With Results Uncertain in Florida’s Governor and Senate Elections, the State Faces Not One, but Two Recounts

November 9, 2018, 12:38 AM UTC

Florida election results remain undecided with both the senate and governor’s races falling under the 0.50% margin that triggers an automatic recount, with the latest results on Nov. 8. GOP Florida Governor Rick Scott challenged Democratic Senator Bill Nelson for his seat, and has a 0.22% lead. For governor, Tallahassee Mayor and Democrat Andrew Gillum was 0.47% behind the vote count of Ron DeSantis, a Republican House member.

Florida law mandates a recount if the margin falls under 0.5%. In the Senate race, the margin is below a 0.25% threshold that also requires a manual recount of ballots that are missing a vote for the position or contain multiple choices.

Nelson trails Scott by 17,000 votes, a shift from election night, when he trailed by 57,000 ballots cast. Gillum is behind DeSantis by 38,000 votes.

However, it’s not yet known how many ballots were cast or are left to count in Broward County, the second-largest by population in the state, and which leans heavily Democratic. Broward has no lack of independently documented problems conducting elections, the Miami Herald reported on Nov. 2.

While the potential for a Florida governor’s race recount remains seemingly non-rancorous, the Scott and Nelson camps have engaged in braggadocio. Nelson hired a veteran recount attorney, Marc Elias, who said a manual recount is a “virtual certainty” and that Broward and nearby Palm Beach counties’ outstanding ballots would put Nelson over the top.

Scott’s campaign in return accused Nelson’s team of trying to steal the election. In a statement, Scott’s campaign team said, “When Elias says ‘win,’ he means ‘steal.’ It is sad and embarrassing that Bill Nelson would resort to these low tactics after the voters have clearly spoken.”

This is a position echoed by the other senator from Florida, Republican Marco Rubio: “They are here to change the results of election & #Broward is where they plan to do it,” he tweeted.

Four other state election are headed for recount as well: three seats in the legislature and the state agricultural commissioner.

Florida abandoned the punchcard ballots that put hanging chads into the American lexicon in the 2000 Bush/Gore presidential election, and now relies on ink-filled circles on paper ballots counted by machine.

Only four of 67 counties in Florida use digital voting without a paper audit trail. In the other counties, paper ballots are filled in by voters and scanned by machine for initial and automatic recounts. Manual recounts only examine ballots that either have no vote cast for a given candidate or multiple selections entered for that candidate—so-called undervotes and overvotes—to determine intent.