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Referendum recount of 228,000 ballots underway in Hillsborough County

There was a less than .5% difference in the vote on a property tax increase.

TAMPA, Fla. — Ballot counting machines were working overtime at the Hillsborough Supervisor of Elections Office in Tampa, where an automatic recount is underway.

It comes after voters narrowly rejected a property tax increase to pay for teacher raises in the Hillsborough school district.

The difference in that election was just .26% and so now they’re counting those ballots again.

After testing its voting machines for accuracy, the Hillsborough Supervisor of Elections office started the process of rescanning early votes, mail-in votes and day-of votes.

“We’re going to rescan 228,800 and some ballots, over the next 18 hours they will be doing this,” Hillsborough Elections Supervisor Craig Latimer said.

The procedure, which is open to public observers, comes after two races in Hillsborough County fell within the half of a percentage point margin needed to trigger an automatic recount.

One recount will determine who enters a runoff in a local race for judge. The other issue is the Hillsborough Schools referendum.

“You can’t request a recount in Florida. You can’t pay for a recount in Florida,”  Latimer said. “It’s in state law exactly what triggers that recount.”

The results of this recount should be known by Sunday morning.

However, if during the re-count process, the ballot margin was to narrow to just .25% it would then trigger a manual recount – a visual inspection of under votes where the machines found no vote has been cast, and over votes where it appears someone may have filled in both bubbles by accident.

There are only about 7,400 of those ballots which would need to be looked at again.

“We are using all of the machines that we have to rescan right now and, of course, plenty of personnel,” Latimer said. “We wanna get this over with too. We know a lot of people are in suspense about what’s going on.”

The Supervisor of Elections Office will continue recounting ballots until about 8 p.m. Friday night, and then resume the process in the morning.

In the end, none of the people we’ve spoken with – from the school board, to observers, even election watchers familiar with the process – expect the outcome rejecting the referendum will be overturned.

The elections office says right now they are aiming to release the result of the recount at 11 a.m. on Sunday, Aug. 28.

And as soon as we have those figures, look for an update here at 10TamapBay.com.

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