Nov. 11 (UPI) — Florida’s statewide recount began Sunday morning after a three-hour delay amid a series of technical glitches with Broward County’s counting machines, elections officials said.
One machine failed to register all ballots during a testing period, causing the delay, the South Florida Sun Sentinel newspaper reported.
Two counting machines that were expected to be delivered to Orlando for the recount were diverted to Broward County to assist with process there.
On Saturday, Florida’s secretary of state officially ordered machine recounts in three statewide elections — U.S. senator, governor and agriculture commissioner. Results in each race were within a half-percentage point, the threshold for triggering a machine recount.
County election officials were expected to report the results of the machine recount by 3 p.m. Thursday. If the results are within 0.25 percent, the state will order a hand recount to completed by noon Nov. 18.
The Senate race is within 0.15 percent — with Republican Gov. Rick Scott leading incumbent U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson by less than 13,000 votes out of more than 8 million votes cast — 4,098,107 to 4,085,545 — in Tuesday’s election.
In the race for governor, the margin is less than 34,000 votes or 0.41 percent. Republican Ron DeSantis, who resigned as a member of the U.S. House to run for governor, has 4,075,879 votes to Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum’s 4,4042,195.
Republicans blamed problems in Broward County on the design of the ballot there.
“The ballot was laid out in an incompetent fashion by the incompetent supervisor of elections,” Scott’s attorney, Bill Scherer, said.
“The ballot was laid out in an incompetent fashion by the incompetent supervisor of elections,” he said, referring to Broward County Supervisor of Elections Brenda Snipes.
Polling blog FiveThirtyEight questioned whether the position of the Senate race on the Broward County ballot — in the bottom left-hand corner of Page 1 — meant some voters skipped over the race. In Broward, some 26,060 fewer people casts votes for the Senate race compared to the governor’s race — a 3.7 percent difference.
All other counties had less than 0.8 percent difference in votes cast for the two races.
“People can and do make mistakes based on design,” Whitney Quesenbery, a ballot expert with the Center for Civic Design told the Sun Sentinel.
Nelson’s lawyer, Marc Elias, though, said he believes the machine counters may be to blame.
“I am pretty confident what you are going to see are markings that were not picked up by the machines or a calibration issue that was not registering that part of the ballot,” he said.
Meanwhile, in Arizona, Democrat Kirsten Sinema increased her lead over Republican Martha McSally in their Senate race to more than 30,000, or 1.43 percent on Sunday.
The Arizona Republic newspaper projected there were 260,000 ballots left to be counted in the state.
In Maricopa County, Sinema has a 44,000-vote lead where 1.2 million votes have been counted out of 2.1 million in the state.
Allen Cone contributed to this report.