Gov. Rick Scott has once again declared victory in the U.S. Senate race and is calling on Sen. Bill Nelson to concede the election. With the machine recount complete, Scott maintained his lead over Nelson – by 12,603 votes. Because they are separated by 0.15% Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner has ordered a manual recount in the race.
That didn’t stop Scott from calling on Nelson to end the race.
“Last week, Florida voters elected me as their next U.S. Senator and now the ballots have been counted twice,” said Scott. “I am incredibly proud and humbled by the opportunity to serve Florida in Washington. Our state needs to move forward. We need to put this election behind us, and it is time for Bill Nelson to respect the will of the voters and graciously bring this process to an end rather than proceed with yet another count of the votes – which will yield the same result, and bring more embarrassment to the state that we both love and have served.”
Not surprisingly Sen. Nelson isn’t quitting. His attorney, while admitting there is no one “silver bullet” to close the gap, insists there’s still a path to victory for Nelson.
Nelson’s camp is confident they can pickup votes on two fronts: the mail-in ballots that were thrown out because of signature mismatches and the hand recount. A federal court sided with Nelson Thursday and gave voters, who had their ballots voided because their signatures didn’t match those on file, until Saturday to correct the issue. National Republicans appealed but the Eleventh Circuit Court in Atlanta upheld the lower court ruling.
The biggest bulk of new votes for Nelson could come in the ordered manual recount, especially in Broward County. There are at least 25,000 Broward residents who voted in the Governor’s race but didn’t vote in the Senate race. A bad ballot design has been blamed by some election observers, but Nelson’s camp believes the issue is the machinery.
“That will not only narrow the margin but very well may reverse it entirely,” said Nelson recount attorney Mark Elias. “This is what we have been seeking all along because this is when people lay eyes on ballots and can make determinations to voter intent.”
There are still a number of lawsuits pending, most filed by the Nelson campaign. The manual recount is supposed to conclude Sunday, but that too may be the subject of a future lawsuit. One thing is clear — who won the U.S. Senate race probably won’t be known until next week, at the earliest.