The Canvassing Board is a group of local elected officials who oversee important parts othe election. This ensures that critical decisions about the election are made by a group rather than by a single person. The board is composed of the supervisor of elections, a county judge, acting as chair, and the chair of the board of county commissioners. If a member of the Canvassing Board is unable to fulfill his/her duties, designated alternatives act as replacements.
The Canvassing Board is its own governing body. It is separate from either the Supervisor of Elections Office or the Board of County Commissioners.
Members cannot serve on the Board for an election if they are a candidate who has opposition in the election being canvassed or are an active participant in a campaign. If this happens, a substitute member replaces them for that election.
The Lake County Supervisor of Elections Office supplies administrative and clerical support to the Canvassing Board.
What Does the Canvassing Board Do?
The Canvassing Board has many responsibilities:
Certifies Logic and Accuracy testing on voting equipment. The Logic and Accuracy process is a public test of the voting and audit machines used to count ballots. The test ensures that voting equipment is working correctly.
Reviews and accepts signatures on Vote-by-Mail ballot envelopes. The Board reviews signatures on Vote-by-Mail ballot envelopes to confirm that the signature on the envelope matches the signature in the voter registration system. Once the review is complete, election workers open the envelopes and use the voting equipment to count the votes on the ballots.
Reviews damaged and poorly marked ballots. Sometimes ballots get damaged in the mail, or voters mark their ballots in a way that the voting equipment cannot determine the intent of the voter. The Board oversees re-creating these ballots so that every vote is counted.
Reviews provisional ballots. The provisional ballot is a back-up voting option used if a voter’s eligibility to vote is uncertain. After Election Day, the Board reviews each provisional ballot envelope and related documentation and decides if it should be opened and counted.
Certifies results of the election. The Board releases several sets of results over the course of the election. Preliminary results are released on election night, but the results will not be complete for several days. The Board uses this time to review provisional ballots, count ballots from military and overseas voters, and conduct a recount, if required. The final set of results is the official version which includes all valid votes in the county.
Conducts recounts. A recount does not mean that there was a problem or suspected fraud in an election. Instead, Florida law automatically requires that we hold a recount whenever the election results are very close. There are two types of recounts: a machine recount and a manual recount.
Machine Recount. If the unofficial results show that a race was decided by ½% or less, the Board oversees a recount of the ballots by machine. However, here in Lake County we recount every race, on every ballot, in every election to always verify the accuracy of the machine count.
Manual Recount. If the results of the machine recount show that that a race was decided by ¼% or less, the Board moves on to a manual recount. In the manual recount, the Board reviews all the ballots where the voting machines found either no votes or too many votes in a race. This makes certain that we count even poorly marked votes and that nothing has been missed.
The outcome of the recount is part of the official election results. The recount process ensures that during a close election everyone can be confident that their vote was counted properly, and the results are accurate. Recounts are open to the public.
When Does the Canvassing Board Meet?
At the beginning of each election cycle, the Canvassing Board holds an organizational meeting. This takes place early in each even-numbered year. Then, during each election, the Board holds a series of meetings before, on, and after each Election Day.
Members of the public, representatives for candidates or political parties, and members of the media are welcome to observe these activities.
To learn more, review FS 102.141 (1) (a) (b) (c) (d) (e) 1, 2, 3, 4 and FS 102.141.