Florida’s secretary of state announced Saturday that there will be recounts in the Senate and gubernatorial races after the races became tight enough to trigger them — amid controversy over the handling of the counts, with President Trump warning that he will be “watching closely.”
Secretary Ken Detzner issued the order after the unofficial results in both races fell within the margin that by law triggers a recount. The results of the machine recount will be due by 3 p.m. ET on Nov. 15. The votes in the Senate race between Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson and Republican Gov. Rick Scott, and the gubernatorial race between Republican Rep. Ron DeSantis and Democratic mayor of Tallahassee Andrew Gillum, will be recounted. There will also be a recount for the race for agriculture commissioner.
The mandatory recount occurs if the winning candidate’s margin is less than 0.5 percent. If the margin is less than 0.25 percent, the recount must be done by hand.
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Both Scott and DeSantis led their races after the midterms on Tuesday, with Gillum conceding to DeSantis. But as the days went on, and more votes were counted, those leads have all but disappeared.
Scott’s lead by Saturday afternoon was reduced to 0.15 percent and DeSantis’ was 0.41 percent.
The shrinking leads quickly led to suspicions from Republicans that foul play was afoot in Democratic strongholds of Broward and Palm Beach counties. Democrats, meanwhile, have accused Republicans of trying to stop all votes from being counted. President Trump on Saturday told reporters that “they are finding votes out of nowhere.”
“What’s going on in Florida is a disgrace,” he said.
He reacted within moments to the announcement of the recounts by accusing Democrats of “trying to steal two big elections in Florida!”
“We are watching closely!” he added.
Scott had asked the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to investigate the counties’ election departments, but a spokeswoman told the Associated Press there would be no investigation as there was no credible allegation of fraud.
Gillum welcomed the recount in a press conference on Saturday.
“I am replacing my words of concessions with an uncompromising and unapologetic call that we count every single vote,” he told reporters. He also called for calm, and said he was prepared to accept “whatever the outcome of this election so far as every single vote…is counted.”
In a sign of the turmoil that could ensue, protesters gathered outside the Broward elections office ahead of the announcement. Broward in particular has long been the source of election controversies. In 2016, Republican poll watchers complained that staff was opening absentee ballots in private, thereby making it impossible for groups to question whether ballots were cast, according to Politico. The GOP sued in 2017 to make sure Election Supervisor Brenda Snipes followed the law.
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On Friday, the Miami Herald reported that there were invalid ballots mixed in with about 200 valid ones, but not solution was immediately found for the problem.
The announcement was likely to bring back memories for Floridians of the tempestuous 2000 presidential election, where a chaotic recount decided the result of the election — with Republican George W. Bush eventually nudging out Democratic candidate Al Gore.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.