Florida Election Results: State Struggles With Recount Effort as Thursday Deadline Looms

Florida Governor Rick Scott, the GOP candidate running to unseat incumbent Democratic Senator Bill Nelson, will reportedly recuse himself from overseeing the results of his own election.

Multiple outlets reported that Scott's legal counsel informed U.S. District Judge Mark Walker Wednesday morning that the governor would not play a role in certifying the state's official election results pending the completion of a statewide recount. The governor, along with two of his cabinet members, would typically approve the results of Florida's elections. Scott also recused himself in 2014 when he ran for re-election.

Because Scott is still governor and oversees the Florida Department of State, the agency responsible for handling elections, Nelson had previously called on Scott to recuse himself from "any role" in the recount process.

"Given his efforts to undermine the votes of Floridians, this is the only way that we can ensure that the people's votes are protected," Nelson said in a video statement on Monday. Nelson claimed Scott was "using his power as governor to try to undermine the voting process" and that his recent claims of voter fraud—made without evidence—signified that Scott "cannot oversee this process in a fair and impartial way."

As the recount is underway in Florida, machine malfunctions, lawsuits and claims of fraud have cast doubts over whether some counties will finish by the required Thursday deadline.

The recount effort for three statewide races, including the race for governor and U.S. senator, must be completed by Thursday at 3 p.m. If counties fail to provide their recount results to the state by that time, then the previously reported vote totals will stand.

Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher said Tuesday night that some of the county's machines involved in the recount process had overheated, resulting in more than 174,000 ballots that must be recounted again. Bucher told multiple news outlets that the county flew in mechanics to work on the machines.

Prior to the machine malfunctions on Tuesday, a Florida judge extended the county's deadline to finish the recount process from Thursday to November 20. Also on Tuesday, Nelson's campaign said it filed a federal lawsuit in conjunction with the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee seeking to extend the deadline for all of the state's 67 counties. The campaign said it sought to allow local elections officials "the time they say is needed to finish a legally mandated and accurate recount."

Broward County Supervisor of Elections Brenda Snipes, the woman at the center of Broward County's recent election issues, has told reporters the county is still on schedule to complete its recount by the Thursday afternoon deadline.

Despite the ongoing recount and no official results, Scott was in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday with GOP senator-elects for orientation on the new session of Congress that will begin in January.

Rick Scott Recuses Himself From Overseeing Results of Own Senate Race
Florida Governor Rick Scott and his wife, Ann Scott, along with their daughters, Jordan Scott (far left) and Alison Guimard (far right), take to the stage during Scott’s election night party at the LaPlaya Beach & Golf Resort, in Naples, Florida, on November 6. Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Nelson was just 0.15 percent behind Scott prior to the recount. Florida law requires a machine recount to occur for any vote margin below 0.50 percent. It's likely the race will head to a mandated hand recount after the machine recount, assuming the vote margin remains within 0.25 percent. The hand recount would then be required to be finished by Sunday at noon.

Republicans like Scott, Florida GOP Senator Marco Rubio and President Donald Trump have alleged "rampant fraud" has taken place at the hands of local election officials and Democrats since election night last week. While the vote counting process in Broward and Palm Beach counties appeared to be unorganized leading up to the recount, there has been no evidence that ballots had been fraudulently counted. More claims of fraud were levied by the Republican lawmakers as the vote margin continued to close in on the state's Senate and gubernatorial races. The reason for the gap closing was due to the ongoing counting of early voting, vote-by-mail, provisional and overseas military ballots.

A Florida judge ruled last week that no wrongdoing had been done. Scott asked the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) to investigate his allegations of fraud, but neither the department nor the State Department did so because no credible criminal allegations had been made, according to an FDLE spokeswoman who had spoken with Newsweek at the time. A separate judge did, however, rule that Snipes violated the state's constitution and public records laws by not publicly disclosing how many ballots the county had yet to finish counting in the days after election night.

The Florida governor's race between Democrat Andrew Gillum and Republican Ron DeSantis, though more contentious on the campaign trail, had not seen the same type of legal battle play out over the recount effort. Prior to the recount, Gillum trailed DeSantis by 0.41 percent.

Florida Election Results: State Struggles With Recount Effort as Thursday Deadline Looms | U.S.