State Politics

Rick Scott fumes over incomplete election results while lead over Bill Nelson shrinks

How does an election recount work?

Florida law requires an automatic recount in a race in which the difference in vote totals is half a percent or less. The law requires a manual recount if the difference in the vote totals is 1/4 of a percent or less.
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Florida law requires an automatic recount in a race in which the difference in vote totals is half a percent or less. The law requires a manual recount if the difference in the vote totals is 1/4 of a percent or less.

Three statewide elections in Florida are all close enough to require machine recounts, and two of them would require hand recounts of ballots, based on the latest results posted by the state Friday.

With Broward still counting early and mail ballots, according to the state website, and Palm Beach County still counting mail ballots, Gov. Rick Scott holds a lead of .18 percent over Sen. Bill Nelson, or 15,074 votes. (Broward elections officials said Thursday night that its count of early and mail ballots was complete and that they had “no idea” why the state website didn’t reflect that.)

Republican Ron DeSantis holds a lead of .44 percent over Democrat Andrew Gillum in the election for governor, or 36,211 votes.

Democrat Nikki Fried clings to a lead of .04 percent over Republican Matt Caldwell in the race for the Cabinet post of agriculture commissioner, or 2,915 votes.

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The action on Friday will start at Broward Circuit Court in Fort Lauderdale, where a hearing on Scott’s suit against Snipes claiming violations of Florida’s public records laws is scheduled for 3 p.m.

Scott, President Donald Trump, Sen. Marco Rubio and Republican National Committee chairwoman Ronna McDaniel all took to Twitter to blast the performance of Broward Supervisor of Elections Brenda Snipes.

Standing outside the Governor’s Mansion Thursday night, Scott accused Snipes and Palm Beach Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher, both Democrats, of trying to steal the election.

He cited past missteps by Snipes, all of them widely reported, but offered no evidence of election fraud, and ordered the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to investigate Snipes.

FDLE Commissioner Rick Swearingen was personally chosen by Scott in 2015, even though the appointment is subject to approval by the three elected Cabinet members.

Without elaboration, Scott told reporters: “I am considering every single legal option available.”

One option Scott has is to suspend Snipes or Bucher from office, but he has to cite evidence of malfeasance.

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Scott appeared on Sean Hannity’s show on Fox Thursday night. Scott essentially repeated the same points he made earlier at the Governor’s Mansion, and Hannity told Scott: “It is obviously corrupt. Obviously laws were broken … You won this race hands down. This is a disgrace.”

Across the state, county canvassing boards will meet Friday to continue counting and rejecting provisional ballots. All counties have until noon Saturday to submit their first unofficial returns to Secretary of State Ken Detzner, who decides whether any or all of the three races meet the legal threshold for a machine recount.

Some counties are ready to start the machine recounts. In a conference call Thursday, they asked the state if they could begin the recounts now to save time.

‘That’s a great question,” Division of Elections director Maria Matthews said. “The answer is no.”

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