Florida Senate, Governor Recounts Likely Beginning of Long Battle
TALLAHASSEE, FL – November 9, 2018
The projected election night victories of the Republican candidates for Senate and Governor in Florida are headed to recounts, and it looks to be a protracted, nasty battle that will once again center on vote count problems in the heavily Democratic Broward County.
On Thursday night, Scott announced that his Senate campaign and the National Republican Senatorial Committee were suing Broward County Elections Supervisor Brenda Snipes under public records law to force her to reveal how many ballots are left to count. The suit, filed in Broward Circuit Court, seeks an emergency hearing.
He said he has requested the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to investigate. He blasted Palm Beach Elections Chief Susan Bucher and Snipes for “incompetence.”
The recount of the Florida results in the 2000 presidential election was dominated by voting irregularities and “hanging chads” in Broward County, ending after a Supreme Court ruling. Subsequent to that ruling, the Republican candidate, George W. Bush, was declared the victor in Florida and awarded the state’s electoral college votes, which meant that he, and not the Democrat candidate, Al Gore, became the 43rd President of the United States.
As the vote count stands as of Thursday at 7:30 p.m. Eastern, Florida Gov. Rick Scott leads Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) in the Senate race by a margin of 0.19%, 50.1% to 49.9%. Scott has 4,094,577 votes to Nelson’s 4,079,501 votes out of 8,174,074 votes cast with 100% of precincts reporting, giving Scott a lead of 15,076 votes, according to Politico’s vote count.
In the gubernatorial race, Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) leads Democratic nominee Andrew Gillum by a margin of 0.42%, 49.6% to 49.2%. DeSantis has 4,072,579 votes to Gillum’s 4,036,349 votes out of 8,209,311 votes cast with 100% of precincts reporting, giving DeSantis a lead of 36,230 votes, according to Politico’s vote count.
Late Thursday, Breitbart News reported that that race is also headed to a recount.
Secretary of State Ken Detzner, a Scott appointee overseeing elections, will call for a recount once the counties reach a deadline of Saturday at noon to submit unofficial results. If the margins remain under the 0.5% threshold, recounts must be ordered under state law.
Before then, election canvassing boards in each county will review provisional ballots to determine if they are valid. Provisional ballots are given to voters who don’t have proper ID or whose names don’t show up on the rolls at the precinct.
The canvassing boards, which typically consist of the supervisor of elections, a county judge, and a county commission member, review the ballots to see if the signature matches the one on file when the voter first registered, and to determine if the voter didn’t already vote.
By law every county is required to submit their counts (not results) to the state 30 minutes after closing the polls. This prevents large discrepancies from showing up out of nowhere a day or two after elections. Two counties, Palm Beach and Broward, broke this law. These two counties also just so happen to be the only two counties still reporting 2 days after every other county already did. Miami-Dade County, which is larger than Broward and got more votes, didn’t have a problem.
Broward has been the scene of drama since the election. Of Broward ballots already counted, more than 24,000 people voted for a gubernatorial candidate but didn’t record a vote for a Senate candidate, according to county results released Wednesday, which Elias (“the attorney who infamously retained Fusion GPS to produce the largely discredited anti-Trump dossier on behalf of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, [who] has been retained to represent Sen. Bill Nelson’s recount efforts in Florida,”) said was extremely unusual.
There has been speculation that the Senate race’s placement in the bottom left corner of the Broward ballot, away from the state races that got more votes, was responsible for the undercount. But Elias said that there were significant disparities even between congressional districts in the county which meant the issue could be with voting machines.
Anyway, a recount can be called only after all of the unofficial results are in. They are supposed to be in by noon on the fourth day after the election — this Saturday. Afterward, if a machine recount is called for, it has to be done by 3 p.m. nine days after the election, which in this case is Nov. 15.
The recounts will be nationally watched, so these dates and deadlines, though, are subject to change if there are lawsuits and the courts issue injunctions that delay the process.