Florida re­counts votes in races for Se­nate, gov­er­nor

The Beaufort Gazette (Sunday) - - News - BY BREN­DAN FAR­RING­TON AND KELLI KENNEDY

The Florida sec­re­tary of state or­dered re­counts in the U.S. Se­nate and gov­er­nor races on Satur­day, an un­prece­dented re­view of two ma­jor con­tests in the state that took five weeks to de­cide the 2000 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion.

Sec­re­tary Ken Det­zner is­sued the or­der af­ter the un­of­fi­cial re­sults in both races fell within the mar­gin that by law trig­gers a re­count. His of­fice was un­aware of any other time ei­ther a race for gov­er­nor or U.S. Se­nate in Florida re­quired a re­count, let alone both in the same elec­tion.

The un­of­fi­cial re­sults show that Repub­li­can for­mer U.S. Rep. Ron DeSan­tis led Demo­cratic Tallahassee Mayor An­drew Gil­lum by 0.41 per­cent­age points.

In the Se­nate race, Repub­li­can Gov. Rick Scott’s lead over Demo­cratic in­cum­bent Bill Nel­son is 0.14 per­cent­age points.

Det­zner or­dered ma­chine re­counts in both races. Once com­pleted, if the dif­fer­ence in the races are at 0.25 per­cent­age points or be­low, a hand re­count will be or­dered, said De­part­ment of State spokes­woman Sarah Rev­ell.

Fol­low­ing the an­nounce­ment, Gil­lum with­drew his con­ces­sion in the gov­er­nor’s race.

“Let me say clearly, I am re­plac­ing my words of con­ces­sion with an un­com­pro­mised and un­apolo­getic call that we count ev­ery sin­gle vote,” he said, adding that he would ac­cept what­ever out­come emerges.

DeSan­tis has said lit­tle about the re­count and is in­stead pro­ceed­ing as if he won the elec­tion, ap­point­ing a tran­si­tion team and pre­par­ing to take of­fice in Jan­uary.

In a state­ment, Scott im­plored the state’s sher- iffs to “watch for any vi­o­la­tions and take ap­pro­pri­ate ac­tion” dur­ing the re­count.

The re­count sets up what could be sev­eral days of po­lit­i­cal ten­sion in this deeply di­vided state. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump tweeted that the elec­tions were be­ing stolen. Pro­test­ers gath­ered at an elec­tions of­fice in Broward County, which is quickly be­com­ing a bat­tle­ground in the re­count. The pro­test­ers waved signs, used bull­horns and even ha­rangued a food de­liv­ery per­son at one point, ask­ing if there were bal­lots in­side the food bags.

Scott and his sup­port­ers, in­clud­ing Trump, have al­leged that voter fraud is un­der­way in Demo­cratic- lean­ing Broward County, where the Repub­li­can lead has nar­rowed since Elec­tion Day. There’s no ev­i­dence of voter fraud and the state’s elec­tion divi­sion, which Scott runs, said Satur­day that its ob­servers in Broward had seen “no ev­i­dence of crim­i­nal ac­tiv­ity.”

The Florida De­part­ment of Law En­force­ment said Fri­day it has not launched any in­ves­ti­ga­tion into elec­tion fraud.

Florida’s 67 coun­ties will de­cide when to be­gin their re­counts, but they must be com­pleted by Thurs­day. Rev­ell said Satur­day that re­counts can’t be­gin un­til the county can­vass­ing boards post a pub­lic meet­ing no­tice, hold that meet­ing and


then do a pub­lic test of equip­ment.

Elec­tions of­fi­cials in two large coun­ties in the Tampa Bay area – Pinel­las and Hills­bor­ough – said they would be­gin re­counts Sun­day morn­ing.

Ma­chine re­counts must be fin­ished by 3p.m. Thurs­day.

The As­so­ci­ated Press had called the gov­er­nor’s race for DeSan­tis. Fol­low­ing the re­count an­nounce­ment, the AP re­tracted its an­nounce­ment. It is AP pol­icy not to call a race that is fac­ing a re­count. No new call will be made un­til the re­count is com­plete and the re­sults of the elec­tion are cer­ti­fied by Florida of­fi­cials.

The scene was rem­i­nis­cent of the 2000 pres­i­den­tial re­count, when it took more than five weeks for Florida to de­clare George W. Bush the vic­tor over Vice Pres­i­dent Al Gore by 537 votes, and thus giv­ing Bush the pres­i­dency.

Florida was mocked for the way it han­dled the in­fa­mous 2000 re­count, es­pe­cially since there was no uni­form process then on how to pro­ceed. That has changed, with the Leg­is­la­ture pass­ing a clear pro­ce­dure on how a re­count should be con­ducted.

Florida is also con­duct­ing a re­count in a third statewide race. Demo­crat Nikki Fried had a 0.07 per­cent­age point lead lead over Repub­li­can state Rep. Matt Cald­well in the race for agri­cul­ture com­mis­sioner, one of Florida’s three Cab­i­net seats.


A lawyer watches a vot­ing tech­ni­cian sort bal­lots Satur­day at a Palm Beach Su­per­vi­sor of Elec­tions fa­cil­ity in Riviera Beach, Fla. Florida’s 67 coun­ties sub­mit­ted their midterm vote tal­lies to state elec­tions au­thor­i­ties on Satur­day, set­ting the stage for a re­count of three statewide races.

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