After machine recounts that concluded Thursday in the races for U.S. Senate and state agriculture commissioner failed to definitively decide the winners in the two contests, local election workers on Friday began the process of conducting hand recounts.
Specifically, those workers will be examining tens-of-thousands of ballots that were rejected by voting machines for “overvotes,” in which it appears a voter may have selected more than one candidate in a race, and “undervotes,” in which it appears a voter might not have voted for any candidate in a particular race.
Miami-Dade County, the state’s largest county, began its manual recount Thursday evening, Broward County started its hand recount early Friday morning. Broward was one the counties that failed to meet Thursday afternoon’s deadline for reporting its machine recount results. Although Broward finished with 15 minutes to spare, the county didn’t submit it’s results until 3:02 p.m., two minutes past the deadline.
There are still more than a half dozen lawsuits regarding the vote counting, including a motion by Sen. Bill Nelson’s legal tea requesting a hand recount of all ballots cast in Palm Beach County. The lawsuit was filed by Nelson’s attorney, Marc Elias, who made the request “due to systematic machine failure during the machine recount.”
Palm Beach County election supervisor Susan Bucher took responsibility for failing to conduct a machine recount, saying the county’s failure was a machine problem and not a lack of effort by her staff. Bucher had said the county didn’t have the equipment to meet the deadline in the first place and then the machines they did have started overheating on Tuesday causing further delays.
U.S. District Judge Mark Walker, who denied a request to extend the machine recount deadline, was critical of Palm Beach County saying Florida has a history of “razor thin” elections, yet county officials put off purchasing enough voting machines to handle a recount.
Walker said Florida had become “the laughing stock of the world election after election and we chose not to fix this.”
Thursday afternoon, Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner ordered hand recounts in the races for U.S. Senate and state agriculture commissioner after machine recounts showed vote margins in both contests were less than 0.25 percent, triggering an automatic manual recount as required by law.
The vote margin in the governor’s race, which was also included in the machine recounts, fell outside of the criteria to require a hand recount. That means Republican Ron DeSantis will be Florida’s next governor after defeating Democrat Andrew Gillum.
In the U.S. Senate race the machine recount shows Gov. Rick Scott with a 12,603 lead, maintaining a 0.15 percent lead over Sen. Bill Nelson.
“Last week, Florida voters elected as their next U.S. Senator and now the ballots have been counted twice,” Scott said in a statement Thursday. “Our state needs to move forward. We need to put this election behind us, and it is time for Bill Nelson to respect the will of the voters and graciously bring this process to an end rather than proceed with yet another count of the votes – which will yield the same result, and bring more embarrassment to the state that we both love and have served.”
Local election officials will have two days to complete the hand recounts. Detzner has set a deadline to submit the results for noon on Sunday.
The state is scheduled to certify the election results Tuesday morniing at 9 a.m.