A room full of Miami-Dade election workers began a hand recount Thursday night of more than 10,000 problematic ballots cast in the U.S. Senate race, joined by a room full of lawyers and volunteers from both campaigns eager to contest votes for the other side. The county that still hasn’t lived down its chaotic role in the 2000 presidential recount returned to the grueling manual reckoning required under Florida law for a pair of exceptionally close statewide races. Gov. Rick Scott, a Republican, leads incumbent Bill Nelson by about 12,000 votes statewide in the Senate contest, and Democrat Nikki Fried is ahead by about 5,000 over Republican Matt Caldwell in the race for agriculture commissioner. Miami-Dade plans to start the mandated hand recount of more than 30,000 problematic ballots in the agriculture race after it concludes the review of the Senate ballots.
The Senate recount officially began at 7:31 p.m., when the three-person canvassing board voted to launch the process. But the tedious inspection of 10,039 ballots would need to wait until election workers could re-calibrate ballot scanning machines and then isolate ballots with undervotes or overvotes for the Senate contest.
Counties have until noon Sunday to complete the mandated hand recounts, before the 2018 election results are certified in Tallahassee Monday. Although elections officials had said the counting would continue through the night Thursday, the canvassing board looked at the last of the early-voting ballots just before 1:30 a.m. and left. The recount is set to resume at 8 a.m. Friday.