After an unprecedented amount of blatant voter fraud, a barrage of legal action, questions over uncounted ballots and the failure of two South Florida counties to meet the deadline, a machine recount produced little change in the overall results to three statewide races Thursday.
Even so, the U.S. Senate and agriculture commissioner races are headed to manual recounts, results of which are due to the state by noon on Sunday. Certification of the official election results is scheduled for 9 a.m. Tuesday
In the governor’s race, the recount showed that Democrat Andrew Gillum trailed Republican Ron DeSantis by 33,683 votes, a net gain of 1 vote for Gillum from the unofficial results reported last week. The margin was 0.41 percent out of more than 8 million votes cast, outside the 0.25 percent threshold needed for a manual recount.
Although the lead appears insurmountable, Gillum would not concede and called for counting to continue. He stopped just short of filing a lawsuit to demand so, however.
Scott urged Nelson to forgo the hand recount and concede the race.
“Our state needs to move forward,” Scott said. “We need to put this election behind us, and it is time for Bill Nelson to respect the will of the voters and graciously bring this process to an end rather than proceed with yet another count of the votes – which will yield the same result, and bring more embarrassment to the state that we both love and have served.”
For agriculture commissioner, Democrat Nikki Fried held a 5,307 vote lead over Republican Matt Caldwell in that race after the machine recount, a net gain of 19 votes for Caldwell.
Meanwhile, a spate of seven lawsuits in federal court, along with a string of other cases in local courts throughout the state, continues take their course throughout Florida.
U.S. District Court Judge Mark Walker lambasted the state and Palm Beach County election officials for not anticipating issues with the election.
“We have been the laughingstock of the world, election after election, and we chose not to fix this,” Walker said in court.
In Palm Beach, the county’s Election Office was unable to complete a recount because of malfunctioning vote-counting machines. The county had to revert to its initial, pre-recount numbers as part of the new statewide results.
“It was a heroic effort and we just completed uploading our Saturday results, as was required by law,” elections chief Susan Bucher declared on Thursday as the 3 p.m. deadline passed.
Broward County election officials missed the deadline by two minutes, so state officials used their unofficial totals reported last week.
Hillsborough County also decided not to send its recount results to the state and reverted to original, pre-recount numbers due to what its canvassing board believed were machine issues, Elias said.
Walker denied a request from Nelson to extend the deadlines for machine and manual recounts.
In Orange County, the hand recount of 259 overvotes and 2,977 undervotes was expected to begin Friday morning.
All six major candidates somehow lost votes in the machine recount in Orange, with the Democrats losing on average about 27 more votes than Republicans. Nelson lost 94 votes, Gillum 84 and Fried 75, while Scott lost 59, DeSantis 55 and Caldwell 59.
In Seminole, the three Republican candidates each gained 3 or 4 votes and each Democrats lost between three and five votes. In Lake, Democrats each lost 13 or 14 votes while Republicans lost between 5 and 8.
Howvever, the percentage point difference in Orange, Seminole and Lake in all three races in remained exactly the same.
Under state law, in a manual recount, county election officials review all of the overvotes and undervotes to determine voter intent and decide whether to count them in the final tally. Overvotes are ballots where the machine reads more than one option in a given race; undervotes are when the machine records no vote.
Overvotes and undervotes typically happen due to voter error. If a voter doesn’t fill in the ballot correctly, marking an “x” over a bubble or circling their choice rather than filling in the bubble, it could count as an undervote.
The Florida Department of State has guidelines for determining voter intent in those cases, but those rules are the subject of yet another lawsuit pending in federal court by losing democrat Nelson’s campaign. The suit claims the rules mean that some errant votes will count but not others, thus “disenfranchising” some voters.