JW Monitors Fla. Elections—3 Counties Miss Recount Deadline, Broward by Just 2 Minutes
NOVEMBER 15, 2018
On a day when a federal judge said Florida is the “laughingstock of the world election after election,” all but three of the state’s 67 counties met the recount deadline. Hillsborough and Palm Beach counties failed to complete machine recounts of their midterm election ballots by the 3 p.m. Thursday deadline and Broward missed it by just two minutes. A Judicial Watch investigative team is on the ground monitoring the debacle in south Florida and attorneys were present in Broward until the recount was completed just minutes before the clock ran out. However, the county uploaded the results two minutes too late which means the state will likely stick to the original tallies submitted on Saturday.
At stake are three statewide races—U.S. Senate, governor and agriculture secretary. The original ballot count released by Broward County had Democrat incumbent Senator Bill Nelson with 471,334 votes compared to Republican Governor Rick Scott’s 211,119. The machine recount showed very little change, with Nelson at 469,949 votes and Scott at 210,513. Scott has a statewide lead of 12,403 votes (4,097,689 votes compared to Nelson’s 4,085,086). In a statement Scott, a two-term Florida governor, said: “Last week, Florida voters elected me as their next U.S. Senator and now the ballots have been counted twice. I am incredibly proud and humbled by the opportunity to serve Florida in Washington. Our state needs to move forward. We need to put this election behind us, and it is time for Bill Nelson to respect the will of the voters and graciously bring this process to an end rather than proceed with yet another count of the votes – which will yield the same result, and bring more embarrassment to the state that we both love and have served.”
In the race for governor, Republican Ron DeSantis leads Democrat Andrew Gillum by 33,684 votes of more than 8.2 million ballots counted. The final statewide tally—4,075,879 for DeSantis and 4,042,195 for Gillum—will be certified next week. The Senate race is headed to a manual recount because it’s so close. Florida law requires a machine recount when the vote margin in a race is less than 0.5 % and a hand recount for undervotes and overvotes if the machine recount shows a 0.25% margin or less. An undervote occurs when no candidate is marked in a race. An overvote marks more than one candidate on the same ballot in the same race.
Gillum, the mayor of Tallahassee indicated that he won’t concede and issued a statement saying that tens of thousands of votes have yet to be counted without offering specifics. “A vote denied is justice denied – the state of Florida must count every legally cast vote,” Gillum said, adding that it’s not over until every legally casted vote is counted. Even the media called it for DeSantis with one of south Florida’s largest newspapers reporting that DeSantis is Florida’s next governor. “Nine days after Election Day, and one machine recount later, it is all but official: Ron DeSantis is Florida’s next governor,” the article states.
Under state law counties that miss the machine recount deadline keep the originally reported results on file. Palm Beach County, Florida’s third largest, has about 600,000 ballots and Election Supervisor Susan Bucher warned early on that the county’s antiquated machines would not cut it even with staff working around the clock. The machines overheated early in the week and a mechanic was flown it to trouble shoot. The manual count for the heated senate race will be different because Palm Beach has already identified 5,950 ballots with undervotes and overvotes and Bucher claims the hand count will be completed in a few hours.
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