Florida braces for vote recounts in senate and governor's races

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RIVIERA BEACH, Fla. — Florida’s secretary of state ordered machine recounts in three statewide races Saturday, as tallies submitted by the state’s 67 counties showed the contests for Senate.

Recounts were also ordered in a state Senate race and two contests for the state House.

“Florida has never had a full statewide recount. It’s about to have three,” Andrew Weinstein, the national co-chair for the Democratic Lawyers Council, said on Twitter. “Buckle up.”

Some candidates who saw comfortable margins diminish since Tuesday, as heavily Democratic southern counties continued to process mailed and problem ballots, cried fraud and filed lawsuits.

Gov. Rick Scott, whose margin in the race for the Senate narrowed to less than 13,000 votes, denounced the embattled Broward County elections supervisor, Brenda Snipes, who, the campaign said Friday night, still refused to confirm whether she had counted all the ballots. Snipes was forced to admit that she had inadvertently tabulated about a dozen rejected ballots, which only fueled Republican accusations that her office had botched the vote-counting process.

As of noon Saturday, the deadline for the state’s counties to hand in unofficial results, three statewide races remained under the 0.5 percentage point margin for a legally required machine recount: the Senate race between Scott, a Republican, and Sen. Bill Nelson, a Democrat; the governor’s race between Ron DeSantis, a Republican, and Andrew Gillum, a Democrat; and the commissioner of agriculture race between Nikki Fried, a Democrat, and Matt Caldwell, a Republican.

Secretary of State Ken Detzner, formally ordered the recounts Saturday afternoon. The new tallies were expected to begin as early as Saturday afternoon in the state’s largest counties, Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach. Other counties could also proceed immediately, though many were expected to wait until Sunday to begin.

Each county in Florida will have until Thursday to run its ballots through counting machines again. At that point, any race that remains within a margin of 0.25 of a percentage point or less will have another three days, until Nov. 18, to conduct a manual recount.

Manual recounts seem almost certain in the races for Senate and commissioner of agriculture, which are already within that quarter-point margin.

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.

Frances Robles and Patricia Mazzei © 2018 The New York Times

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