Story by Mike Synan
Gov. Rick Scott declared victory in Florida’s U.S. Senate race but U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., continues to say not so fast.
Welcome to Florida, delaying election victory parties since 2000. As of Wednesday afternoon, the vote tally for Scott was 4,081,609 and 4,051,448 for Nelson, a difference of just 0.38 percent. Florida law calls for a recount when the margin of victory is .5 percent or less and that is exactly what will happen.
Scott isn’t budging, with his sending out a short press release from spokesman Chris Hartline.
“This race is over. It’s a sad way for Bill Nelson to end his career. He is desperately trying to hold on to something that no longer exists,” Hartline said on Wednesday .
Nelson, on the other hand, is gearing up a fight. His campaign team sent out a fundraising email saying the recount is next.
“I need your help right now in our emergency response recount fund. We know Rick Scott and the GOP are about to pile everything they’ve got into this, and I need you right here with me to make sure every last vote is counted,” Nelson wrote.
Florida Democrats are hoping to raise $150,000 in a single day to help fund the lawyers they will need to have lawyers in the room for each of Florida’s 67 counties during that recount.
Nelson himself had nothing to say other than “we are proceeding to a recount.” His campaign attorney, though, is sharpening his pen, watching for shenanigans by Republican Supervisors of Elections.
“We expect the supervisors, regardless of their party affiliation, will discharge their constitutional duties,” said Marc Elias, an election lawyer representing the Nelson campaign.
Where does the Nelson camp hope to find 30,000 votes? They plan to go over provisional ballots across the state to see if people will be denied the right to vote. There could be any number of reasons why a voter would be denied, the most likely is that they simply showed up to the wrong polling place on Election Day and refused to fix their mistake. There are hundreds of other, less legitimate reasons why someone would have needed a provisional ballot and it should be counted. In particular, absentee ballots will be checked by Democrat lawyers to make sure they were not denied because a signature that did not match.
The easy part of the recount can begin right away. Supervisors of Elections in each of Florida’s 67 counties will retabulate each voting machine to make sure the numbers from election night match the totals in the recount. It will take longer for each county to put the absentee, provisional and overseas military votes through the machines again. The lawyers on both sides will watch that process very carefully.
Reach Mike Synan at Mike.Synan@floridadaily.com.