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On the second floor of the Volusia County Historic Courthouse Nov. 16, volunteers supervised by representatives of both the Republican and Democratic parties began the tedious process of manually recounting the close races for U.S. Senate and state agriculture commissioner.

Those races were Volusia County’s second and third manual recounts of the week.

A manual recount of the Florida House District 26 race ended in the evening Nov. 15. In that race, Republican Elizabeth Fetterhoff gained 11 votes in the recount for a total of 30,610 votes, expanding her lead over incumbent Democrat Patrick Henry. Henry gained five votes in the recount, for a final tally of 30,549.

In a manual recount, teams of volunteers look at each ballot rejected by tabulating machines as either an undervote or an overvote.

Not all voters fill in the ovals next to their candidates of choice, as they are supposed to. Some, for example, circle the candidate’s name, instead, which the machine tabulator counts as no vote at all — an undervote. The manual-recount volunteers look for ballots where the voter’s intent is clear, and those votes are added to the totals compiled by machines.

Volusia County’s machine recount of the Nov. 6 election results showed 1,772 undervotes and overvotes in the U.S. Senate race, and 7,439 in the agriculture-commissioner race. There were 1,854 in the House District 26 race.

Volusia County joins 66 other counties in Florida in the statewide manual recounts, after a machine recount showed margins of less than a quarter of a percent between incumbent Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson and Republican challenger Rick Scott in the Senate race, and between Republican Matt Caldwell and Democrat Nicole “Nikki” Fried in the agriculture commissioner race, triggering the manual recount.

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