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Gillum Back in the Governor's Hunt; Caldwell Slips behind Fried in Ag Race

November 8, 2018 - 4:45pm
Andrew Gillum, Nikki Fried and Matt Caldwell
Andrew Gillum, Nikki Fried and Matt Caldwell

Potential recounts in Florida grew Thursday, with the governor’s race entering the range for an automatic recount two days after Democrat Andrew Gillum conceded to Republican opponent Ron DeSantis.

The race for state agriculture commissioner swung in favor of Democrat Nikki Fried over state Rep. Matt Caldwell, who declared victory on Tuesday.

And Sen. Bill Nelson’s recount lawyer predicted Thursday morning that the Democratic incumbent would emerge the victor over Gov. Rick Scott as ballots continue to be examined, particularly in heavily Democratic Palm Beach and Broward counties, in advance of an expected recount coming into play this weekend.

Nelson’s attorney Marc Elias, who has been involved in a number of recounts around the country, pointed to the on-going count of provisional ballots and ballots that may not have been properly scanned in South Florida.

The tabulation of those votes will continue to narrow Scott’s razor-thin lead over Nelson, Elias predicted. Scott’s election night 56,000 victory over Nelson shrank to just over 17,000 votes --- within the .25 percent margin that sparks a manual recount --- by Thursday afternoon.

“At this point I’m not prepared to say Sen. Nelson will be in the lead going into the recount, although I would say it’s a jump ball,” Elias said in a conference call with reporters Thursday.

As Nelson’s legal team pushed forward, Scott’s campaign quickly derided Elias as a hired gun” seeking to “steal” an election Nelson “already lost.”

Yet, in a sign each side is digging in for a recount battle, both campaigns have requested the names of individuals that cast provisional ballots. Voters who cast provisional ballots had until 5 p.m. Thursday to provide verify their signatures with local elections officials, but the verification is not required.

County election canvassing boards, which determine whether the provisional ballots can be counted, have until noon Saturday to submit unofficial results to the state Division of Elections.

Contests with a margin of 0.5 percent or less qualify for an automatic machine recount by every county elections office involved in the contest. Hand recounts are required if the margin is .25 percent or less.

“At the end of the day, when all eligible voters have their votes counted and counted accurately, the fundamental truth that we’re going to learn is that more voters voted for Sen. Nelson than voted for Gov. Scott,” Elias said. “And there isn’t anything that I am going to be able to do about that. There isn’t anything that Gov. Scott and his millions of dollars are going to be able to do or Secretary (of State Ken) Detzner will be able to do about that.”

Gillum’s campaign issued a press release Thursday indicating it was ready to gear up for a possible recount, even though the Tallahassee mayor conceded the governor’s race Tuesday to DeSantis, a former congressman who had the support of President Donald Trump.

"On Tuesday night, the Gillum for Governor campaign operated with the best information available about the number of outstanding ballots left to count,” the Gillum campaign statement said. “Since that time, it has become clear there are many more uncounted ballots than was originally reported. Our campaign, along with our attorney Barry Richard, is monitoring the situation closely and is ready for any outcome, including a state-mandated recount.”

On Thursday, the governor’s race had narrowed to less than 40,000 votes, putting it into the margin requiring an automatic machine recount.

Machine recounts are to be completed by 3 p.m. on Nov. 15.

County canvassing boards must submit official returns from manual recounts to the state by noon on Nov. 18. In a manual recount, canvassing boards examine “undervotes” and “overvotes” on ballots rejected by voting machines.

The Florida Elections Canvassing Commission --- comprised of Scott and two Cabinet members --- is slated to meet Nov. 20 at 9 a.m. to certify the election results.

The League of Women Voters of Florida urged provisional voters to “cure their ballot,” noting that campaign requests for the names of provisional voters violates Florida's Constitution, according to election officials.

"The LWV has long advocated for a thorough and accurate process of counting provisional ballots. All ballots must be counted,” League President Patricia Brigham said in a release Thursday. “We will be monitoring closely and taking further action as needed if necessary."

In addition to the senatorial contest, recounts are expected in the state’s agriculture commissioner race and three state legislative races: Senate District 18 in Hillsborough County, in which Democratic challenger Janet Cruz leads incumbent Republican Dana Young; House District 26 in Volusia County, in which Republican Elizabeth Fetterhoff is ahead of incumbent Democrat Patrick Henry; and House District 89 in Palm Beach County, where Republican Mike Caruso held the lead over Democrat Jim Bonfiglio.

Nelson's lawyer predicted the recounts would benefit other Democratic candidates as well as the incumbent senator.

“I am confident, based on the experience in virtually every state including some pretty red states, that provisional ballots, when they are counted, are going to break Democratic,” Elias said.

In the agriculture commissioner contest, Fried --- who had trailed Caldwell by 4,000 votes on election night --- held a 500-vote lead over Caldwell Thursday afternoon.

Fried, an attorney from Fort Lauderdale who lobbied for medical marijuana, is the one Democratic Cabinet candidate who did not concede as the unofficial election results were posted Tuesday night.

“We're confident that by Saturday, when final results are certified, our lead will have grown, and the voters’ choice in the race for Agriculture Commissioner will be clear,” Fried said in a statement Thursday.

Elias said he expects vote totals to keep changing in Palm Beach and Broward counties, where “significant” numbers of vote-by-mail ballots continue to be counted. The lawyer said Miami-Dade County could face legal action regarding the rejection of minority voters’ mail-in ballots, if disparities are identified.

 “We’re not going to stand by and allow people to be disenfranchised due to administrative processes that disadvantaged minority voters,” Elias said.

Before Elias’ press call was completed, Scott’s campaign issued a release condemning Nelson and his lawyer.

“This morning, Bill Nelson is introducing the people of Florida to Marc Elias, a hired gun from Washington, D.C. who will try to win an election for Nelson that Nelson has already lost,” the release stated.

“It is sad and embarrassing that Bill Nelson would resort to these low tactics after the voters have clearly spoken,” Scott’s campaign statement continued. “Maybe next, he'll start ranting that Russians stole the election from him.”

But Elias told reporters there is no winner in the Senate race, yet.

“I think it is fair to say right now that the results of the 2018 Senate election are unknown, and you and the election officials should treat it as such,” Elias said.

Elias said he expects the margin between Scott and Nelson to stand at about 5,000 votes --- out of at least 8.15 million votes cast statewide --- by Saturday's mid-day deadline.

“We know in Palm Beach County there are in excess of 10,000 that are going to be reviewed as part of the canvas process because they have stray marks or other write-ins that kept them from being properly scanned and counted,” Elias said. “I expect, based on past experience, that a substantial number of those will end up counted and, given how Palm Beach County as a whole voted, I suspect that will increase Sen. Nelson’s vote share.”


I hope they all go to a manual recount for every vote, over seen by each County's canvassing board. It would seem to be the fairest outcome for everybody involved. I don't really care which party wins. It just needs to be fair and every vote needs to be counted. Once the dust settles, fire that fool in Broward.

I thought we were a nation of laws!! This illegal activity must be punished. Why must I rush from work to make it to my polling facilities by 7pm but these folks can submit votes says after!! Ridiculous, I hope someone goes to jail for all this!

This "1/2 per cent or less" election may well be the last gasp of single-party Republican rule in Florida. The Dems should probably continue their electioneering full-time and focus on turning the tide in the Florida House and Senate.

Tried and failed in 2000. Trying again now...with the help of voter fraud purveyors in Broward and Palm Beach Counties.

Every vote deserves to be counted and recounted. Hell, I'd be more concerned about how the 92% of Repub Supervisors' of Election continue to have all of these races at a level of 1% or less in Florida for 4 or more voting cycles? It is a phenomenon that is repeated nowhere else in the country. Makes you wonder how they always seem to pull ahead in the end, and always by only 1% or less. To say it is an outlier nationally would be an understatement of epic proportions... I hope the FDLE oversees the whole process.

This is what 250,000 Escapist Puerto Ricans can do to a State

If Pam Bondi allows the crooked Supervisors of Elections in Broward and Palm Beach Counties to steal the election then Trump will pick fat *** Chris Christie for the USAttorney General. If any one reading this knows Pam you better call your girl and tell her!!!

Tell her what she is an idiot and a criminal

LOL!!! She has lost almost all her cases to the US and Florida Supreme Court trying to take people's rights...…And refused to protect Florida investors from Trump's scams like TrumpU, etc for a $25k donation. ……….And did she ever get those rape kits processed as I haven't heard about a lot of arrests modern tech allows now to put the rapist behind bars, but Bondi won't do it obviously.

By her record, Bondi is definitely a "fake" attorney general ... but she is a pet of the Trumpnut-In-Chief!

Leave it the Republicans to muck it all up. They can’t win an election without cheating or suppressing votes. I really hope this time we get a fair election. It’s our right just like the 2nd amendment is a right.

Cheating, suppressing votes, AND gerrymandering! (Does ANYONE really believe that George W. Bush "won Florida fair-and-square" in 2000?)

In Alabama, during the 2002 Gubernatorial election, we had a race flip from blue to red after 6,000 votes were found to have been "entered into the wrong column." When stuff like this happens the losing candidate and party always feel cheated. But, because of Bush v. Gore, Scott and Nelson have had attorneys on site since yesterday at several locations. The recount is going to happen with plenty of Republican eyes on it, and obviously Republicans control the state government in Florida. Fraud and manipulation can happen anywhere, and I understand why this drives people crazy. Why does this only happen in close races and why are Republicans always the ones hurt by it? 1. When an election isn't close and people concede early they don't end up counting provisional ballots or wading through all the absentee, mail-in, and military ballots. They will do the math, and if it is impossible, or highly improbable, (say a Democrat won and the county is very blue) they stop counting. 2. Although it isn't an always true adage, Democrats in most states and places (especially urban areas) are much more likely to use absentee ballots, vote by mail, or cast a provisional ballot. Dems always seem to suck at following instructions or keeping their voter registration updated, so that's why so many will claim "suppression" when forced to cast a provisional ballot because their ID expired 10 years ago, or they didn't update their address after moving three times. So when you have a close race, and the Republican is winning, especially when you have a lot of urban areas, it is very common for them to have to count all the absentee, by mail, and provisional ballots because they know there is a good chance the results will actually be materially impacted. Georgia voters just saw this happen in GA-06. Handel was winning at 2am the day after the election, but Dekalb and Cobb hadn't counted their absentee ballots. Once they did, Handel fell behind and subsequently lost. Kemp's office has supervision, so if there was something fucky going on they'd be on top of it. I understand the conspiratorial minded will claim fraud or manipulation, and God knows how many times it used to happen in the past, but that's why a lot of places that have had Republican leadership for awhile like Florida have put processes in place to oversee this crap. I'm confident that Scott is still going to pull it out. He may end up only winning by the skin of his teeth, but he did a good job of reaching out to minority voters and I think the recount and final tabulation of absentee, acceptable provisional ballots, etc will show he won. It will probably end up in court, but the Republicans are prepared for this - - especially in Florida. I don't blame people for being worried or pissed, but the days of being able to easily steal an election are largely behind us. There are good processes and monitoring in place in states like Florida, Arizona, and Georgia. Kemp is still going to win. Scott and DeSantis are still going to win, and McSally is still going to win. It may be closer than any of us wanted, but that's how elections go sometimes. View All Quotes

How do you figure the Democrats benefit? The last Florida elections it all went to the Republicans. The Republicans are always looking for ways to cheat the system. If they were truly the god fearing people they CLAIM to be we wouldn’t see this nonsense. Scott is a thief, ruined our environment and was a terrible governor why people would want him another 6 years blows my mind. He should just crawl under the rock he came from

You really live in an upside down world. Broward County in 2000 during the recount created votes by assuming that if one punched card had votes for a democrat on one unrelated race, that they must have intended to vote for Gore even there was not even a dimple on the card. It was a policy the Democrats going over the ballots put in place over the objections of the lone republican with them. It’s called manufacturing votes and they will try this nonsense again.

Super of elections in Broward is a Jeb Bush appointee.

As if he could have appointed anyone but a Democrat without lefties screeching from the treetops about partisan gerrymandering.

Nope that doesn't sound questionable at all!

Demorat's can't win here without fraud which disenfranchises Republicans votes.

The ginal tally won’t come in intill the thieves know how maany they need. Chad, cook, and Coward Counties. Go figure.

Obviously fraud is involved. Finding ballots in a worker's car???

Any ballots for which there is no chain of custody cannot be considered valid. But I’m sure they will be anyway. More manufacturing of votes.

I wonder if that's what's going to happen up here with S. Abrams

Recounts rarely change outcome of elections . Given the closeness of all the races it's wise to make sure the results are validated . Heavy volume and lengthy ballot in Palm Beach and Broward contributed to this mess but there is really no excuse for this type of delay in counting ALL the votes .

Clearly the Supervisors of Elections in Broward and Palm Beach Counties are utterly incompetent!! There is no excuse that their election operations are faulty election after election!! The fraud in these counties is rampant and likely due to the Demoncrats in control!!

Why is it that Palm Beach and Broward counties always have voting and ballot issues? Fraud

Why do they always have voting ballot issues you ask? The supervisors of elections are Democrats. Could that be it?

They have taken over if you haven't been paying attention. Look at who runs our schools, and almost all social programs.

It’s just very time-consuming to read enough headstones to effect a desired outcome.

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