Florida’s races are notoriously some of the tightest in the country, often times decided by margins of 1 percent or less. The midterms only emphasized this pattern. Governor-elect Ron DeSantis (R) won by exactly 1 percent and two statewide races — U.S. Senator and Agricultural Commision — triggered automatic recounts by falling into margins of .4 percent.
Recounts may leave the results in limbo for a few weeks, but ultimately voters should be glad that automatic recounts are a part of the system. It makes elections more secure and ensures popular faith in our democratic systems.
Florida’s system of recount most famously drew attention during the 2000 Presidential election, when former Vice President Al Gore (D) and former President George Bush (R) triggered the state’s rules for an automatic recount. While the White House may not be at stake this time around, the highly polarized political climate makes some uneasy about the potential for a recount.
The Senate race between incumbent Bill Nelson (D) and outgoing governor Rick Scott (R) is particularly contentious. Nelson’s seat is one that Republicans nationally had been aiming to flip in order to strengthen conservative power in the Senate.
In a state dominated by Republican officials, both elected and appointed, automatic recounts help avoid questions of partisanship and corruption. Republicans stand to gain from the current results; it would leave the state cabinet and Senate seats red. But by making the counting of votes a non-partisan procedure, we ensure that vested interests do not interfere with democratic elections.
Recounts also offer a unique opportunity to count all votes cast in a given election. Normally, mail-in ballots, early votes, and day-of votes are counted. When recounts are triggered, however, provisional and absentee ballots are also counted. It is a special opportunity to get the widest view of what the electorate wants to see in their government.
The downside to the process is clear. Political wins are delayed and the future of a community’s policy is left hanging in the balance. But delaying gratification, in this case, is the difference between listening to the choice of the voters and falsely representing them.
Ultimately, Florida is headed into a few weeks of confusion as we await the final results. But Floridians should celebrate. Free societies are safest when voters know that their voices will be protected and heard. Automatic recounts do exactly that.
Aida Vazquez-Soto is a senior majoring in political science.