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After machine recounts, Republicans Rick Scott and Ron DeSantis maintain leads in races for U.S. Senate, governor
♦By Rich Shumate, ChickenFriedPolitics.com editor
TALLAHASSEE (CFP) — After a machine recount of ballots in all 67 Florida counties, Republican candidates Rick Scott and Ron DeSantis maintained leads in races for U.S. Senate and governor, with time and options running out for their Democratic rivals, Bill Nelson and Andrew Gillum.
In the Senate race, vote totals updated after the conclusion of the machine recount showed Scott with a lead of 12,600 votes over Nelson — a small enough margin that a hand recount of overvotes and undervotes in the race was ordered, with a Sunday deadline.
In the governor’s race, DeSantis’s lead over Gillum was 33,700, not enough to trigger a hand recount. That would seem to leave Gillum with no path to victory before final results are certified on Tuesday, unless he can successfully contest the election’s outcome in court.
However, because totals from three counties that missed a Thursday deadline for the recount — Broward, Palm Beach and Hillsborough — were not included in the revised totals, Gillum has refused to concede, saying “there are tens of thousands of votes that have yet to be counted.”
“We plan to do all we can to ensure that every voice is heard in this process,” he said in a statement. “Voters need to know that their decision to participate in this election, and every election, matters. It is not over until every legally cast vote is counted.”
But DeSantis, who has declared victory, made it clear he is now planning for his transition into the governor’s chair.
“Campaigns of ideas must give way to governing and bringing people together to secure Florida’s future,” he said in a statement. “With the campaign now over, that’s where all of my focus will be.”
In the Senate race, the rival campaigns have filed a flurry of lawsuits since election night, as Scott’s lead over Nelson has steadily decreased.
Most of the contention has centered around Broward County, a Democratic bastion where late tabulation of vote totals has prompted Republican leaders, including Scott and President Donald Trump, to allege fraud.
In Broward, 25,000 fewer votes were cast in the Senate race than in the race for governor, an anomaly that Nelson’s camp hopes might turn the race around.
If those undervotes were the result of a tabulation error, then the hand recount of ballots where no vote for Senate was cast could turn up additional Nelson votes. However, if those results are the result of a flawed ballot design, the race would come to an end.
In Broward, the Senate race was tucked at the bottom of a long column on the ballot, under lengthy voting instructions, where some voters might not have seen it.
Once the recounts are over, Secretary of State Ken Detzner, a Scott appointee, will certify the votes. At that point, both Scott and Gillum have the option of going to court to contest the election, although that would require evidence of irregularities serious enough to change the outcome.
Scott’s victory in the Senate race would be a pickup for Republicans and mark the first time the GOP has held both of the state’s Senate seats in more than 100 years. DeSantis would succeed Scott in the governor’s chair.