Florida recount Day 7: State of Play

Florida's recount is now in Day 7. The results from machine recount were due Thursday. The margin in the gov...

Posted: Nov 16, 2018 1:55 PM
Updated: Nov 16, 2018 1:55 PM

Florida's recount is now in Day 7. The results from machine recount were due Thursday. The margin in the governor's race was wide enough -- more than .25% -- that they will stop counting votes in that race. Former Republican Rep. Ron DeSantis won the recount, but the votes won't be certified until Tuesday.

A hand count of the overvotes and the undervotes in the race for US Senate and agriculture commissioner will now begin, and the deadline for that count is Sunday at noon.

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Is the end in sight?

As one Democratic official told CNN, "I do think this has the potential to end."

Recount disaster

To put it bluntly: Thursday did not go well. It is, without a doubt, a disappointment for the people of Florida that three counties could not complete the automatic machine recount in a timely fashion. Broward County, the second largest county in Florida, submitted their results two minutes late. The deadline is the deadline, and THE RECOUNT OF their 700,000 votes wasn't accepted. Neither were the results in Palm Beach County, which simply couldn't get the work done. Broken machines and a slow start doomed this county from the beginning. And in a surprise, Hillsborough County, which had unexpected power outages at their elections center, could not submit their numbers in time. All three counties were forced to revert to the numbers they posted on Saturday. In the grand scheme of things, it likely doesn't impact the overall vote totals. But it demonstrates an overall problem in Florida's voting system, and it opens the door to more litigation. It is pretty clear that more people voted for Gov. Rick Scott for the US Senate and former Rep. Ron DeSantis in the governor's race, and that really has nothing to do with these problems. However, Florida should still take steps to learn from this process. This is quite clearly a state where close elections happen often.

Scott pressing for a concession

Scott would like to get on with his life. The best way to do that is for his opponent, Sen. Bill Nelson, to declare this game over. From the beginning, the hope of this race flipping was slim. With each passing day, the path to victory gets smaller. The machine recount numbers actually improved Scott's position, and the Democrats are either losing their legal challenges or not winning them convincingly. With the odds stacked against him, Nelson doesn't have too many more options. Like Andrew Gillum in the governor's race, he could admit that he can't win, but still push to get all the votes counted. That would allow an orderly transition to begin. That doesn't appear to be in the immediate offing, but it seems with each passing moment we are getting a little bit closer.

What's up with Gillum?

It is now abundantly clear that Gillum lost the race for governor. The end of machine recount did not move the needle much, and as a result, they will stop counting ballots in his race. Despite this reality, Gillum has still not conceded. He put out a statement shortly after the recount ended that made it clear he wants all the votes counted. Democrats, acknowledge that the race is over, but that doesn't mean they want the counting to stop. They view it as a scandal of real proportion that, in their view, not every vote is being counted. Gillum continues to want to be a part of the public conversation. He is giving high-profile speeches and podcast interviews and still pushing to make sure those votes are counted. That push comes even with the knowledge that it is likely that even if every single one of those votes were counted, he would still not become the governor of Florida.

DeSantis launches transition

DeSantis, however, will become the next governor of Florida. He released his first statement under the banner of "Governor-Elect" and his staffers are using official transition email handles. DeSantis has been under the radar during the recount process. He was spotted in Tallahassee this week and already has staff on the ground preparing for the transition. Gillum hasn't conceded. The two have not spoken since election night, but DeSantis did offer an olive branch to his former opponent, writing "I invite Mayor Gillum to join me in the days ahead in a conversation about the future of our great state."

Nelson's last gasp: Undervotes

Friday begins the last phase of this process. Counties will begin counting, by hand, the overvotes and the undervotes in the race for senate and agriculture commissioner. What are they? An undervote is a ballot where the machine interprets no vote being cast in a race. An overvote is when the machine interprets more than one vote cast in a single race. Human eyes will attempt to decipher the intent of voters that did not fill out their ballots correctly, and in certain Democratic heavy counties (Broward), those ballots are in pretty big numbers and could open an opportunity. While there is a chance that the results are different, that chance remains slim. In most cases, under and overvote counts follow the same trend as existing results. In this case that means a Scott win for the Senate seat.

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