The vote counting situation in Florida's Palm Beach County is going from bad to worse.
As Democratic attorneys push to allow Florida counties "as much time as they need" to finish a machine recount that threatens to switch the outcomes for the state's gubernatorial and senate races from the Republican to the Democratic column (a recount is also being held for the state's Agricultural Commissioner position), ballot counting machines in problem-plagued Palm Beach have broken down, forcing the county to restart its recount of 175,000 ballots, according to the Miami Herald.
This latest setback means the county likely won't meet a Thursday afternoon deadline to finish the recount, and its election officials, including Elections Supervisor Susan Bucher, are scrambling to request more time after losing a whole day's worth of work. Bucher has insisted that employees are working "24-7" to ensure that the ballots are counted accurately. Even before the breakdown of the machines, Bucher had maintained that she didn't think the county could meet the Thursday deadline, though she had struggled to find an excuse to justify an extension. Yet, as fate would have it, one has apparently arrived.
The department has flown in mechanics to repair the machines.
"We’re disappointed by the mechanical problems that are going to cause a further delay in the recount," Bucher told reporters. "It became evident through the vigorous pace of counting that the machines used for the recount were starting to get stressed."
The malfunctions resulted in the loss of more than a day’s work.
Bucher said on Monday that her office wouldn’t be able to meet the 3 p.m. Thursday deadline imposed by the state. On Saturday, state election officials said Florida’s 67 counties had to recount the more than 8 million ballots cast statewide because the results in three major elections — U.S. Senate, governor and agriculture commissioner — were under the 0.5 percentage point threshold that triggers the mandatory recount, according to state law.
However, in what could be a setback for Democrats hoping to take the vote by "any means necessary," lawyers representing Florida's secretary of state successfully moved a case demanding a deadline extension to federal court before a Florida district court judge could issue a five-day extension.
If the recount totals aren't submitted by the deadline, the county will have no choice but to submit its original vote totals, meaning that any Democratic gains from the reams of "mystery" ballots that suddenly appeared out of nowhere out of election day.