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Closer and closer: Scott leads by .18 percent, DeSantis by .44

Some counties will send first unofficial counts to the Secretary of State on Friday.
Gov. Rick Scott appeared on Fox News Thursday night.
Gov. Rick Scott appeared on Fox News Thursday night.
Published Nov. 9, 2018|Updated Nov. 9, 2018

Three statewide elections in Florida are all close enough to require machine recounts, and two of them would require hand recounts of ballots, based on the latest results posted by the state Friday.

With Broward still counting early and mail ballots and Palm Beach County still counting mail ballots, Gov. Rick Scott holds a lead of .18 percent over Sen. Bill Nelson, or 15,074 votes.

Republican Ron DeSantis holds a lead of .44 percent over Democrat Andrew Gillum in the election for governor, or 36,211 votes.

Democrat Nikki Fried clings to a lead of .04 percent over Republican Matt Caldwell in the race for the Cabinet post of agriculture commissioner, or 2,915 votes.

Scott, President Donald Trump, Sen. Marco Rubio and Republican National Committee chairwoman Ronna McDaniel all took to Twitter to blast the performance of Broward Supervisor of Elections Brenda Snipes.

Standing on the steps of the Governor's Mansion Thursday night, Scott accused Snipes and Palm Beach election supervisor Susan Bucher, both Democrats, of trying to steal the election.

He cited past missteps by Snipes, all of them widely reported, but offered no evidence of election fraud, and ordered the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to investigate Snipes.

FDLE Commissioner Rick Swearingen was personally chosen by Scott in 2015, even though the appointment is subject to approval by the three elected Cabinet members.

Without elaboration, Scott told reporters: "I am considering every single legal option available."

Scott can suspend Snipes or Bucher from office, but he has to cite evidence of malfeasance, misfeasance, neglect of duty or incompetence. If that happens, Scott would appoint an interim elections supervisor.

Scott appeared on Sean Hannity's show on Fox Thursday night. Scott essentially repeated the same points he made earlier at the Governor's Mansion, and Hannity told Scott: "It is obviously corrupt. Obviously laws were broken … You won this race hands down. This is a disgrace."

Across the state, county canvassing boards will meet Friday to continue counting and rejecting provisional ballots. All counties have until noon Saturday to submit their first unofficial returns to Secretary of State Ken Detzner, who decides whether any or all of the three races meet the legal threshold for a machine recount.

Some counties are ready to start the machine recounts. In a conference call Thursday, they asked the state if they could begin the recounts now to save time.

'That's a great question," Division of Elections director Maria Matthews said. "The answer is no."


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