Florida Begins Statewide Vote Recount in Senate and Governor’s Races

A lawyer watches as a voting technician sorts ballots at a Palm Beach Supervisor of Elections center in Riviera Beach, Fla., on Saturday.
Scott McIntyre for The New York Times

Florida began the first full, statewide vote recount in its history on Saturday after authorities found that tallies submitted by its 67 counties left the contests for Senate, governor and agriculture commissioner too close to call.

Recounts were also ordered in a State Senate race and two contests for the State House, a measure of the slender margins in the nation’s largest swing state that have left two of the most closely watched races in the country still undecided, four days after the midterm elections.

After unofficial results came in shortly after noon on Saturday, Gov. Rick Scott’s edge in the race for the Senate had slipped to just 12,600 votes over the Democratic incumbent, Bill Nelson. Andrew Gillum, the Democratic Tallahassee mayor who on election night had conceded his loss in the governor’s race to Ron DeSantis, rose to within 33,600 votes, and retracted his earlier concession.

“Florida has never had a full statewide recount. It’s about to have three,” Andrew Weinstein, the national chairman of the Democratic Lawyers Council, said on Twitter. “Buckle up.”

The sight of grim-faced candidates, shouting protesters outside the Broward County elections office and lawyers flown in from Washington evoked memories of Florida’s hotly contested recount over the 2000 presidential election between George W. Bush and Al Gore and capped off one of the most bitterly divisive midterm election seasons in years.

And Florida was not the only state still trying to determine election outcomes. In the Georgia governor’s race, Brian Kemp, the Republican, was ahead of his Democratic opponent, Stacey Abrams, by about 63,000 votes.

In Arizona, Kyrsten Sinema, the Democratic candidate in the state’s uncalled Senate race, expanded her lead on Friday to 20,203 votes over Martha McSally, the Republican contender — and thousands of ballots were still to be counted.

Across Florida, elections office employees already exhausted after processing thousands of ballots since Tuesday geared up for a new round of tabulations, this time with a tight deadline that requires results by Thursday.

The Miami-Dade elections office will have to work around the clock, in daytime and overnight shifts, to conduct the recount, said Suzy Trutie, a spokeswoman. The office, which normally relies on six ballot-counting machines, has rented an additional four machines, scheduled to arrive on Monday from Omaha, Neb.

Broward County officials said they were not prepared for the voting-machine calibration test they had planned for Saturday afternoon and were recessing until 7 a.m. Sunday, when they would commence working two 12-hour shifts a day.

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SOURCE: NY Times, Frances Robles and Patricia Mazzei