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How Florida counts votes so fast compared to other states

Once considered a laughingstock, Florida has become a model example for holding elections
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Posted at 5:13 PM, Nov 11, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-11 20:05:28-05

Three days have passed since the polls closed, and the balance of power in the next Congress is still unknown.

While several states, including Arizona, Nevada and California, are still counting ballots, Florida mostly finished its voting on election night.

How did a state that was once considered a national laughingstock for its handling of the 2000 Presidential election between Al Gore and George W. Bush become a national example for efficient elections?

Florida Gulf Coast University Political Science Professor Dr. Peter Bergerson says state leaders made changes to how the state handles election season.

“They put in some additional guidelines, more money for better machines, more professionalized training,” Bergerson said.

That includes passing legislation that allows local counties to start counting mail-in ballots 22 days before election day.

State law also requires early voting ballots, in most instances, to be completely counted on the day before election day.

Results from early voting must also be posted within 30 minutes of the polls closing.

Voting by mail is possibly the largest difference between Florida and other states.

In Florida, a mail-in ballot has to be received by 7:00 p.m. on election day.

Meanwhile, Nevada law calls for the mail-in ballots to be postmarked by election day. Those ballots can be received up until the Saturday after election day.

“Different states have different rules for the hours of voting, for how they're tabulated, how the results are released. And so, it is really a broad mix of different types of elections and different states,” said Stephen Ohlemacher, the AP Election Decision Editor.

Emma Steiner, who studies disinformation for the voting advocacy group Common Cause, says while there is nothing nefarious going on with the vote counts in other states, as the count drags on, it gives bad actors ammo to pounce.

“We’ve seen and will continue to see bad actors and disinformation spreaders push the narrative that only election night results are valid and that counting ballots after election day is an indicator of widespread fraud,” said Steiner.

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