Both the senate seat Scott thought was his on Tuesday night, and the Governors spot that looked all but won by Republican Ron DeSantis are both now within the margin of error for a recount.
Scott believed he won over the Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson, however, during a press conference Thursday night, after his Senate campaign sued Broward County and Palm Beach County elections officials to turn over records regarding how ballots are being counted, Scott said: The people of Florida deserve fairness and transparency, and the supervisors are failing to give it to us.
Scott accused election officials in Broward and Palm Beach counties, two Democratic strongholds, of “rampant fraud” in a vote counting process that has continued two days after the election and sharply narrowed GOP leads in statewide races, even flipping the state agriculture commission race from a Republican to Democratic lead of more than 2,000 votes on Thursday.
The lawsuit was filed about the same time Scott ordered state law enforcement officials to investigate the Broward and Palm Beach voting operation.
A spokesperson for Nelson bristled at Scotts legal maneuvering, telling CNN The goal here is to see that all the votes in Florida are counted and counted accurately. Rick Scotts action appears to be politically motivated and borne out of desperation.
Video: Rick Scott alleges rampant fraud in Florida
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Senator elect Rick Scott sued Broward County and Palm Beach County election officials Thursday night alleging there could be rampant fraud in the counties ballot-counting process
Video: Turnout was key to Florida election results
As ballots were still being counted in Palm Beach and Broward counties, the gap closed between Rick Scott and Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson (pictured)
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On Thursday night, President Trump tweeeted, without evidence, that “law enforcement is looking into another big corruption scandal having to do with Election Fraud in #Broward and Palm Beach. Florida voted for Rick Scott!” Both counties are Democratic strongholds.
If the gap between candidates is half a percentage point or less, the state is mandated to conduct a machine recount. Heres a timeline of the recount process, according to the Florida secretary of state.
Each Florida county has a canvassing board which oversees elections in that county. The first unofficial returns from county canvassing boards are due to the secretary of state and Division of Elections by Saturday, Nov. 10. If the candidates are within half a percentage point or less on that date, the state is mandated to conduct a machine recount. As of Thursday, the margins between Scott and Nelson and between DeSantis and Gillum are each under half a percentage point.
Meanwhile, Republican Ron DeSantis leads Democrat Andrew Gillum by about 0.5 percentage point in the widely followed gubernatorial race. While the ending margin could fall into recount territory, the Democratic Tallahassee mayor has already conceded to the former GOP representative. NBC News declared DeSantis the apparent winner.
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In a machine recount, all completed ballots are re-fed through ballot-counting machines to try to confirm the original, unofficial counts.
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The machines must first be re-tested and re-calibrated to read and separate ballots with apparent over-votes, that is, the ballots in which the machines read that the voter may have selected more than one candidate, and undervotes, in which the machine does not register a vote on the ballot.
Video: Three big races in Florida could trigger recount
The testing of the machines has to be done in public. Ballots with apparent under- or over-votes are segregated, or “outstacked,” and placed in sealed containers. These outstacked ballots would be the ones critical in a manual recount.
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Video: Three big races in Florida could trigger recount
The second unofficial returns, which are the results of a machine recount, must be presented by Nov. 15. If the candidates are within one-quarter of one percentage point, the secretary of state must order a manual recount.
The manual recount is more complicated and time-consuming, as it involves counting each of the ballots by hand. County canvassing boards appoint counting teams to view ballots and determine the voters intent, which is by law “a clear indication on the ballot that a voter made a definite choice.”
But Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) is outraged that Florida election officials are going to double-check the results and make absolutely certain that the GOP won. As far as hes concerned, the whole thing is a plot by liberal-leaning Broward County election officials to steal the election — and he expounded on why he believes this in a six-part thread on Twitter:
Each party and each candidate are allowed to have observers in the room, and those representatives can object to decisions on individual ballots, but cant otherwise interfere.
The media and the public may view the proceedings from outside the recount location, in an area designated by the canvassing board.
The official returns are due by Nov. 18. The Elections Canvassing Commission will be meeting to certify the official returns for federal, state, and multi-county offices at 9 a.m. on Nov. 20 at the Florida Capitol in Tallahassee. The Elections Canvassing Commission consists of the governor — which is Scott — and two Cabinet members appointed by Scott.