Vote tal­lies due in Florida elec­tions

Re­counts likely in gu­ber­na­to­rial, Se­nate con­tests

Las Vegas Review-Journal - - NATION - By Terry Spencer The As­so­ci­ated Press

— Un­of­fi­cial vote tal­lies in Florida’s elec­tions were due by mid­day Sat­ur­day, which could prompt re­counts in the hotly con­tested races for gover­nor and U.S. Se­nate.

At stake was the tight and ac­ri­mo­nious U.S. Se­nate race be­tween Repub­li­can Gov. Rick Scott and in­cum­bent Demo­crat Bill Nel­son.

The gover­nor’s race be­tween for­mer Repub­li­can U.S. Rep. Ron Desan­tis and the Demo­cratic mayor of Tal­la­has­see, An­drew Gil­lum, might also face a re­count.

The re­counts re­flect a deeply di­vided elec­torate in a state that will play a crit­i­cal role in the 2020 elec­tion and will de­ter­mine whether Nel­son will re­turn to Wash­ing­ton for a fourth term or the Repub­li­cans will pad their ma­jor­ity in the Se­nate.

Gil­lum con­ceded to Desan­tis on Tues­day night, but when the re­sults be­gan to nar­row, he said ev­ery vote should count. 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.

The bat­tle for Nel­son’s Se­nate seat has been much more heated, with both sides fil­ing law­suits and trad­ing ver­bal jabs.

Scott has said Nel­son is try­ing to steal the elec­tion, while Nel­son is ac­cus­ing Scott of try­ing to stop elec­tions of­fi­cials from count­ing ev­ery bal­lot. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump has weighed in on be­half of Scott, call­ing the sit­u­a­tion “a dis­grace.”

Scott had asked the Florida Depart­ment of Law En­force­ment to in­ves­ti­gate elec­tions de­part­ments in South Florida’s Demo­crat-lean­ing Broward and Palm Beach coun­ties af­ter his lead nar­rowed in bal­lot-count­ing that con­tin­ued through the week.

How­ever, a spokes­woman for the agency said Fri­day that there were no cred­i­ble al­le­ga­tions of fraud; there­fore, no ac­tive in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

The gover­nor, mean­while, filed law­suits in both coun­ties seek­ing more in­for­ma­tion on how their bal­lots were be­ing tal­lied. Nel­son filed his own fed­eral law­suit Fri­day, seek­ing to post­pone the Sat­ur­day dead­line to sub­mit un­of­fi­cial elec­tion re­sults.

Judges sided with Scott in rul­ings late Fri­day order­ing elec­tion su­per­vi­sors in the two coun­ties to re­lease in­for­ma­tion on bal­lot-count­ing sought by the gover­nor.

Mean­while, the Broward Can­vass­ing Board met Fri­day to re­view bal­lots that had been ini­tially deemed in­el­i­gi­ble. Lawyers from the cam­paigns, jour­nal­ists and cit­i­zens crowded into a room to ob­serve the pro­ceed­ings.

Scott’s lead had nar­rowed by Fri­day evening to 0.18 per­cent­age points — a lead of less than 15,000 out of nearly 8.2 mil­lion bal­lots cast — be­low the thresh­old for a re­count.

Florida law re­quires a ma­chine re­count when the lead­ing can­di­date’s mar­gin is 0.5 per­cent­age points or less, and a hand re­count if it’s 0.25 or less.

In the race for gover­nor, Desan­tis was lead­ing by 0.43 per­cent­age points late Fri­day.

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