Florida will hold a machine recount of votes in its neck-and-neck races for the U.S. Senate and governor, officials said on Saturday, setting up a days-long wait for closure in two of the most closely-watched contests of the midterm elections.
Results of the recount are due by 3 p.m. (2000 GMT) Thursday for the two races, which along with those for governor in Georgia and for the U.S. Senate in Arizona, are the most high-profile contests still undecided after Tuesday’s vote.
The drama echoed the 2000 presidential vote recount that took place in Florida, with both sides alleging foul play and sending teams of lawyers to the Sunshine State.
In Florida’s election for the U.S. Senate, Republican Governor Rick Scott had seen his lead narrow over incumbent Democratic U.S. Senator Bill Nelson to about 12,500 votes, or 0.15 percent, by Saturday evening.
Scott urged every sheriff in the state to watch for any violations during the recount process and to take appropriate actions.
“We will not let unethical liberals steal this election!” Scott wrote on Twitter. “It’s time Senator Nelson accepts these results and allows the state of Florida to move forward to a better future.”
Nelson said his campaign would continue taking action to ensure every vote is counted without interference or efforts to undermine the democratic process.
“We believe when every legal ballot is counted we’ll win this election,” Nelson said in a statement.
In the gubernatorial contest, Republican Ron DeSantis’ lead over Democrat Andrew Gillum winnowed to about 33,700 votes, or 0.41 percent.
DeSantis said in a video statement that the results were “clear and unambiguous, just as they were on election night,” and that he was honored by the trust Floridians placed in him.
“It is important that everyone involved in the election process strictly adhere to the rule of law which is the foundation for our nation,” DeSantis said.
Gillum, who is trying become Florida’s first African-American governor, told reporters his team has organized a cadre of hundreds of volunteers and lawyers to move across the state and fight against voter suppression and for a fair count.
“Let me say clearly: I am replacing my words of concession with an uncompromised and unapologetic call that we count every vote,” Gillum said at a news conference.