Recounts possible in U.S. Senate, governor's races as margins shrink

Sen. Bill Nelson calls for recount in close race against Gov. Rick Scott


ORLANDO, Fla. – A recount is possible in the Florida governor's race after the margin of victory shrank below one-half a percentage point Thursday, according to updated numbers.

Numbers from Floridaelectionwatch.gov showed Ron DeSantis, the Republican governor-elect who accepted victory in the race Tuesday night after Democratic Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum conceded, leading in the polls with 49.62 percent of the vote. Gillum had 49.15 percent, according to the site. 

Gillum encouraged voters Thursday to follow up and make sure their ballots were counted, as votes were still being tallied.

If the current numbers hold, the margin of victory is small enough to meet the state's requirements for a machine recount.

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 0.5 percent, according to Ballotpedia.org. If the margin of victory is equal to or less than 0.25 percent, the recount must be done by hand.

Florida's secretary of state must still officially declare whether there will be a recount in any state race. Secretary of State Ken Detzner has not said whether one will be conducted.

A recount may also be in the future for the U.S. Senate race that's still too close to call between Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson and his Republican challenger, Florida Gov. Rick Scott.

Since Scott declared his victory Tuesday, when he had 50 percent of the vote and Nelson had 49 percent, Scott's lead has narrowed.

As of Thursday evening, it met the qualifications to undergo a manual recount, with Scott earning 50.09 percent of the vote. Numbers showed Nelson with 49.91 percent of the vote.

During a news conference Thursday night, Scott noted that only 15,000 votes separate him from his opponent. He also vowed to have the Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigate the Supervisor of Elections in Broward and Palm Beach counties because he said votes there are still being discovered and have not been counted.

"We all know what is going on ... their goal is to keep mysteriously finding more votes until the election turns out the way they want," Scott said.

He said both counties are committing "rampant fraud" and he will explore every legal option possible.

Officials with Nelson's campaign called for a recount Wednesday morning, saying Scott prematurely claimed victory. A spokesman for Nelson's campaign also said Tuesday night that there were issues with polling places in South Florida that could have affected the race.

"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.

Republican Sen. Marco Rubio released a thread of tweets Thursday, saying there shouldn't still be issues with counting votes in South Florida if the portion of the state that was affected by the hurricane managed to have its votes counted in time. Rubio said the issues in South Florida were posing a threat on the elections statewide.

Floridians are also keeping a close eye on the agriculture commissioner's race between Democrat Nikki Fried and Republican Matt Caldwell, which has remained too close to be called since Tuesday night.

On election night, Caldwell led Fried by about 12,000 votes, about 0.16 percentage point, however, as provisional, absentee, military and overseas ballots continue to come in those numbers are changing.

The tide turned Thursday when Caldwell was down by more than 500 votes and Fried had pulled ahead, according to the Florida Division of Elections' unofficial election night results.

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