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Florida Voters Have Until 5 P.M. To Get Their Provisional Ballots Counted

If you voted provisionally on Election Day, you have until 5 p.m. today to prove you were eligible to vote and have your vote counted.

Provisional votes can be somewhat described as "purgatory votes" -- votes cast by people who were not immediately able to prove their eligibility to vote. Until the voter submits proof that they are eligible to vote where they did, the votes do not count.

In typical Florida fashion, these provisional ballots could determine the outcome of at least one statewide race -- Democrat Nikki Fried is trailing Republican Matt Caldwell for Agriculture Commissioner by only about 4,000 votes. Other statewide races like the ones for the Governor's office and U.S. Senate are split with tiny margins, and the outstanding provisional ballots could potentially make them close enough for a mandatory manual recount. 

The number of provisional ballots cast in 2014 was 12,593, out of which 7,199 were counted. In 2016, 24,460 provisional ballots were cast, out of which 10,998 were counted, according to the Secretary of State's Office.

Again, anyone who voted with a provisional ballot has until 5 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 8 to provide proof that their vote should count.

Voters can fax, send a personal email or show up in person to their county Supervisor of Elections Office with relevant documents, in order to verify their identity and eligibility to vote.

Here is who to reach out to in South Florida, in order to make sure that your provisional ballot is counted:

- Miami-Dade Supervisor of Elections Office: 2700 NW 87th Ave, Miami FL, 33152; tel: 305-499-8683; fax: (305)499-8501; soedade@miamidade.gov 

- Broward County Supervisor of Elections Office: 115 S. Andrews Avenue, Room 102, Fort Lauderdale, FL; tel: 954-357-7050; fax: 954-357-7070; Elections@browardsoe.org

- Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Office: 240 South Military Trail, West Palm Beach, FL; tel: 561-656-6200; fax: 561-656-6287; susanbucher@pbcelections.org

- Monroe County Supervisor of Elections Office: 530 Whitehead Street #101, Key West, FL; tel: 305-292-3416; info@keyselections.org

Marc Elias, a lawyer representing Senator Bill Nelson’s campaign for the U.S. Senate race, told reporters in a Thursday press conference that the results of the Senate race should be treated as “unknown.”

Sen. Nelson trailed by less than 22,000 votes as of Thursday morning. The difference is near 0.25 percent, which would trigger a machine recount. Elias says he expects that percentage to drop by the end of the day, resulting in a manual recount.

According to Elias, a significant number of ballots haven’t been counted – particularly in South Florida.

In Palm Beach County, about more than 5,000 ballots will be reviewed, according to the Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections office. Initially, Elias said the county had to count more than 10,000 ballots as part of the canvassing process, which began Wednesday.

Elias also said there’s an unusual “under vote” pattern in Broward County. Under voting is when more votes are cast for one officer than another. In Broward, more votes were cast for down-ballot races, like attorney general, than the Senate race, which was found at the very top of the ticket.

“That’s something they ought to be looking at,” Elias added. "That frankly isn’t possible.”

Broward Supervisor of Elections Brenda Snipes told WLRN Thursday she’s unsure how many votes are left to count. The canvassing board spent the day examining and counting absentee and vote-by-mail ballots. Workers brought in the last three carts of those ballots at 1 p.m.

Supervisor of Elections Brenda Snipes says the counting process is taking so long for two reasons: a long ballot and the volume of voters. More than 600,000 people cast votes in this week's election.

Out of more than 600 provisional ballots in Broward, the elections office has accepted 205.

Eva D'achiardi drove from Southwest Broward to check that her mail-in ballot had been verified. Elections officials confirmed it was counted - but she was still frustrated.

“I called all morning long and I couldn’t get through,” she said. “So, then I drove here, which is like a 45-minute drive, to make sure I got an answer. It should not be this guessing game.”

On a conference call on Thursday morning, Secretary of State Ken Detzner told county supervisors of elections to prepare for recounts of several statewide elections, noting the races are "under the microscope."

Daniel Rivero is part of WLRN's new investigative reporting team. Before joining WLRN, he was an investigative reporter and producer on the television series "The Naked Truth," and a digital reporter for Fusion. He can be reached at drivero@wlrnnews.org
Alexander Gonzalez produces the afternoon newscasts airing during All Things Considered. He enjoys helping tell the South Florida story through audio and digital platforms. Alex is interested in a little of everything from business to culture to politics.
Caitie Muñoz, formerly Switalski, leads the WLRN Newsroom as Director of Daily News & Original Live Programming. Previously she reported on news and stories concerning quality of life in Broward County and its municipalities for WLRN News.
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