All but one county makes FL recount deadline

Democrats hope the manual recount will overturn the results of Florida's Senate election and pave the way for Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson to keep his Senate seat, but history says Republican Gov. Rick Scott will likely maintain his lead.

Posted: Nov 16, 2018 1:31 PM
Updated: Nov 16, 2018 1:36 PM

Sen. Bill Nelson's already improbable path towards victory in a recount has gotten narrower, with the Democrat suffering a series of setbacks in court and in county election offices across the state.

The drumbeat of relatively bad news for Democrats in Florida has left any chance Nelson had of overtaking Republican Gov. Rick Scott's 12,603 vote lead in a recount as a longshot, at best, with the three-term senator needing to win an overwhelming number of votes in the ongoing manual recount or scoring a series of clear wins in court.

Nelson was handed a consequential loss early on Friday morning when Judge Mark Walker ruled that the guidelines Florida law provides to election canvassing boards as to how to determine voter intent in a manual recount are constitutional.

"The issue in this case is whether the use of these reasonable and neutral rules is constitutional," Walker said. "It is."

The loss came around the same time Walker denied a request for Scott to recuse himself from election matters.

Nelson's lawyer's -- led by top Democratic attorney Marc Elias -- have argued the mere fact that the race went to a manual recount was enough of a win for them, given the number of votes in Democratic leaning counties that remain left to count.

They have kept a particularly close watch on Broward and Palm Beach counties, where election officials have said the number of overvotes -- when a voter selects too many candidates in one race -- and undervotes -- when a voter selects no candidates in one race -- number in the thousands. The manual recount currently underway is only of those ballots, where election officials use guidelines from the state of Florida and their own judgment to determine whether a voter meant to vote to one candidate or another.

In Broward County, the number of over and undervotes was over 30,000 ballots. In Palm Beach County, that number was around 6,000, according to Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher.

Those votes now represent the only chance Nelson has to close the gap, and even then, the likelihood is dim.

Broward County elections officials announced on Friday morning that they had completed sorting their over and under votes, and the county's canvassing board was now reviewing the ballots and would announce the decision of those in dispute, meaning the intent of the voter was clearly in question.

Bucher, who testified before Walker's court on Thursday, told the judge that her team would finish the machine recount on the Senate race on Friday and then need three to five hours to complete the hand recount. She said that all could happen at some point on Friday.

Elias tried to project confidence on a call with reporters on Thursday afternoon.

"It has never been our view that there was going to be one silver bullet that was going to change the margin in this race," Elias said, noting that Democrats' strategy has long been that they would need a series of wins in court and with election officials to bring home a win for Nelson.

To date, that hasn't happened.

Nelson's lawyers did score a narrow win on Thursday when Walker ruled voters whose mismatched signatures disqualified their provisional and mail-in ballots and who were "belatedly notified" of the problem have until Saturday at 5 p.m. to correct those signature problems.

But even that victory was muted. Lawyers for Nelson and other Democrats had asked for the ballots in question to be counted with no review of the signatures at all. And even though Elias and others celebrated the ruling, Uzoma Nkwonta, a lawyer for Nelson's campaign in the case, told the judge in the hearing that a ruling that only extended the deadline by a few days -- which is what Walker ordered -- "would probably be insufficient."

Walker also denied a request on Thursday that would have made it easier for Nelson's campaign to reach out to voters who had mismatched signatures on their ballots. The lawyers had asked for the judge to require the Florida Secretary of State to release the names of people whose ballots had not been counted because their signatures did not match ones on file. Walker, quite directly, took a dim view of that argument and rejected it from the bench.

"I am not going to be used by either party," Walker told the lawyers. "That's the kind of gamesmanship that would undermine our democracy further."

And Walker also rejected the Democrats' request to remove the state's deadlines for machine and manual vote recounts on Thursday.

"This Court must be able to craft a remedy with knowledge that it will not prove futile. It cannot do so on this record," Walker wrote. "This Court does not and will not fashion a remedy in the dark."

Some decisions remain for Walker, however, and they could go Nelson's way. VoteVets Action Fund and a series of Democratic organizations urged Walker on Thursday to invalidate Florida law that says domestic mailed ballots must arrive in elections offices by election night. The suit argues that voters should not be held responsible for the speed of the US Postal Service and should be treated similar to overseas mailed ballots, which have a later deadline.

Walker did not indicate on Thursday how he would rule on the matter, but even if he does rule in favor of the Democratic interests on the matter, it is unlikely to be enough vote to close the Nelson's deficit. Supervisor of Elections for Leon County Mark Earley testified during the hearing that the number of domestic mail-in ballots that came in after the deadline this year was 178 in his jurisdiction, which includes Tallahassee. While that number would be larger in more populous counties like Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade, it is highly unlikely to be enough for Nelson.

For Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, the Democratic candidate for governor in Florida, the path to victory in a recount has closed.

Gillum trails former Rep. Ron DeSantis by over 33,000 votes -- a margin that actually went DeSantis' way by one vote during the machine recount.

Gillum has not conceded and, in a statement on Thursday, indicated he would not get out of the race.

In an interview with Pod Save America published Thursday, Gillum said he was in "fighting shape" in Tallahassee and was looking forward to getting every vote counted.

West Lafayette
Clear
74° wxIcon
Hi: 86° Lo: 62°
Feels Like: 74°
Kokomo
Clear
68° wxIcon
Hi: 84° Lo: 59°
Feels Like: 68°
Rensselaer
Clear
64° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 58°
Feels Like: 64°
Fowler
Clear
64° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 60°
Feels Like: 64°
Williamsport
Clear
69° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 62°
Feels Like: 69°
Crawfordsville
Clear
68° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 64°
Feels Like: 68°
Frankfort
Clear
69° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 61°
Feels Like: 69°
Delphi
Clear
69° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 60°
Feels Like: 69°
Monticello
Clear
69° wxIcon
Hi: 86° Lo: 59°
Feels Like: 69°
Logansport
Clear
70° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 58°
Feels Like: 70°
Turning Warmer & More Humid, Then Big Cool-Down
WLFI Radar
WLFI Temps
WLFI Planner

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 76522

Reported Deaths: 3086
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion16194731
Lake7742281
Elkhart495586
Allen4040163
St. Joseph361083
Hamilton2887104
Vanderburgh205313
Hendricks1943108
Cass18069
Johnson1794119
Porter136239
Clark130750
Tippecanoe124511
Madison103066
LaPorte93530
Howard92065
Kosciusko87212
Floyd82249
Bartholomew82147
Marshall79423
Monroe76732
Delaware76052
Vigo71411
Dubois71312
Boone69746
Noble69029
Hancock68839
Jackson5975
Warrick58830
Shelby56828
LaGrange56610
Grant53130
Dearborn51628
Morgan48934
Clinton4504
Henry41820
Wayne38810
White37711
Montgomery36021
Lawrence35727
Harrison35224
Decatur34232
Putnam3218
Daviess27920
Miami2772
Scott27310
Jasper2572
Greene25434
Franklin24715
DeKalb2384
Gibson2334
Jennings22812
Steuben2153
Ripley2138
Carroll2003
Fayette1957
Perry18713
Posey1800
Starke1807
Orange17824
Wells1782
Fulton1732
Wabash1715
Jefferson1662
Knox1640
Whitley1566
Tipton14912
Washington1441
Sullivan1411
Spencer1393
Clay1315
Huntington1273
Randolph1274
Newton12110
Adams1172
Owen1051
Jay920
Rush894
Pulaski821
Fountain762
Brown752
Blackford662
Ohio656
Benton640
Pike620
Vermillion590
Parke551
Switzerland530
Martin500
Crawford450
Union410
Warren241
Unassigned0208

COVID-19 Important links and resources

As the spread of COVID-19, or as it's more commonly known as the coronavirus continues, this page will serve as your one-stop for the resources you need to stay informed and to keep you and your family safe. CLICK HERE

Closings related to the prevention of the COVID-19 can be found on our Closings page.

Community Events