By Sarah Cowgill

Well, it’s official: The State of Florida is gearing up for a double dose of lengthy recounts in the heated races for United States Senate and the Governor’s mansion.

Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL)

Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) earlier requested a recount in a last-ditch effort to retain his Senate seat after a squeaker of a race in the Sunshine State against Republican Governor Rick Scott – and that entreaty just became a reality.

Florida election law requires that candidates achieve a margin of at least 0.5% to be declared winner and the margin between Nelson and Scott has dwindled to 0.22%.  Not only has a machine recount been triggered, but the lengthy and tedious act of checking by hand is warranted as well since the margin has fallen below 0.25 points.

And although Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum conceded to Republican Ron DeSantis, the skimpy disparity of 39,000 votes, or 0.47 percentage points, has also prompted a machine recount.

Add Attorneys and Shake

Broward County is at the heart of the recount and is reporting a curious trend: It seems 24,000 people who voted for Governor skipped taking a side for Senate.  It’s peculiar and troubling considering the tiny number of votes – 17,000 — that separates the two congressional candidates.  Or so this is the concern raised by Sen. Nelson’s attorney, Marc Elias:

“I am pretty confident what you are going to see are markings that were not picked up by the machines or a calibration issue that was not registering that part of the ballot … I think it’s fair to say right now the results of the 2018 Senate election are unknown, and [media] and elections officials should treat it as such.”

If it is the case, Broward County could push Nelson into the win column.

But the Scott camp has a different take, and spokesman Chris Hartline took offense to Elias’ public comments, calling the lawyer a “hired gun” and following with “When Elias says ‘win,’ he means ‘steal.’”

As you can probably guess, tempers are flaring in Florida.

A spokeswoman for the Gillum campaign, Johanna Cervone, offered her reasoning for hiring their own attorney, Barry Richard, who represented George W. Bush in the contentious 2000 election: “Mayor Gillum started his campaign for the people, and we are committed to ensuring every single vote in Florida is counted.”

Timeline for Decisions

The state of Florida consists of 67 counties, and election officials have until noon on November 10 to report unofficial results.  A machine recount could be completed as early as November 15, but an actual timeline for a manual hand recount is a different animal altogether.  There is no precedence set in Florida to process the outcome of an election via hand count.

Heck, even the crazy 2000 presidential race, replete with push card ballots and dangling chads, leaving Americans in limbo for 36 days, did not prompt a hand ballot recount.  The complicated Florida election law and questionable ballot selections prompted 47 lawsuits in Florida, and ultimately, the winner between candidates George Bush and Vice President Al Gore was decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.

So here we go again.  All eyes are focused on Broward County and hoping on a swift and legitimate decision.  Godspeed Florida.

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