An unprecedented statewide hand recount is now under way in the Sunshine State, further extending a high-stakes, partisan battle over every last vote in Florida’s crucial U.S. Senate race.
Following a five-day machine recount of the more than 8.3 million votes cast in the Nov. 6 elections, Secretary of State Ken Detzner ordered hand recounts Thursday afternoon in the race between U.S. Sen Bill Nelson and Gov. Rick Scott, and also the race for agriculture commissioner between Nicole “Nikki” Fried and Matt Caldwell.
The order gives canvassing boards in the state’s 67 counties three days to pore over thousands of ballots that were rejected by machines because of “overvotes” — a voter appears to have chosen more than one candidate in a race — or “undervotes,” in which a voter appears to have skipped a race altogether. With the help of state guidelines, the canvassing boards, which are allowed to enlist the help of volunteers, will try to determine how these voters intended to vote.
It’s not entirely clear how many such overvotes and undervotes exist in the U. S. Senate race. A Times/Herald analysis of state and county data shows the number could be between 35,000 and 118,000 But the determination on how those ballots were cast — and the ability of the state’s elections supervisors to get through all the ballots — could go a long way toward deciding whether Nelson is reelected or Scott ascends from governor to U.S. Senator.