The Phoenix Flyer

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson’s recount attorney claims vote gains in recent days show Nelson can win; Recount could be called Saturday

By: - November 8, 2018 12:55 pm
Gillum and Nelson

Left: Democratic gubernatorial candidate, Tallahassee mayor Andrew Gillum. Right: Sen. Bill Nelson. Credit: Candidates’ campaign sites.

Recount logoWith Bill Nelson continuing to pick up votes in his U.S. Senate race against Rick Scott, an attorney hired by the Nelson campaign says he believes that the Florida Democrat will gather enough votes in the recount to retain his seat.

“I firmly believe at the end of this process Senator Nelson is going to prevail,” said Marc Elias, an attorney with the Washington D.C.-based law firm Perkins Coie, on a conference call with reporters on Thursday.

Since Scott declared himself the winner early Wednesday morning, Nelson has continued to pick up votes as counties continue their tallies. Thursday evening he was trailing by 15,102 votes, a margin of about .18 percent.

Florida law requires an automatic machine recount for any federal, state, or multicounty race that is separated by .5 percent. That determination will be made by noon on Saturday.

That machine recount is then due by November 15, and if the margin is at .25 percent or less, an automatic manual recount in all 67 counties would take place.

With more votes still coming in from Democratic-friendly Broward County, Elias believes that the Scott-Nelson race will fall within the .25 margin  by this Saturday. His optimism stems from what he says are a “significant amount of ballots” that have yet to be counted in Palm Beach and Broward counties, two Democratic strongholds,

More than 10,000 so-called “provisional ballots cast in Palm Beach County were not counted on Tuesday night, due to issues with voting registration or identification. By Florida law, the deadline for those voters to verify their ID or provide other documentation to the Supervisor of Elections office is at 5 p.m. this afternoon.

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

In Broward County, election workers continue to count ballots. Elections Supervisor Brenda Snipes has said she doesn’t know how many ballots remain uncounted there, according to media reports.

The South Florida Sun Sentinel reported today that of the ballots already counted in Broward, some 24,000 people voted for governor but did not cast a vote for U.S. Senate, a case of what is described as “under-voting.” The difference was nearly even between the Republican and Democratic candidates, the story reports.

Elias has successfully worked on other Democratic Senate recount contests, including Nevada’s Harry Reid in 1998, Washington’s Maria Cantwell in 2000, and Minnesota’s Al Franken in 2008.

The Scott campaign fired back before the call was even completed this morning, labeling Elias a “hired gun from Washington D.C. who will try to win an election for Nelson that Nelson has already lost.”

In its statement, titled, “Bill Nelson hires D.C. Lawyer to Steal Election,” the Scott campaign called it “sad and embarrassing that Bill Nelson would resort to these low tactics after the voters had clearly spoken. Maybe next, he’ll start ranting that Russians stole the election from him.”

Meanwhile, Andrew Gillum continues to pick up votes as well as the various counties continue to send their returns to the Division of Elections office. Gillum is now trails Republican Ron DeSantis by .52 percent, close to the .5 percent that would trigger an automatic machine recount.

Since he conceded the election on Tuesday, the Gillum campaign has been silent, but issued a statement Thursday morning.

“On Tuesday night, the Gillum for Governor campaign operated with the best information available about the number of outstanding ballots left to count,” said spokesperson Johanna Cervone. “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. Mayor Gillum started his campaign for the people, and we are committed to ensuring every single vote in Florida is counted.”


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Mitch Perry
Mitch Perry

Mitch Perry has covered politics and government in Florida for more than two decades. Most recently he is the former politics reporter for Bay News 9. He has also worked at Florida Politics, Creative Loafing and WMNF Radio in Tampa. He was also part of the original staff when the Florida Phoenix was created in 2018.