Nothing comes easy in Florida elections. The tightest U.S. Senate race since at least the 1970s was too close to call on election night and now appears headed for a recount. Republican Gov. Rick Scott was clinging to a 25,920-vote advantage over Democratic incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson as of Wednesday evening — or just 0.32 percent of the 8.1 million ballots cast by Floridians. State law allows for a machine recount of the results if the two candidates are separated by one-half of a percentage point or less. The race is well within that margin. “We are proceeding to a recount,” Nelson said in his only public remarks since results started coming in Tuesday.
Scott spokesman Chris Hartline said by moving ahead with the recount, Nelson was “desperately trying to hold on to something that no longer exists.”
“It’s a sad way for Bill Nelson to end his career,” Hartline said.
Florida is no stranger to contentious recounts. To this day, the repercussions of the infamous Bush-Gore fight in 2000 and the ensuing recount reverberate nearly every Election Day.
A recount can be a highly political event run by partisan county election supervisors and canvassing boards filled with party operatives. They often fight over minor ballot discrepancies and seemingly benign markings.
The jockeying was well underway Wednesday with representatives from both campaigns apparently trying to extract names of people who cast provisional ballots from local election offices.