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As Florida recounts loom, one county's results reveal questionable voting patterns

Stephen Hobbs, Sun Sentinel on

Published in News & Features

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Broward County had unusual vote discrepancies for the state's most high-profile races, raising new questions as officials on Thursday continued to count votes amid the possibility of multiple recounts, a South Florida Sun Sentinel analysis of voting patterns reveals.

Of the Broward ballots already counted, more than 24,700 people voted for a governor candidate but didn't vote for a candidate for U.S. Senate, according to county results. The Sun Sentinel found similar discrepancies in other statewide races, where the vote tallies suggest that thousands of voters made the unlikely choice to vote on lower-profile races and bypass the Senate race -- a marquee race and the first one on the ballot.

This unusual pattern appears in no other Florida county.

In other Florida counties, the tallies reflect patterns that would be expected, with more voters weighing in on the Senate race than in statewide races of lesser stature.

Not so in Broward, where current vote tallies show that thousands more voters cast ballots for the chief financial officer, agriculture commissioner and attorney general races in the county than they did for the Senate race.

In the state's other large counties, like Miami-Dade, Palm Beach and Orange, it was the opposite: Thousands of voters cast ballots for a Senate candidate and not those statewide positions.

As of Thursday afternoon, more than 15,300 people in Broward voted for a Florida attorney general candidate but didn't vote for a Senate candidate. The next closest was Levy County, with 21.

In the agriculture commissioner race, more than 10,200 people in Broward voted for candidates in that race than for the Senate. Broward was one of only two counties where that discrepancy happened. Union County was the other.

In the chief financial officer race, Broward was all alone among Florida's counties, as more than 9,800 people in the county voted for the candidates running for that position than the Senate.

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Since the Sun Sentinel first published the governor and senate discrepancy Wednesday, readers have raised concerns about the ballot's design, saying they almost missed voting for a Senate candidate based on where it was on the ballot.

Of the Broward ballots counted as of Thursday afternoon, more than 701,000 people voted for governor in Broward in Tuesday's election, while more than 676,700 voters cast ballots for Senate, preliminary county election results show.

Gillum received more than 10,300 votes than Nelson, while DeSantis also received more than 10,600 votes than Scott.

There is a caveat: The state data released Thursday did not include votes for write-in candidates for Senate. In the largest counties, that could affect the differences by as many as 2,000 total votes.

(c)2018 Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)

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