Florida Republicans Rick Scott and Ron DeSantis would have increased their margins of victory Thursday if Broward County did not narrowly miss the 3 p.m. deadline to submit machine recount results for the state’s midterm elections.
The recount would have increased DeSantis’s lead over Democrat Andrew Gillum in the race for governor by 755 votes, while Scott’s lead could have been lifted by 779 votes. “We uploaded to the state two minutes late so the state has chosen not to use our machine recount results and they are going to use the first unofficial results as our second unofficial results,” said Elections worker Joe D’Alessandro. “There was a co-mingling of ballots and that we did not correctly handle the ballot.”
Conservative critics alleged that Broward election officials completed the recount in time but may have purposely submitted the results too late to keep the official tally narrower, in favor of the Democratic candidates.
Media should not be uncritically amplifying this fairy tale that BROWARD – which had results 15 minutes before the deadline – just totally accidentally submitted two minutes late and whoops too bad 779 net votes for Rick Scott were lost.
— Phil Kerpen (@kerpen) November 16, 2018
Which recount? The one where Rick Scott gained votes in heavily Democrat counties Hillsborough and Broward and officials purposely turned it in late so it wouldn’t count? That one? #hacks https://t.co/X83cpfK9FX
— Meech (@michi83) November 16, 2018
A local reporter for the New York Times confirms that the county “finished on time,” but the election workers claimed they submitted late because of “unfamiliarity with the state website.”
In today's case of believe-it-or-not, Broward's recount results were filed 2 minutes late to the state's website and so they did not count. They finished on time but the data did not transmit in time due to unfamiliarity with the state website. 13/
— Patricia Mazzei (@PatriciaMazzei) November 15, 2018
The county’s Elections Supervisor Brenda Snipes snapped at reporters Tuesday, assuring them that Broward would not miss the deadline. “We will complete the recount,” she vowed. “There has never been a deadline we have missed.”
Election offices across Florida will now hold a hand count at a bare minimum of almost 54,000 ballots in the U.S. Senate race. A survey of 64 of Florida’s 67 counties put the number of overvotes and undervotes Thursday evening at 53,769 ballots in the U.S. Senate race between incumbent Nelson and Scott.
In an overvote, a voter picks more than one choice for the same race. With an undervote, the voter doesn’t pick a choice in a race. Florida’s secretary of state has ordered a manual recount in the state’s hotly contested U.S. Senate race. Department of State spokeswoman Sarah Revell said in a news release Thursday evening that unofficial returns from a machine recount had triggered a second recount in the Senate race and the state agriculture commissioner’s race.
The release said the results of the manual recounts are due by noon Sunday. Unofficial recount results on the secretary of state’s website show Republican Gov. Rick Scott with a .15 percentage point lead over Democratic incumbent U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson. State law requires a hand recount of races with margins of 0.25 percentage points or less.
Counties have until Sunday to inspect the ballots that did not record a vote when put through the machines. Those ballots are re-examined to see whether the voter skipped the race or marked the ballot in a way that the machines cannot read but can be deciphered.
The election will be certified Tuesday.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.