A couple of days after the Tuesday’s midterm election and talk continues about recounts in at least two statewide races and possibly a third. The contest that most likely hinges on a recount is the race for state agriculture commissioner.
State law triggers an automatic machine recount if the margin of victory in a race is 0.5 percent, while a difference of 0.25 percent triggers a manual recount.
In the agriculture commissioner’s contest, as of Thursday morning, out of more than 8 million votes cast, just over 4,000 votes, or 0.06 percent, separate Republican Matt Caldwell and Democrat Nikki Fried. Fried said Wednesday in a written statement that she intends to pursue a recount.
“This is the closest race since we’ve seen here in Florida since Bush v. Gore in 2000—we’re heading into a recount,” Fried said in the statement. “We are going to ensure that every vote is counted, in a race this close, everyones’ voices must be heard so the will of the people is upheld.”
The other race that could result in a recount is the U.S. Senate contest between Gov. Rick Scott and incumbent Bill Nelson. Scott claimed victory Tuesday evening, but Nelson said Wednesday morning he will pursue a recount.
“We are proceeding to a recount,” Sen. Nelson said in a brief statement.
The margin of difference in the U.S. Senate race Thursday morning was less than 22,000 votes out of more than 8 million votes cast, a difference of 0.26 percent.
“We’re doing this not just because it’s automatic, but we’re doing it to win,” said Marc Elias, a lawyer representing Nelson’s campaign and who has scheduled a conference call with reporters later Thursday morning.
“A significant number of ballots have not yet been counted and, because of the size of Florida, we believe the results of the election are unknown and require a recount,” the veteran election law attorney said.
There has been speculation that the final vote totals could also trigger a machine recount in the governor’s race between Republican Ron DeSantis and Democrat Andrew Gillum. Currently, DeSantis’ lead is just outside the margin for triggering a recount, although that margin has tightened. As of Thursday morning, DeSantis’ lead was just under 43,000 of more than 8 million ballots cast. That’s a difference of 0.52 percent, which is 0.02 percent above the mark that would trigger a recount.
Why the changing numbers in these races? Broward County, the Democratic stronghold where mail-in ballots were still being counted through Wednesday evening. No one seemed to know how many of those ballots remained to be counted.
“I can’t give you an exact number. I’m not sure. I’m really not sure,” Broward Elections Supervisor Brenda Snipes told the Sun-Sentinel
Of the three races, the agriculture commissioner’s race, with its narrow vote margin, could be the contest that could most likely be affected by a recount. The Senate contest may trigger a recount, but can 22,000 votes be found to alter its outcome.
The governor’s race still remains outside the vote margin to require a recount, and finding 43,000 votes to change the outcome of that race would be difficult.