The Secretary of State is responsible for ordering a manual recount for federal, state, and multicounty races. The county canvassing board or local board responsible for certifying the election is responsible for ordering a manual recount for all other races.
(1) If the second set of unofficial returns pursuant to s. 102.141 indicates that a candidate for any office was defeated or eliminated by one-quarter 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-quarter 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-quarter of a percent or less of the votes cast on such measure, a manual recount of the overvotes and undervotes cast in the entire geographic jurisdiction of such office or ballot measure shall be ordered unless:
(a) The candidate or candidates defeated or eliminated from contention by one-quarter of 1 percent or fewer of the votes cast for such office request in writing that a recount not be made; or
(b) The number of overvotes and undervotes is fewer than the number of votes needed to change the outcome of the election.
(2)(a) Any hardware or software used to identify and sort overvotes and undervotes for a given race or ballot measure must be certified by the Department of State as part of the voting system pursuant to s. 101.015. Any such hardware or software must be capable of simultaneously counting votes.
(b) Overvotes and undervotes shall be identified and sorted while recounting ballots pursuant to s. 102.141, if the hardware or software for this purpose has been certified or the department’s rules so provide.
(3) Any manual recount shall be open to the public.
(4)(a) A vote for a candidate or ballot measure shall be counted if there is a clear indication on the ballot that the voter has made a definite choice.
(b) The Department of State shall adopt specific rules for the federal write-in absentee ballot and for each certified voting system prescribing what constitutes a “clear indication on the ballot that the voter has made a definite choice.” The rules shall be consistent, to the extent practicable, and may not:
1. Exclusively provide that the voter must properly mark or designate his or her choice on the ballot; or
2. Contain a catch-all provision that fails to identify specific standards, such as “any other mark or indication clearly indicating that the voter has made a definite choice.”
(c) The rule for the federal write-in absentee ballot must address, at a minimum, the following issues:
1. The appropriate lines or spaces for designating a candidate choice and, for state and local races, the office or ballot measure to be voted, including the proximity of each to the other and the effect of intervening blank lines.
2. The sufficiency of designating a candidate’s first or last name when no other candidate in the race has the same or a similar name.
3. The sufficiency of designating a candidate’s first or last name when an opposing candidate has the same or a similar name, notwithstanding generational suffixes and titles such as “Jr.,” “Sr.,” or “III.” The rule should contemplate the sufficiency of additional first names and first initials, middle names and middle initials, generational suffixes and titles, nicknames, and, in general elections, the name or abbreviation of a political party.
4. Candidate designations containing both a qualified candidate’s name and a political party, including those in which the party designated is the candidate’s party, is not the candidate’s party, has an opposing candidate in the race, or does not have an opposing candidate in the race.
5. Situations where the abbreviation or name of a candidate is the same as the abbreviation or name of a political party to which the candidate does not belong, including those in which the party designated has another candidate in the race or does not have a candidate in the race.
6. The use of marks, symbols, or language, such as arrows, quotation marks, or the word “same” or “ditto,” to indicate that the same political party designation applies to all listed offices or the elector’s approval or disapproval of all listed ballot measures.
7. Situations in which an elector designates the name of a qualified candidate for an incorrect office.
8. Situations in which an elector designates an otherwise correct office name that includes an incorrect district number.
(5) Procedures for a manual recount are as follows:
(a) The county canvassing board shall appoint as many counting teams of at least two electors as is necessary to manually recount the ballots. A counting team must have, when possible, members of at least two political parties. A candidate involved in the race shall not be a member of the counting team.
(b) Each duplicate ballot prepared pursuant to s. 101.5614(5) or s. 102.141(7) shall be compared with the original ballot to ensure the correctness of the duplicate.
(c) If a counting team is unable to determine whether the ballot contains a clear indication that the voter has made a definite choice, the ballot shall be presented to the county canvassing board for a determination.
(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. The rules shall address, at a minimum, the following areas:
1. Security of ballots during the recount process;
2. Time and place of recounts;
3. Public observance of recounts;
4. Objections to ballot determinations;
5. Record of recount proceedings; and
6. Procedures relating to candidate and petitioner representatives.