Florida Will Hold Recounts In Governor And Senate Races

Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner ordered a recount in three statewide elections, including a virtual dead heat for agriculture commissioner.

Election officials in Florida announced Saturday that the state will hold recounts in its high-profile Senate and gubernatorial races. 

Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner also ordered a recount in the race for agriculture commissioner.

An automatic statewide machine recount is carried out when the margin of victory is less than 0.5 percentage point. Unofficial results had shown that in the governor’s race, former Republican Rep. Ron DeSantis led his Democratic challenger, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, by less than the 0.5-point margin. The New York Times showed the race at 49.6 percent for DeSantis and 49.2 percent for Gillum on Saturday afternoon.  

“I am replacing my earlier concession with an unapologetic and uncompromised call to count every vote,” Gillum tweeted on Saturday. 

Gillum had conceded the race to DeSantis on election night.

The margin of victory had also narrowed in Florida’s Senate race to less than the 0.25 point threshold that triggers a manual recount, in which votes are counted by hand when “overvotes” and “undervotes” are identified.

Republican Gov. Rick Scott’s lead over Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson had narrowed to 0.15 percentage points, with the Times listing the count at 50.1 percent to 49.9 percent on Saturday afternoon.

In the race for Florida’s agriculture commissioner, Democratic candidate Nicole “Nikki” Fried pulled into the lead over Republican state Rep. Matt Caldwell by a 0.06-percentage-point margin, representing just a few thousand votes out of more than 8 million cast, according to The Orlando Sentinel. 

President Donald Trump has since responded to news of Florida’s recount on Twitter.

“Trying to STEAL two big elections in Florida!” he wrote on Saturday. “We are watching closely!”

Trump, Scott and other top Republicans had claimed earlier this week, without evidence, that there was widespread voter fraud in Florida’s contentious U.S. Senate race.

Scott alleged that there was “rampant fraud” happening in Florida’s Palm Beach and Broward counties at a news conference Thursday. He also accused “left-wing activists” of attempting to “steal” the election.

The Florida Department of State, which oversees the state’s elections, has since announced it found no evidence of criminal activity. 

In the race for agriculture commissioner, Caldwell had declared victory late Tuesday night, but Fried had pulled ahead later in the week as votes continued to be counted.  

Paul Lux, the supervisor of elections in Okaloosa County and president of the Florida State Association of Supervisors of Elections, told the Miami Herald that the state is better prepared to handle recounts than it was for the infamous 2000 presidential ballot recount, which was different in many ways from this year’s election

“Unlike 2000, this time we all have the same playbook,” he said, noting ballot uniformity, vote tabulation systems and new statewide vote recount laws. 

All of Florida’s 67 counties will have until Thursday to run ballots into machines for the second round of results, the Sentinel reported.

For results that show a margin within 0.25 percentage point, a hand recount must be conducted by Nov. 18.