Two decades ago, Florida was a national laughingstock after 36 days of recounts and litigation springing from the 2000 presidential election, which hung on results in the Sunshine State.
Today, Florida is a national model, according to the Public Interest Legal Foundation, an election watchdog group.
In November, Florida managed to call the federal and statewide contests on election night Nov. 8 in all 67 counties, including the governor’s race, a U.S. Senate race, and 28 U.S. House races.
By comparison, nationally, 172 races in 34 states were called on Nov. 9 or later. Because of this, The Associated Press didn’t declare with certainty that Republicans had flipped control of the House until Nov. 16.
The final race to be called was Dec. 13 in Colorado, in the state’s 3rd Congressional District. California had the most late calls, with 51 separate elections decided after Election Day.
“After the debacle of 2000, Florida has transformed its election system to one of the best in the country,” J. Christian Adams, president of the Public Interest Legal Foundation, said in a public statement.
The legal foundation’s report on Florida elections is titled “Worst to First.” It credits Florida with adopting a preelection audit of equipment to avoid Election Day mishaps. The state verifies absentee ballots through ID numbers, such as for a driver’s license or a Social Security account.
Florida also requires absentee ballots must arrive by Election Day, compared to 18 states and the District of Columbia, all of which accept mail-in ballots that arrive after Election Day–in some cases up to two weeks afterward.
Florida does early canvassing of absentee ballots with observers to ensure that counting is done correctly, and also imposes criminal penalties for releasing information related on the early canvass count, the report says.
“Americans deserve to go to bed on election night knowing who won,” Adams said. “The month’s-long wait for election results leads to uncertainty and distrust in our election process. States must implement these crucial policies, such as requiring mail ballots to arrive by Election Day, to restore the ‘day’ in Election Day.”
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