MIAMI (CBSMiami) – As several Florida races continue moving towards election recounts, the closest one is for Commissioner of Agriculture.
As of Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Democrat Nikki Fried moved ahead of Republican Matt Caldwell by 2,910 votes, according to the Florida Division of Elections website.
That gives Fried 50.02% of the vote and Caldwell 49.98%.
Caldwell had previously declared victory on Election Night.
“Since the first returns came in on election night, we have said that seeing through this process to the end, ensuring every vote is counted so the voices of Floridians are heard, and their will is respected—is the top priority,” Fried said in a statement released Thursday. “We’re confident that by Saturday, when final results are certified, our lead will have grown, and the voters’ choice in the race for Agriculture Commissioner will be clear.”
The Caldwell campaign followed that up with a statement of its own.
They had some sharp criticisms of Broward County Supervisor of Elections, Dr. Brenda Snipes.
“We have watched Brenda Snipes and the Broward Supervisor of Elections demonstrate gross incompetence and potential corruption election cycle after election cycle,” Brian Swensen, spokesperson for the Matt Caldwell Campaign, said in a statement late Thursday. “Over the past two days, Snipes’ office has refused to give either an accurate count of outstanding ballots or where they come from, all while the Democratic candidates continue to pick up tens of thousands of new votes. Ms. Snipes’ office has a record of incompetence and illegal behavior.”
The statement form Swensen goes on to threaten legal action.
“Our legal team is going to pursue every option to ensure election results are counted fairly, accurately, and legally. Matt Caldwell will be Florida’s next Commissioner of Agriculture and the will of the voters will be upheld.”
Strong words from the Caldwell campaign, some that Fried doesn’t necessarily agree with.
“The voters are going to make this decision,” Fried said. “This is not a process issue. This is the voters. I do believe the voters are speaking and at the end of this all, I will be the clear choice.”
As for the criticisms for Dr. Snipes, Fried said she understands why the process could be so difficult.
“Broward happens to be one of, and I am from Broward County, one of the largest counties, voting-wise, in the entire state,” she said. “There is a lot of vote turnout, a lot of excitement, and we rather it be done right than done fast. Democracy doesn’t happen overnight.”
Votes continue to be counted and counties across the state are preparing for the recount process.
If the race reaches a difference of 0.5 percent, it automatically triggers a statewide machine recount.
If it goes within .25 percent, it triggers a manual recount.