More than 24 hours after polls closed, Broward County is, remarkably, still counting votes. And in a comment that will once again remind the country of the 2000 recount fiasco, Broward County Elections Supervisor Brenda Snipes told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel she didn’t know how many more votes were left to be counted. “I can’t give you an exact number. I’m not sure. I’m really not sure.” It’s apparently lost on Snipes that it’s her job to know these things.
What hangs in balance is the U.S. Senate race between incumbent Bill Nelson and Governor Rick Scott. As of 8:30 PM Wednesday Scott had a 25,920 vote lead over Nelson — that’s out of 8.1 million votes cast.
Because Scott’s lead is less than one-half of one percent, it could trigger an automatic machine recount. That decision will be made Saturday after Florida’s 67 counties submit their unofficial election results to the state.
Nelson, facing the prospect of political retirement, has already lawyered-up and not surprisingly the attorney predicts his client will win. “We’re doing this not just because it’s automatic, but we’re doing it to win,” said Marc Elias, Nelson’s election law attorney. “A significant number of ballots have not yet been counted and, because of the size of Florida, we believe the results of the election are unknown and require a recount.”
When Governor Scott declared victory shortly after midnight Tuesday night, he had a 60,000 vote lead. That lead continues to shrink after Broward County keeps finding votes to count.
Scott’s campaign, while acknowledging a recount is likely to happen, says it won’t change the outcome of the election. “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,” said Chris Hartline, Scott campaign spokesperson.
The Senate race isn’t the only one headed for a recount. In the state Agriculture Commissioner race, Republican Matt Caldwell leads Democrat Nikki Fried by 8,139 votes. Based on the tightness of that race, it could trigger a manual recount of each ballot.
Florida’s elections have been relatively free of controversy since the 2000 recount debacle triggered a lawsuit that saw the U.S. Supreme Court decide the election that sent George W. Bush to the White House.