or election by means of the petitioning process.
(b) Any person who seeks to qualify for election as a write-in candidate.
(c) Any person who receives contributions or makes expenditures, or gives his or her consent for any other person to receive contributions or make expenditures, with a view to bringing about his or her nomination or election to, or retention in, public office.
(d) Any person who appoints a treasurer and designates a primary depository.
(e) Any person who files qualification papers and subscribes to a candidate’s oath as required by law.
This definition does not include any candidate for a political party executive committee.

Cases

florida Cases

Case Name: Wexler v. Lepore

Citation: 878 So.2d 1276

Year: 2004

Case URL: https://www.ravellaw.com/opinions/a64f9a0c363eae4d70f7c6981b8b7616

Case Summary: Wexler v. Lepore held that the Secretary of State had statutory authority under the Electronic Voting Rights Act to handle how recounts would be conducted. As such, Weller's suit was dismissed.

Out-of-State Cases

Federal Cases

Case Name: Florida Democratic Party v. Hood

Citation: 342 F.Supp.2d 1073

Federal District Court: Northern District of Florida

Year: 2004

Case URL: https://www.ravellaw.com/opinions/f8ed406a86e6040346d1c9bb29736aaa?query=Florida[...]

Case Summary: Florida Democratic Party v. Hood held that the Florida Democratic Party had standing to sue on behalf of voters who would be denied the chance to cast provisional ballots; that HAVA did not require ballots cast in wrong precincts to be counted; that HAVA did require that voters who thought they were registered be given the chance to cast provisional ballots; and that requirements for issuing a preliminary injunction requiring the distribution of provisional ballots were satisfied, after the Party sued Florida, seeking a preliminary injunction preventing election workers from denying provisional ballots to prospective voters who they believed were not registered.

Case Name: Bush v. Gore

Citation: 531 U.S. 98

Federal District Court: Eastern District of Virginia

Year: 2000

Case URL: https://www.ravellaw.com/opinions/ffe23a532d148e534fb47425579e2894?query=531%20U[...]

Case Summary: Bush v. Gore held that Florida's recount procedures were inconsistent with the minimum procedures necessary to protect the fundamental right of each voter in the instance of a statewide recount under the authority of a single state judicial officer.

Case Name: Wexler v. Anderson

Citation: 452 F.3d 1226

Federal Circuit Court: 11th Circuit Court

Year: 2006

Case URL: https://www.ravellaw.com/opinions/4bdc86e343b5d929a2cddfb707162b60?query=Wexler%[...]

Case Summary: Wexler v. Anderson held that Florida's manual recount procedures did not violate equal protection because, as to the possibility that should voters in touchscreen counties cast residual ballots, those ballots would receive a different and possibly inferior type of review in a manual recount was not enough of a burden to make strict scrutiny appropriate; and the procedures were justified by Florida's regulatory interests.

Regulations & Guidance

Additional Resources

Further Reading

  • Fla. Jur. 2d Elections s 17, Canvassing returns; determination of person nominated or elected

  • Fla. Jur. 2d Elections s 156, Provisional ballots-Special circumstances

  • Fla. Jur. 2d Elections s 179, Generally; canvassing commission and boards

  • Fla. Jur. 2d Elections s 180, Powers and duties of canvassing commission and boards, generally

  • Fla. Jur. 2d Elections s 181, Recounts

  • Fla. Jur. 2d Elections s 182, Recounts-Manual Recount

  • Fla. Jur. 2d Elections s 183, Canvass of absentee ballots

  • Fla. Jur. 2d Elections s 186, Canvass of precinct returns

  • 0050 Surveys 6; Certification of Results – General Elections

  • 0050 Surveys 7; Certification of Results – Primary Elections