Sunshine State Showdown

election integrity
Photo credit: WhoWhatWhy
Reading Time: 2 minutes

“Now that this campaign’s behind us,” Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) said Tuesday night when he claimed victory in his hotly contested Senate race, “that’s where we’re going to leave it.”

Not so fast.

Gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum (D) and incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson (D) are gearing up for a recount.

As votes continue to be counted from the southeast of the state, a Democratic stronghold, the margin that Scott holds over Nelson has slowly evaporated. At the time of his victory speech, Scott was projected to win by about 57,000 votes. That lead is now down to 15,000.

As of Friday, Nelson trails Scott by 0.18 percent. In Florida, any race within 0.5 percent triggers an automatic recount. Furthermore, any race within 0.25 percent triggers an automatic recount by hand.

What are the Democrats’ chances for a close win following the recount? It is unlikely, but possible. Between 2000 and 2015, three of the nation’s 27 recounts resulted in changed outcomes (Minnesota’s Senate race in 2008, Vermont’s auditor race in 2006, and Washington’s gubernatorial race in 2004).

However, as Democrats will point out, the average swing of a recount is 0.2 percent, which would be enough to change the outcome in Florida’s Senate race. Additionally, the largest vote change in a recount occurred in the Sunshine State, back in 2000.

“The outcome is currently unknown,” Nelson’s election attorney, Marc Elias, said, “but I would rather be Nelson than Scott.”

Scott has fired back. During a news conference late Thursday, Scott proclaimed, “I will not sit idly by while unethical liberals try to steal this election from the great people of Florida.”

Scott later appeared on Sean Hannity’s program on Fox News. At the end of the interview, Hannity bemoaned that “somebody needs to go to jail” while Scott nodded and appears to have said “Yep” in agreement.

Other prominent conservative media outlets and Republican politicians swarmed to Scott’s defense.  

“Law Enforcement is looking into another big corruption scandal having to do with Election Fraud in #Broward and Palm Beach,” President Donald Trump tweeted. “Florida voted for Rick Scott!”

Former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani quickly seized on the fact that Elias, the election attorney for Nelson, also performed legal work for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign. Giuliani tweeted “Hillary’s lawyers trying to steal Florida election.”

More updates to come.

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