With a noon Sunday deadline fast approaching in Florida’s hand recount in the U.S. Senate race, time and hope are quickly fading for incumbent Bill Nelson, who has held the seat for nearly the past 18 years.
Hand recounts of ballots containing “overvotes” and “undervotes” in the Democratic bastions of Miami-Dade and Broward counties, failed to produce significant gains that Nelson needed if he is to have any hope of overtaking Gov. Rick Scott.
The 10,000 ballots that were reviewed by Miami-Dade’s three-person canvassing board yielded 348 new votes for Nelson and 167 for Scott. A pickup of just 181 votes for Nelson.
Numbers out of Broward weren’t much better for the Democrat. Out of 31,000 ballots examined, just 500 of those ballots were added to those counted in the Senate contest, with Nelson picking up about 300 additional votes.
The problem for Nelson is he needs more than 12,000 votes if he is to overtake Scott.
“According to Bill Nelson’s D.C. lawyer, a hand recount of Broward County votes would miraculously result in thousands of new Bill Nelson voters,” Scott spokesman Chris Hartline said in a statement released late Friday. “Now we know that’s not the case. The numbers are in and the votes have been counted. Rick Scott was elected to the U.S. Senate by a close but decisive margin. It’s time for Bill Nelson to finally accept reality and allow the state of Florida to move forward.”
As of Saturday morning, almost all the overvotes and undervotes have been recounted across the state, including in Orange, Miami-Dade, Alachua, Palm Beach and Broward Counties.
The Scott campaign was busy peddling a quote from an unnamed Democratic official who was quoted in a report published by Politico.
“Sen. Bill Nelson has run out of time, run out of favorable court rulings and is about to officially run out of votes.
‘It’s done. But it was done before today. This was a total Hail Mary,’ said a top Democrat involved in Nelson’s campaign who didn’t want to speak publicly before the Democratic Party icon conceded defeat to one of the party’s most-hated rivals.”
On Thursday, 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.
In the Senate contest, the machine recount showed Scott leading Democrat Nelson by 12,603 votes, a margin of 0.15 percentage points.
Detzner has set a deadline of noon on Sunday for local election officials to submit the results from the hand recount.
The state is scheduled to certify the election results Tuesday at 9 a.m.