By: Jake Stofan | Capitol News Service
November 8, 2018
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CNS) -- The Florida Secretary of State is telling election officials to prepare for a statewide recount. Six races are within the half percentage margin to trigger an automatic machine recount.
The governor’s race, US Senate, Commissioner of Agriculture, a state senate seat and two state house races all fall within the half percent margin.
An unknown number of outstanding early voting and vote-by-mail ballots have yet to be counted in Broward and Palm Beach Counties.
If the margins hold through 12 p.m. Saturday, elections supervisors will begin the statewide machine recount process.
“I just recommend that people are patient and trust your supervisors and their staffs are doing their job as best they can," said Leon County Supervisor of Elections Mark Earley.
The machine recount would end at 3 p.m. November 15.
If any races are within a quarter percentage point, a hand recount will then be ordered. If a hand recount is triggered, it would have to be completed by November 18 and results finalized by November 20.
Political experts are hopeful that any recount won’t be a repeat of the 2000 Presidential election.
“I'm hoping we learned from that lesson and that we won't have that," said FSU Political Science professor Dr. Carol Weissert. " I know we have a better voting system. We have better ways of counting now than we had then.”
However, the state is entering uncharted waters.
“This will be the first real statewide recount if we get that far that's ever occurred," said Florida State Association of Elections Supervisors President Ron Labasky.
Like Senator Bill Nelson, Andrew Gillum has lawyered up, hiring Barry Richard, who represented President George W. Bush in the 2000 recount.
“Everyone has the right to have their vote counted fairly and accurately and that’s what we’re involved in here," said Richard.
After the dust clears and results are certified, candidates have 10 days to contest the election in court. It's a very possible scenario in such tight races with such high stakes.