Recounts likely in Florida governor, senate races

By Michael Sherer | Washington Post

Nearly two decades after hanging chads transfixed the nation, Florida is once again headed toward a high-stakes election recount, as vote margins narrowed in Democrats’ favor Thursday in the state’s marquee U.S. Senate and governor’s races.

Hundreds of party and interest-group volunteers spent the day trying to track down people who had cast provisional ballots, seeking affidavits to prove their votes should be counted. And in an echo of the 2000 presidential election, state Republicans tried to preempt the coming fight by accusing Democratic lawyers of heading to Broward County to “steal” the election.

In the Senate race, Gov. Rick Scott, R, had a lead of just more than 17,000 votes, or 0.22 percent, over Sen. Bill Nelson, D, as of Thursday afternoon. In the governor’s race, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, D, trailed former Rep. Ron DeSantis, R, by fewer than 39,000 votes, or 0.47 percent.

Under Florida law, a statewide machine recount is conducted when the margin of victory is less than 0.5 percent, and a manual recount is ordered if the margin is less than 0.25 percent.

The likely recounts, however, are expected to be more orderly than the televised circus that resulted in George W. Bush’s election to the presidency. Under changes to state law, local canvass boards no longer have discretion over whether to order a recount, and new optical-scan voting machines have made it easier to divine voter intent than the old punch card ballots, which sometimes featured the partially detached bits of paper.

The recount preparations come as legal challenges have added suspense to statewide races in two other key states. Four county Republican parties in Arizona filed suit Wednesday to prevent county recorders from trying to verify signatures after polls closed for mail-in ballots in a U.S. Senate race in which Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, D, pulled into the lead over Rep. Martha McSally, R, on Thursday night.

In Georgia, the campaign of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, who is hoping to trigger a runoff election with Republican Brian Kemp, filed a federal lawsuit to allow for the counting of absentee ballots received before the close of business Friday. Kemp had overseen the election as Georgia’s secretary of state before resigning the post Thursday.

Common Cause, a civil rights group, is seeking emergency relief that will give it more time to investigate all provisional ballots. The group also wants a federal judge to order Georgia to count all provisional ballots, unless the state proves that a voter was not eligible or did not register in time.

A runoff would be called in Georgia if neither candidate exceeds 50 percent of the vote. As of Thursday night, Kemp stood at 50.33 percent and Abrams at 48.7 percent.

The campaigns for Nelson and Gillum in Florida have become more optimistic in recent days as newly counted votes in Broward County increased their totals. They have put the state on notice that they plan to aggressively monitor any recounts.

“We believe at the end of the day, Senator Nelson is going to …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Politics


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