Florida Senate Race Advances to Hand Recount

Deadline for recount is Sunday at noon

Florida is undertaking a hand recount in the race between Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson and his Republican opponent, Gov. Rick Scott. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Florida’s Senate race is proceeding from a machine recount to a hand recount, the Secretary of State announced Thursday.

It’s the latest development in the drawn-out race between Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson and his Republican opponent, Gov. Rick Scott, whose margin remains under the 0.25 of a percentage point that automatically triggers a hand recount. 

Canvassing boards in each county will have three days to examine “overvotes” and “undervotes” to try to determine how voters intended to vote. Overvotes are when the machine detects too many votes for the same office, and undervotes are when the machines don’t pick up any vote for a particular office. A Miami Herald/Tampa Bay Times estimate found there could be anywhere between 35,000 and 118,000 of these ballots.

Democrats are seeking a hand recount of all ballots in Palm Beach County because of problems with the county's vote-counting machines. 

Scott’s campaign claims that his lead grew by 865 votes during the machine recount. That would make his margin about 13,400 votes, according to his campaign. Nelson’s campaign believes the margin remains around 12,600.

Scott’s campaign, which has made multiple unfounded allegations of voter fraud in the week since Election Day, is calling on Florida to “move forward.”

But Nelson’s campaign remains optimistic about its chances to win the race and believes more votes need to be counted. 

“It has never been our position that there was going to be one silver bullet that would change the margin in this race,” Nelson recount attorney Marc Elias said on a call with reporters Thursday evening. 

Besides the hand recount, Elias believes Nelson can pick up votes from voters “curing” what’s known as signature mismatches. That refers to mail-in or provisional ballots that were rejected because the signatures on them did not match the signatures state officials had on record. A district court on Thursday extended the deadline for voters who were belatedly notified of a signature irregularity to correct their signatures on those ballots.

Elias also sees opportunity for Nelson to pick up votes from a pending lawsuit that would allow the counting of mail-in ballots that were cast by Election Day but not delivered in time. 

Watch: Bill Nelson Makes a Statement on Florida’s Senate Race Recount

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