The U.S. Senate race in Florida heads to a hand recount

by | Nov 15, 2018

Six days after they began, the machine recounts are complete in three statewide races and two of them will now move into manual recounts.

Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner has 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 state 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 vote lead, maintaining a 0.15 percent advantage over Sen. Bill Nelson. Scott continues to insist he’s the clear winner and Nelson is tarnishing his public service career by refusing to accept the results.

“Last week, Florida voters elected me as their next U.S. Senator and now the ballots have been counted twice,” Scott said in a statement. “I am incredibly proud and humbled by the opportunity to serve Florida in Washington. 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.”

At first it appeared only Palm Beach County did not meet Thursday’s deadline for submitting machine recount totals. State law requires that any county that fails to meet the deadline must submit their original vote totals to the state.

Election supervisor Susan Bucher, who took responsibility for not meeting the deadline, said 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 earlier in the day 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.”   

It turns out Broward County also missed the deadline. Although Broward finished with 15 minutes to spare, the county didn’t submit them until 3:02 p.m., two minutes  past the deadline.

Walker has found himself in the center of the legal battles surrounding Florida’s election recounts. He started the day by ordering that Florida voters whose mail-in and provisional ballots were rejected because of discrepancies in voter signatures, be given until 5 p.m. Saturday to “cure” or fix the discrepancy.

That order was fought for by Nelson’s campaign and could add 5,000 votes to the state totals, however Nelson is trailingScott by 13,000.

“We are immediately appealing this baseless decision and we are confident we will prevail in the Eleventh Circuit,” said Lauren Schenone, the press secretary for the Scott campaign



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