Election day may be over but one of Florida’s most important races may still be undecided after incumbent Bill Nelson called for a recount on Wednesday due to the narrow margin of victory by his opponent, Rick Scott.
“We’re are proceeding to a recount,” Nelson said in a Wednesday morning statement.
Scott and Nelson had been in a statistical tie in multiple polls during the weeks leading up to the election, and the actual vote total ended up being even closer with the former governor winning by about 30,000 votes according to the Florida Division of Elections. Despite the close margin, multiple major media organizations called the race for Scott, and he delivered a victory speech to supporters in Naples just before midnight, noting how divisive elections can be.
“And they’re really actually way too nasty,” Scott said. “But you know what? We’ve done this for over 200 years, and after these campaigns, we come together.”
The governor also gave a familiar speech about in inefficiencies of government and impact he intends to make on Washington.
“The federal government is frustrating. It’s outdated. It’s wasteful. It’s inefficient,” Scott said. “All of us in state government have dealt with the federal government over the last eight years, and we can tell you story after story after story. Now, I’m just one individual, but there are a lot of other individuals in D.C. that want to do the same thing. And I’m going to work with them and we will change, like we did in Florida, the direction of Washington, D.C.”
Despite the media calls and victory speech, Nelson never conceded the race to Scott, and has now called for a recount. The recount would likely take place with or without the incumbent senator’s request. A recount is automatically triggered if the margin of victory is .5 percent or less, and current totals from the Florida Division of Elections show Scott holding a slim .38 lead over Nelson.
Supervisor of elections from all 67 Florida counties will be rechecking and verifying their vote totals as well as finishing the tabulation of absentee and provisional ballots. The Nelson campaign plans to have observers in all of the relevant countries, hoping to find the more than 30,000 votes the incumbent senator would need to find in order to keep his seat.
“We expect the supervisors, regardless of their party affiliation, will discharge their constitutional duties,” said Marc Elias, an election lawyer representing the Nelson campaign.
As it stands, Republicans will retain their majority in the Senate, but with upcoming battles over judicial nominations on the horizon, the party is certainly looking to have Scott hold on to his victory and pad their lead in future votes.
Nelson’s race is not the only one headed for a recount, either. Nikki Fried, the Democrat running against Matt Caldwell for Commissioner of Agriculture said Wednesday morning in a statement that she expected to see a recount. In that race, Caldwell had just a 13,000 vote lead out of approximately 8 million cast votes.
“This is the closest race since we’ve seen here in Florida since Bush v. Gore in 2000 — we’re heading into a recount,” Fried said. “We are going to ensure that every vote is counted, in a race this close, everyone’s voices must be heard so the will of the people is upheld.”
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