News ID: 234335
Published: 0238 GMT November 16, 2018

Hand recount ordered in Florida’s divisive US Senate race

Hand recount ordered in Florida’s divisive US Senate race
A worker holds ballots before a ballot recount in Lauderhill, Florida, US, on November 12, 2018.

Florida election officials on Thursday ordered a hand recount of ballots in the closely fought US Senate race between Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson and his Republican challenger, Governor Rick Scott, after a machine recount showed them divided by a razor-thin margin.

But in another tight contest, Republican Ron DeSantis appeared to secure the Florida governor’s seat against Democrat Andrew Gillum when the electronic recount showed DeSantis with a 0.41 percentage point lead, outside the threshold to trigger further recount, Reuters reported.

Under state law, the Florida Department of State must trigger a manual recount if an electronic recount of ballots finds a margin of victory less than 0.25 percent.

Gillum, who initially conceded on election night but then reversed course, signaled that he had not yet given up.

“A vote denied is justice denied — the State of Florida must count every legally cast vote,” Gillum said in a statement after the machine recount concluded.

In the Senate race, Nelson trailed Scott by about 12,600 votes, or 0.15 percent of the more than 8 million ballots cast following an electronic recount of ballots in the Nov. 6 election, the state said.

The electronic recount suffered glitches as liberal-leaning Palm Beach County failed to complete the process by Thursday’s deadline due to machine problems. Nelson’s team said it had filed a lawsuit seeking a hand recount of all ballots in the county.

In the next stage of the recount, Florida counties face a deadline of noon ET on Sunday to submit their election results – including a manual recount of undervotes or overvotes, cases where the machine that reviewed the ballot concluded a voter had skipped a contest or marked more than one selection.

If the voter’s intentions are clear on review by a person, the ballot could be counted.

Overall control of the US Senate is not at stake in the Florida race. President Donald Trump’s fellow Republicans held their majority in the chamber while Democrats took a majority in the House of Representatives.

But both the Senate and governor’s races were closely scrutinized as Florida is traditionally a key swing state in presidential elections.

Florida’s close races and legal disputes over the validity of votes have stirred memories of the 2000 US presidential election, when the US Supreme Court stopped an ongoing recount in the state and sent George W. Bush to the White House.

The Scott campaign called on Nelson to concede. “Last week, Florida voters elected me as their next US Senator and now the ballots have been counted twice,” Scott said in a statement.

But Nelson attorney Marc Elias said he expected the margin between the two candidates to shrink and “ultimately disappear entirely.”


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