Florida’s United States Senate and Governor seats are officially close enough to warrant a recount, thanks in large part to late votes coming in from Broward County — the center of the “Hanging Chads” controversy after the 2000 Presidential Election.
In the race for United States Senate, Incumbent Democrat Rick Nelson and Republican Gov. Rick Scott are only separated by 0.22% — or just over 17,000 votes — with Scott holding a narrow lead, while in the Governor’s race, Democrat Andrew Gillum trails Ron DeSantis by only 38,000 votes — which brings the margin below the 0.5% threshold to have a machine recount — even though Gillum actually conceded defeat Tuesday Night. It will mark the first time the Florida Governor’s seat will be heading to a recount in the state’s history.
🚨 Florida Governor’s race for the FIRST TIME is heading to a recount
That’s below the 0.5% trigger for a recount
— Marc Caputo (@MarcACaputo) November 8, 2018
Because a concession by a candidate isn’t legally binding, a recount can still take place as long as the percentages are low enough to trigger one, which is the case in both races. Gillum’s election team says they want every vote in Broward County tabulated.
“On Tuesday night, the Gillum for Governor campaign operated with the best information available about the number of outstanding ballots left to count. Since that time, it has become clear there are many more uncounted ballots than was originally reported,”Johanna Cervone, Gillum’s communications director said in a statement. “Mayor Gillum started his campaign for the people, and we are committed to ensuring every single vote in Florida is counted.”
The center of the political universe at the moment is Broward County, the second biggest county in Florida and the most liberal. It’s also where the 2000 Presidential Election was decided that featured President George W. Bush running against Vice President Al Gore, with Bush narrowly winning the Electoral College and the Presidency.
This time around, the controversy surrounds the Supervisor of Elections in Broward County Brenda Snipes, a democrat. Snipes can’t and won’t say how many ballots are left to count — which drew the ire of Republican Senator Marco Rubio, who let out a string of tweets Thursday decrying Snipes’ controversial past and even tweeted about a conspiracy to make sure democrats are elected to the contested seats by vote manipulation.
Now democrat lawyers are descending on #Florida. They have been very clear they aren’t here to make sure every vote is counted.
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) November 8, 2018
Rubio didn’t cite any evidence of wrongdoing in his tweets.
The reason votes are still being counted in Broward County is mainly due to the large number of registered voters — which stands at 1.2 million for the 2018 midterms and 52% of those voters are registered as democrats. However, that’s not what election experts think is the biggest problem in Broward County. They believe there’s a problem with the ballot design due to the discrepancy in the votes for U.S. Senate and Governor.
Over 24,000 more votes were cast for the gubernatorial race than the Senate, which didn’t happen in the 66 other Florida counties. The Senate race was considered a ‘top-of-the-ballot’ race — which usually receives the most votes, however Broward voters cast more ballots for the state’s chief financial officer, agriculture commissioner, and attorney general than they did for the Senate.
Marc Elias — the lawyer that’s overseeing Bill Nelson’s recounting efforts believes that there’s a different problem with the margin of votes for the Senate being lower than other races — faulty optical-scan machines. Elias says that those machines didn’t pick up poorly marked ballots, which could end up making a significant difference in his client’s bid for the Senate. He also says once those votes are accounted for, it will be a “jump ball” between Nelson and Scott once the recounts begin
The recount is scheduled for November 11th if all votes are tabulated and accounted for by then.
Brandon Howard is a contributor for GritPost and former public radio reporter based out of Lexington, Kentucky. Follow him on Twitter @mrpowerhoward.