‘Laughingstock’: Florida starts ‘first ever statewide’ hand recount in Senate, Ag Commissioner races

DCNFEvie Fordham, DCNF

Florida ordered a hand recount in the state’s tight Senate and agriculture commissioner races Thursday afternoon on the same day a district judge called the state a “laughingstock” for its complicated elections process.

(Image: screenshot)

The recount is the first ever statewide recount done by hand, according to The Miami Herald.

Republican Senate candidate Gov. Rick Scott had a lead of 0.15 percent over Democratic incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson, The Associated Press reported.

U.S. District Judge Mark Walker presided over a handful of lawsuits Nelson brought alleging problems with the election process.

“We have been the laughingstock of the world, election after election, and we chose not to fix this,” Walker said in the ruling, which he handed down on the same afternoon that Florida’s Palm Beach County missed the machine recount deadline at 3 p.m. Thursday.

Manual recounts occur if the difference in votes is within 0.25 percent, according to The Miami Herald.

Earlier on Thursday morning, however, Walker, an Obama appointee, had granted 4,000 Florida voters an extension, which would give them until 5 p.m. Saturday to verify whether their mail-in and provisional ballots were rejected for signature mismatches.

Palm Beach missed the Thursday afternoon deadline despite what its elections supervisor called a “heroic effort,” reported Treasure Coast Newspapers.

Palm Beach was reportedly missing ballots for the machine recount for Florida’s Senate and governor races on Thursday afternoon.

Walker criticized Florida leaders including Palm Beach officials and Florida state lawmakers Thursday, reported the AP. He blamed the Florida Legislature for passing what he said was a recount law that may not accord with the Supreme Court’s decision on Bush v. Gore in 2000, according to the AP.

Walker has been in the spotlight for ruling against Republican Florida governor and Senate hopeful Rick Scott’s policies before. Walker decided in March that Scott and his cabinet had to replace Florida’s 150-year-old voting rights restoration process for felons, reported the Tampa Bay Times. That led to a state referendum that restored voting rights to nearly 1.5 million convicted felons on Nov. 6.

Both Florida Sens. Nelson and Marco Rubio, a Republican, recommended Walker to the federal bench in 2012, according to The Miami Herald.

Scott’s margin over Nelson makes it “mathematically impossible” for the Democrat to regain the seat, Scott campaign spokesman Chris Hartline told The Daily Caller News Foundation.

Scott traveled to Washington, D.C., Wednesday to attend the Senate’s freshman orientation.

Another high-profile Florida race is also going through a recount after Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum withdrew his concession to Republican candidate Ron DeSantis Saturday.

President Donald Trump demanded that Florida call the races for Scott and DeSantis on Twitter Monday.

“The Florida Election should be called in favor of Rick Scott and Ron DeSantis in that large numbers of new ballots showed up out of nowhere, and many ballots are missing or forged. An honest vote count is no longer possible-ballots massively infected. Must go with Election Night!” Trump wrote on Twitter.

Follow Evie on Twitter @eviefordham.

Send tips to evie@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.

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