The primary election is over and the races have been decided, but the work isn't complete. At the Bay County Supervisor of Elections office, the day after the vote is almost as busy as election day itself.
Before the final vote totals are considered official, the elections office and canvassing board must review activity from all 44 of the county's polling stations. It's standard procedure whenever there's an election.
"Everything that had anything to do with the vote is being checked, double checked, audited and verified," said elections supervisor Mark Andersen. "We're making sure that we've got it all recorded… what happened [and] how it happened so we can go back and figure out if there is an issue or concern."
Watching over the process are the three members of the canvassing board: Bay County Judge Tim Campbell, Bay District School Board member Steve Moss and local pastor Henry Hazard. "Confidence in the voting system is confidence for the people that the system is working in our democratic society... that the person elected is truly the one that the people have chosen," said Campbell.
On Tuesday, 44 voters cast provisional ballots. Andersen said provisional votes include those cast by citizens who fail to present valid identification or whose address doesn't match the one on file with the supervisor's office. Those ballots are individually sealed in pink envelopes for later review. "If they're not registered or there's something else that doesn't match and allow us to make them an eligible voter, then that provisional envelope would remain sealed," he said.
The elections office staff reviews provisional ballots and recommends appropriate action to the canvassing board. Each board member then votes on whether the ballot gets counted. "If there's a close decision, the rules say that we err on the side of counting the vote," said Campbell.
Andersen said the primary election is good practice for the November general election. "We're going to have to look to the future," he said. "We want everyone to get educated on where to go and vote, where their new polling place is... those are the issues that are most important going forward."
Election officials don't anticipate any problems validating the votes. Andersen said election results are expected to be declared official late Thursday evening.
"The process works and the system that we have, especially here in Bay County, is very good," said Campbell. "It works very well and everything runs pretty smoothly."