Florida’s hotly contested U.S. Senate race headed for hand recount on Thursday with the results still too close to call, after a machine recount.
The Miami Herald said the hand recount was unprecedented in the state. It followed five days of machine recount of more than 8.3 million votes cast in the November 6 election.
Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson trailed his Republican challenger, Florida Governor Rick Scott, by about 12,600 votes, or 0.15 percent of the more than 8 million ballots cast following an electronic recount.
According to the state law, the razor-thin margin automatically triggers a manual recount.
Miami Herald said Secretary of State Ken Detzner ordered hand recounts Thursday afternoon.
There will also be hand recount to determine winner of the race for agriculture commissioner between Nicole “Nikki” Fried and Matt Caldwell.
The State secretary’s order gives canvassing boards in the 67 counties three days to pore over thousands of ballots that were rejected by machines because of “overvotes” — when 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.
If the voter’s intentions are clear on review by a person, the ballot could be counted.
It’s not entirely clear how many such overvotes and undervotes exist in the U. S. Senate race. A Herald/Times analysis of state and county data shows the number could be between 35,000 and 118,000.
The Herald reported that the determination on whether any of those ballots will count — 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.