More than half of Florida counties begin recounts in senate, governor’s midterm races

An election worker verifies signatures on mail-in ballots for the midterm elections on November 6, 2018.

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An election worker verifies signatures on mail-in ballots for the midterm elections on November 6, 2018.

After a few early bumps, more than half of Florida's 67 counties began recounting votes Sunday in the razor-thin Senate and gubernatorial races, bringing back memories of the 2000 presidential fiasco.

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In the governors race, Democrat Andrew Gillum's campaign said Thursday it's readying for a possible recount. He conceded to Republican Ron DeSantis on Tuesday night, but retracted his concession on Saturday. Meanwhile, Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson has begun preparing for a potential hand recount in a race that is still too close to call against Republican Gov. Rick Scott.

Miami-Dade County elections officials say they've started recounting ballots from Tuesday's election.

Officials from the county's elections office confirmed Saturday evening that they've started a machine recount, which means they will load paper ballots into scanning machines. This could take days, considering there were some 800,000 ballots cast.

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The unofficial results show that Republican former U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis led Democratic Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum by less than 0.5 percentage points, which will require a machine recount of ballots.

In the Senate race, Republican Gov. Rick Scott's lead over Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson is less than 0.25 percentage points, which will require a hand recount of ballots from tabulation machines that couldn't determine which candidate got the vote.

The Florida secretary of state earlier Saturday ordered the recounts in the U.S. Senate and governor races, an unprecedented review of two major races in the state that took five weeks to decide the 2000 presidential election.

Nov. 15 is the deadline for each county to submit vote counts to the state.

A lawyer for Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson says the campaign is looking into whether vote-by-mail ballots handled by the same U.S. mail facility that processed explosive packages intended for Democratic leaders weren't delivered on time.

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Marc Elias says he's concerned about news reports that ballots in an Opa-locka postal facility may not have been delivered before the 7 p.m. Election Day deadline. Opa-locka is in Miami-Dade County, which tends to heavily support Democratic candidates.

Elias says, "I would hope that we can all agree, I would hope that even folks on the other side of the aisle would agree that no one should be disenfranchised because the postal service, for one reason or another, was unable to deliver ballots."

A 30-count indictment was handed up recently in Manhattan federal court against 56-year-old Cesar Sayoc of Plantation, Florida. Authorities say he sent improvised devices intended for numerous Democrats, critics of President Donald Trump and CNN. None of the devices exploded and no one was hurt.

Scott accused Nelson Sunday of wanting to count fraudulent ballots and votes by noncitizens.

"He is trying to commit fraud to win this election," Scott said on Fox News Sunday. "Bill Nelson's a sore loser. He's been in politics way too long."

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Scott's campaign has not provided any evidence so far to support the fraud allegations.