After receiving unofficial election results from all 67 counties, Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner on Saturday ordered machine recounts in the critical US senate and governor races.
Now, county election officials will begin feeding ballots into machines to recount the results in those races, with the second round of results due to the state by 3 p.m. Thursday.
If the results show a margin of 0.25 percent or less, as in the case of the most heated race of the three, between U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson and Gov. Rick Scott for Senate, a hand recount will be ordered. Those results would then be due Sunday, Nov. 18 at noon.
The votes cast in the U.S. Senate race were within 0.15 percentage points, a margin of less than 13,000 votes out of more than 8 million cast.
Recounts are automatic, but a candidate always has the option of declining it.
Scott spokesman Chris Hartline said, “It’s time for Senator Nelson to accept reality and spare the state of Florida the time, expense and discord of a recount.”
The Nelson campaign had sued for an injunction to extend the noon Saturday deadline, but it was not initially granted by a federal judge.
Nelson’s campaign argued the 67 counties’ “standardless and inconsistent signature-matching process” for vote-by-mail and provisional ballots has led to wildly different reasons for counties to reject ballots.
Judge Robert Hinkle wrote that “the ability to remedy the situation will not end on Nov. 10,” and set a hearing date for Monday.
Scott escalated already rising tensions across the state on Thursday night, when in a news conference he took a page from President Trump and, without citing any evidence, accused “left-wing activists in Broward County” of trying to steal the election for Nelson.
The county, in deep-blue portion of South Florida, is notoriously slow in counting its votes and as its tally mounted, Scott’s lead had predictably diminished.
In a series of tweets on Friday, Trump picked up the thread and accused the Democrats of attempting “Election Theft in Broward and Palm Beach Counties.”
On Friday, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement said it was told by the Department of State, which is run by a Republican Scott-appointee, that they had received “no allegation of criminal activity.”
Officials from both parties have focused much of their ire on Brenda Snipes, supervisor of elections in Broward County, Florida’s second-largest county and the site of the “hanging chads” and other ballot irregularities during the 2000 presidential recount.
In a brief interview, Snipes brushed off the criticism. “It’s kind of like a hurricane, where things get really stirred up for a while and then it passes,” she said. “I don’t know when this will pass, but it will.”Attribution:Orlando Sentinel