Press reports say that Broward County is still "counting ballots", I assume they really mean that the optical scanning machines are still reading the ballots and tabulating the votes for each candidate and issue.

I further assume that these optical scanners are located at one central location, and that election board employees are feeding the scanners. (unlike at my precinct in Ohio where there are scanners at each polling place and the voter actually feeds his/her ballot into the scanner).

I see that the Broward County ballot is actually 5 pieces of paper, (10 pages of ballot) and I surmise that all ballots in the county are not the same (may be some very local issues (sub-county level voting). So it may be necessary to group ballots by precinct when counting votes.

So is the problem largely a deficiency in the number of scanning devices? Or is there some other mechanical problem?

1 Answer 1


The Sun Sentinel in Florida says

Why was the vote counting going so slowly? When counting resumed Thursday, tens of thousands of ballots remained to be processed, long after other counties had everything counted and results reported to the state. Broward elections chief Snipes blamed the volume of mail-in ballots, many of which were received just before the 7 p.m. deadline on Tuesday.

The article also has some pictures to give a sense of scale of what they are dealing with, and how many people are working to count votes:

9 or so people working on 6 or so voting machines, so many boxes of votes

boxes and boxes of votes

Note that mail in ballots have to be checked for legitimacy by committee:

Supervisor of Elections Dr. Brenda Snipes, center, examines provisional ballots at the Broward County Supervisor of Elections Warehouse

This also takes time.


The article continues, pointing out that "most" of the counting is done as of Friday.

538 points out that there are supposed to be results given by noon today (Nov 10):

Under Florida law, counties have to report unofficial election results to the secretary of state by Saturday at noon, ...

so expect to hear something today (results, or deadline extension).

  • Still leaves lingering questions. Are the in-person ballots tallied at the precinct level? If so, then the only task for the committee is to check that mailed-in ballots are legitimate, then open those ballots and scan those. Scanning should take almost no time, even if there are tens of thousands that have not yet been processed. What may take some time is the voter validation process for mailed in ballots. But there is no real excuse here - see next
    – BobE
    Commented Nov 10, 2018 at 18:13
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    @BobE: Why should scanning take "almost no time"? If each ballot is 10 pages, and scanning takes one second per page (counting loading, clearing paper jams, &c), then scanning 10,000 ballots takes more than a day.
    – jamesqf
    Commented Nov 10, 2018 at 18:38
  • 1
    @jamesqf - Are you assuming that the there is but one scanner? Is that reasonable?
    – BobE
    Commented Nov 10, 2018 at 18:51
  • 1
    @BurnsBA - continuing - I'm inclined to think that the voter verification process is the time consuming segment. Consider that on election day, there are people at the polls that check-in voters - they check that the would be voter is entitled to receive a ballot. They are performing the same function that the "committee" is that are determining the validity of a mailed-in ballot. I'll suggest that cadre of voting day validators may number in the hundreds. Why wouldn't the "committee" use these people to validate mailed-in ballots. They certainly should be qualified.
    – BobE
    Commented Nov 10, 2018 at 19:05
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    @Sjoerd "A 10-day extension exists for overseas voters. The overseas voter’s vote-by-mail ballot must be postmarked or dated by Election Day and received within 10 days of the election in order to be counted" (per Florida Statutes 100.191) [ dos.myflorida.com/elections/for-voters/voting/… ] So, should overseas votes that are due (deadlined) tomorrow be counted? And if those votes are tabulated, should those be included in the totals.
    – BobE
    Commented Nov 15, 2018 at 17:57

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