The race for the U.S. Senate in Florida isn’t over just yet. Sen. Bill Nelson announced Wednesday morning he is seeking a recount.
His request for a recount comes after vote totals overnight show just 34,435 votes separated him from Gov. Rick Scott, a difference of 0.42 percentage points. State law requires a recount when candidates are with one-half point.
“We are proceeding to a recount,” Sen. Nelson Wednesday morning in a brief statement.
Unofficial results show Nelson trailing Scott by a little more than just 34,500 votes out of a total of 8.1 million ballots cast. That’s less than a one-half percentage point difference.
Nelson’s campaign sent out a news release announcing the call for a recount.
“The tally in the race continued closing into the predawn hours today and inched close enough to trigger a recount at about 3:15 a.m.,” the release said. “As of now, Scott’s lead is just 0.4 percent, or 34,537 votes.”
The Scott campaign was quick to fire back with a statement critical of Nelson for not accepting the voting results.
“This race is over. It’s a sad way for Bill Nelson to end his career. He is desperately trying to hold on to something that no longer exists,” said Chris Hartline, a Scott campaign spokesman.
State law allows for a machine recount of the results if the two candidates are separated by one-half of a percentage point or less. But a recount is not automatic. Only Secretary of State Ken Detzner can call for a recount. Detzner is a Scott appointment.
If a machine recount is approved and that recount ends with the two candidates separated by one-quarter of a percentage point or less, then a more time-consuming manual recount of ballots would take place.
If the recount request is granted, the next step in the process is for the 67 county supervisors of election to recheck the total tally. The deadline is noon Saturday.
“We expect the supervisors, regardless of their party affiliation, will discharge their constitutional duties,” said Marc Elias, an election lawyer representing the Nelson campaign.