Bill Nelson calls for recount in tight U.S. Senate race against Rick Scott

Scott 'prematurely claimed victory,' Nelson's campaign says

ORLANDO, Fla. – Though one candidate already declared himself the winner, the other is demanding a recount in the close U.S. Senate race between Sen. Bill Nelson and Florida Gov. Rick Scott.

Scott, a Republican who has served as governor since 2011, gave an acceptance speech at his watch party Tuesday night when he had 50 percent of the vote and Nelson, the Democratic incumbent, had garnered 49 percent. Numbers Wednesday morning showed Scott leading by an even smaller margin, raising questions over the possibility of a recount.

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Officials with Nelson's campaign called for the recount Wednesday, saying Scott prematurely claimed a victory.

"We are proceeding to a recount," Nelson said.

Florida law provides for automatic recounts when the margin of victory for the winner and runner-up for an office is equal to or less than .5 percent, according to Ballotpedia.org. If the margin of victory is equal to or less than .25 percent, the recount must be done by hand.

Officials with Nelson's campaign said Wednesday that unofficial data showed Scott leading with just more than 34,500 votes out of a total of 8.1 million ballots cast, which means there is less than a one-half percentage point difference.

Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner has not said whether a recount will be conducted.

Nelson has not conceded, although his staff told News 6 that he would speak on Wednesday.

Officials with Nelson's team said Tuesday night that not all votes had been counted because of polling problems.

"There are seven precincts in Broward County where the electronic systems failed and the ballots are being delivered by thumb drive, so the numbers are still up in the air," a spokesman for Nelson's campaign said.

Nelson's team said their next step would be to have the supervisors of elections in each of Florida's 67 counties to recheck the total tally while his campaign contacts voters whose ballots were not counted due to various issues.

A spokesman for Scott's campaign said Wednesday morning that the race is over.

"This race is over. It's a sad way for Bill Nelson to end his career. He is desperately trying to hold on to something that no longer exists," the spokesman said.

During his speech Tuesday night, Scott thanked his supporters and his family.

"Together we reinvented state government in Florida and we're going to do the same thing in D.C. The federal government is frustrating, it's outdated, it's wasteful and it's inefficient," Scott said.

The race was still too close Wednesday morning to officially be called.

Meanwhile, numbers showed that white voters with a college education were divided and white voters without a college degree were more likely to favor Scott.

Nelson led among black voters and also had an apparent advantage among Hispanic voters.

Voters under 45 preferred Nelson; those ages 45 and older were split.

Scott made the race the toughest for Nelson since he won office in 2000. Scott pumped more than $60 million of his own money into the campaign heading into the final week of campaigning.

Ron DeSantis will be Florida's next governor.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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