Florida Senate - 2020                                    SB 1312
       By Senator Montford
       3-01197A-20                                           20201312__
    1                        A bill to be entitled                      
    2         An act relating to voting systems; amending s. 97.021,
    3         F.S.; defining the term “automatic tabulating
    4         equipment” for purposes of the Florida Election Code;
    5         amending s. 101.5614, F.S.; revising procedures
    6         governing the canvassing of returns to specify usage
    7         of a voting system’s automatic tabulating equipment;
    8         amending s. 102.141, F.S.; clarifying the
    9         circumstances under which ballots must be processed
   10         through automatic tabulating equipment in a recount;
   11         amending s. 102.166, F.S.; specifying the manner by
   12         which a manual recount may be conducted; revising
   13         requirements for hardware or software used in a manual
   14         recount; authorizing overvotes and undervotes to be
   15         identified and sorted physically or digitally in a
   16         manual recount; revising minimum requirements for
   17         Department of State rules to require procedures
   18         regarding the certification and use of automatic
   19         tabulating equipment for manual recounts; providing an
   20         effective date.
   22  Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
   24         Section 1. Present subsections (5) through (46) of section
   25  97.021, Florida Statutes, are renumbered as subsections (6)
   26  through (47), respectively, and a new subsection (5) is added to
   27  that section, to read:
   28         97.021 Definitions.—For the purposes of this code, except
   29  where the context clearly indicates otherwise, the term:
   30         (5) “Automatic tabulating equipment” means an apparatus
   31  that automatically examines, counts, and records votes.
   32         Section 2. Paragraph (a) of subsection (4) and subsections
   33  (6) and (7) of section 101.5614, Florida Statutes, are amended
   34  to read:
   35         101.5614 Canvass of returns.—
   36         (4)(a) If any vote-by-mail ballot is physically damaged so
   37  that it cannot properly be counted by the voting system’s
   38  automatic tabulating equipment, a true duplicate copy shall be
   39  made of the damaged ballot in the presence of witnesses and
   40  substituted for the damaged ballot. Likewise, a duplicate ballot
   41  shall be made of a vote-by-mail ballot containing an overvoted
   42  race or a marked vote-by-mail ballot in which every race is
   43  undervoted which shall include all valid votes as determined by
   44  the canvassing board based on rules adopted by the division
   45  pursuant to s. 102.166(4). Upon request, a physically present
   46  candidate, a political party official, a political committee
   47  official, or an authorized designee thereof, must be allowed to
   48  observe the duplication of ballots. All duplicate ballots shall
   49  be clearly labeled “duplicate,” bear a serial number which shall
   50  be recorded on the defective ballot, and be counted in lieu of
   51  the defective ballot. After a ballot has been duplicated, the
   52  defective ballot shall be placed in an envelope provided for
   53  that purpose, and the duplicate ballot shall be tallied with the
   54  other ballots for that precinct.
   55         (6) Vote-by-mail ballots may be counted by the voting
   56  system’s automatic tabulating equipment if they have been marked
   57  in a manner which will enable them to be properly counted by
   58  such equipment.
   59         (7) The return printed by the voting system’s automatic
   60  tabulating equipment, to which has been added the return of
   61  write-in, vote-by-mail, and manually counted votes and votes
   62  from provisional ballots, shall constitute the official return
   63  of the election upon certification by the canvassing board. Upon
   64  completion of the count, the returns shall be open to the
   65  public. A copy of the returns may be posted at the central
   66  counting place or at the office of the supervisor of elections
   67  in lieu of the posting of returns at individual precincts.
   68         Section 3. Paragraph (a) of subsection (7) of section
   69  102.141, Florida Statutes, is amended to read:
   70         102.141 County canvassing board; duties.—
   71         (7) If the unofficial returns reflect that a candidate for
   72  any office was defeated or eliminated by one-half of a percent
   73  or less of the votes cast for such office, that a candidate for
   74  retention to a judicial office was retained or not retained by
   75  one-half of a percent or less of the votes cast on the question
   76  of retention, or that a measure appearing on the ballot was
   77  approved or rejected by one-half of a percent or less of the
   78  votes cast on such measure, a recount shall be ordered of the
   79  votes cast with respect to such office or measure. The Secretary
   80  of State is responsible for ordering recounts in federal, state,
   81  and multicounty races. The county canvassing board or the local
   82  board responsible for certifying the election is responsible for
   83  ordering recounts in all other races. A recount need not be
   84  ordered with respect to the returns for any office, however, if
   85  the candidate or candidates defeated or eliminated from
   86  contention for such office by one-half of a percent or less of
   87  the votes cast for such office request in writing that a recount
   88  not be made.
   89         (a) Each canvassing board responsible for conducting a
   90  recount shall put each marksense ballot through automatic
   91  tabulating equipment and determine whether the returns correctly
   92  reflect the votes cast. If any marksense ballot is physically
   93  damaged so that it cannot be properly counted by the automatic
   94  tabulating equipment during the recount, a true duplicate shall
   95  be made of the damaged ballot pursuant to the procedures in s.
   96  101.5614(4). Immediately before the start of the recount, a test
   97  of the tabulating equipment shall be conducted as provided in s.
   98  101.5612. If the test indicates no error, the recount tabulation
   99  of the ballots cast shall be presumed correct and such votes
  100  shall be canvassed accordingly. If an error is detected, the
  101  cause therefor shall be ascertained and corrected and the
  102  recount repeated, as necessary. The canvassing board shall
  103  immediately report the error, along with the cause of the error
  104  and the corrective measures being taken, to the Department of
  105  State. No later than 11 days after the election, the canvassing
  106  board shall file a separate incident report with the Department
  107  of State, detailing the resolution of the matter and identifying
  108  any measures that will avoid a future recurrence of the error.
  109  If the automatic tabulating equipment used in a recount is not
  110  part of the voting system and the ballots have already been
  111  processed through such equipment, the canvassing board is not
  112  required to put each ballot through any automatic tabulating
  113  equipment again.
  114         Section 4. Subsections (1), (2), and (5) of section
  115  102.166, Florida Statutes, are amended to read:
  116         102.166 Manual recounts of overvotes and undervotes.—
  117         (1) If the second set of unofficial returns pursuant to s.
  118  102.141 indicates that a candidate for any office was defeated
  119  or eliminated by one-quarter of a percent or less of the votes
  120  cast for such office, that a candidate for retention to a
  121  judicial office was retained or not retained by one-quarter of a
  122  percent or less of the votes cast on the question of retention,
  123  or that a measure appearing on the ballot was approved or
  124  rejected by one-quarter of a percent or less of the votes cast
  125  on such measure, a manual recount of the overvotes and
  126  undervotes cast in the entire geographic jurisdiction of such
  127  office or ballot measure shall be ordered unless:
  128         (a) The candidate or candidates defeated or eliminated from
  129  contention by one-quarter of 1 percent or fewer of the votes
  130  cast for such office request in writing that a recount not be
  131  made; or
  132         (b) The number of overvotes and undervotes is fewer than
  133  the number of votes needed to change the outcome of the
  134  election.
  136  The Secretary of State is responsible for ordering a manual
  137  recount for federal, state, and multicounty races. The county
  138  canvassing board or local board responsible for certifying the
  139  election is responsible for ordering a manual recount for all
  140  other races. A manual recount consists of a recount of marksense
  141  ballots or of digital images of those ballots by a person.
  142         (2) Any hardware or software used to identify and sort
  143  overvotes and undervotes for a given race or ballot measure must
  144  be certified by the Department of State as part of the voting
  145  system pursuant to s. 101.015. Any such hardware or software
  146  must be capable of simultaneously identifying and sorting
  147  overvotes and undervotes in multiple races while simultaneously
  148  counting votes. Overvotes and undervotes must be identified and
  149  sorted while recounting ballots pursuant to s. 102.141.
  150  Overvotes and undervotes may be identified and sorted physically
  151  or digitally.
  152         (5) Procedures for a manual recount are as follows:
  153         (a) The county canvassing board shall appoint as many
  154  counting teams of at least two electors as is necessary to
  155  manually recount the ballots. A counting team must have, when
  156  possible, members of at least two political parties. A candidate
  157  involved in the race shall not be a member of the counting team.
  158         (b) Each duplicate ballot prepared pursuant to s.
  159  101.5614(4) or s. 102.141(7) shall be compared with the original
  160  ballot to ensure the correctness of the duplicate.
  161         (c) If a counting team is unable to determine whether the
  162  ballot contains a clear indication that the voter has made a
  163  definite choice, the ballot shall be presented to the county
  164  canvassing board for a determination.
  165         (d) The Department of State shall adopt detailed rules
  166  prescribing additional recount procedures for each certified
  167  voting system which shall be uniform to the extent practicable.
  168  The rules shall address, at a minimum, the following areas:
  169         1. Security of ballots during the recount process;
  170         2. Time and place of recounts;
  171         3. Public observance of recounts;
  172         4. Objections to ballot determinations;
  173         5. Record of recount proceedings; and
  174         6. Procedures relating to candidate and petitioner
  175  representatives; and
  176         7. Procedures relating to the certification and the use of
  177  automatic tabulating equipment that is not part of a voting
  178  system.
  179         Section 5. This act shall take effect upon becoming a law.