Sorey said she found the box about 3 p.m. Thursday, in the same area where voting had been held, and knew not to meddle with it.
“I didn’t want to touch it,” Sorey said.
Her discovery came as several statewide races hang in the balance, with elections officials in Broward and Palm Beach counties still counting votes on Thursday.
Seeking help, Sorey phoned her friend, State Rep. Shevrin Jones, D-West Park, a close confidante of gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum.
Jones called the Broward Supervisor of Elections Office, and a woman there told him the box was probably full of blank ballots, he said. If that’s the case, Jones is questioning why the box is locked.
Jones said he was worried the box might contain ballots that are not being counted.
“I was shocked about it,” Jones said. “I don’t think you’d lock up extra ballot paper. I’m hoping someone will at least go verify and make sure there are no ballots inside the box.”
But on Thursday night, a spokesman from the elections office said the box holds supplies — not ballots.
The box is used to hold provisional ballots on Election Day, but when the polls close the ballots are transferred to an orange zippered bag and taken to the elections warehouse in Lauderhill, said Dozel Spencer, director of voting equipment center operations.
Sorey took a photo of the box, a large gray bin with a slot on top and a paper affixed to its side that reads, “Provisional Ballot Box.”
Provisional ballots are those where the voter’s eligibility is in question because, for example, the person lacked the proper identification at the polls. Such voters were given until 5 p.m. Thursday to clear up the issue so the ballot can be counted. In an extremely close race, provisional ballots could make a difference in who wins.
State law requires a recount if the race is closer than 0.5 percent, and it appears a recount may be required for several races, including that of governor, U.S. Senate and state agriculture commissioner.
Staff writer Larry Barszewksi contributed to this report.