MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Despite Governor Rick Scott declaring victory, the Senate race is too close to call as of early Wednesday evening and is heading to a recount, according to Senator Bill Nelson’s office.
Unofficial results show Nelson narrowly trailing Scott by a little more than just 34,500 votes out of a total of 8.1 million ballots cast, according to the Senator’s office. That’s less than a one-half percentage point difference.
“We are proceeding to a recount,” Nelson said Wednesday morning in a brief statement.
Looks like we’re headed for a recount. https://t.co/ugejUlN924
— Nelson for U.S. Senate (@NelsonForSenate) November 7, 2018
“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 Scott for Florida spokesman Chris Hartline.
As the votes were still being tallied Tuesday night, Scott prematurely claimed victory after Fox News had called him the winner, according to the Nelson campaign.
“We will change, like we did in Florida, the direction of Washington D.C.,” Scott told the crowd of supporters in his victory speech.
Nelson issued a brief statement saying the results up to that point were disappointing and that he would wait until Wednesday before issuing a full statement.
Scott has a history of tight races. In 2010 and the 2014 midterm his race was decided by about one percent or 60 thousand votes.
Overnight Scott saw his roughly 60 thousand vote lead cut in half by sunrise. As of noon Wednesday, as the margin continues to shrink, the lead is now 30,161 and there still are an estimated 113,000 votes to be counted – votes in areas where Nelson would be expected to win by 24.9%, according to Nelson’s campaign.
State law requires a recount when candidates are within one-half point.
State officials will not officially order a recount until Saturday when the first set of unofficial returns are due.
A recount order from Secretary of State Ken Detzner will require all 67 county supervisors of election to recheck the total tally.
The recount happens in front of the public. Such a recount would involve running ballots through tabulating machines to determine the accuracy of the vote totals, according to state law. They would check to make sure the machines are accurate and then re-run all the machines to see if the results match up.
The Nelson campaign said Wednesday it intends to have observers in all counties watching for any irregularities, mistakes or “unusual partisan activities.” The campaign also plans to contact voters whose ballots were not counted due to a lack of ID or a matching address.
If the vote difference after the recount goes to .25 or less, the entire state heads into a manual recount. That would be a huge undertaking, never seen before.
A statewide recount was held for the infamous 2000 election. In that case, though, the recount was only of undervotes – votes were the ballot indicated someone didn’t vote.