MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. — If officials deem some of the crucial statewide races must proceed to a manual recount, it will be up to election officials to look at undervotes and overvotes to determine what a voter intended to mark when filling out their ballot.

But just what are "undervotes" and "overvotes"?

  • All unofficial results of machine recounts due by 3 p.m. Thursday
  • Manual recount will proceed for races separated by .25 percent or less
  • In manual recount, elections officials try to determine "voter intent"
  • More Decision 2018 stories 

All unofficial results of machine recounts are due by 3 p.m. on Thursday. From there, if the margin of a race falls within 1/4th of a percentage point, a manual recount will be ordered.

In a manual recount, all ballots that were flagged as "overvotes" or "undervotes" during the machine recount will be processed by election officials by hand. 

“We want to pull aside all of those where there might be some question,” explained Michael Bennett, Manatee County Supervisor of Elections.


Undervote sample

Undervotes, Bennett says, are more simple to process. If a voter leaves a race blank, election officials can deem that the voter did not intend to vote in that particular race. 

Overvotes, however, can be more complicated. 

Overvote sample

If a voter selects more than one candidate in a race, teams of election officials will have to decide who that voter intended to vote for. 

Delegates from each political party or candidate can view the process closely. 

“They can say, 'can I look at that?' They may enter into the debate and we will certainly listen to them,” Bennett said. 

The machines, Bennett says, are very sensitive and will pick up even the smallest pen mark.

Ballots with rips or tears also don't make it through the machine. Those will be duplicated, and the original one destroyed, so the votes can be processed in the manual recount. 


Ripped ballot sample