As officials began a manual recount in Broward County, one of Bill Nelson's last hopes seemed on the verge of vanishing.

In a part of the county overlapping with Florida's 24th Congressional District, officials counted many ballots on which, it appears, voters picked a candidate for governor but not one for senator.

Ballots in the rest of the county registered "undervotes" for the senate race at a rate of about 3.5 percent.

Undervotes in District 24 — 30 precincts in the Hollywood area — were nearly three times that, at a rate of 10 percent.

While the Nelson camp argued that the difference might come from a machine issue, Broward's machine recount didn't move the needle, and pundits assumed the discrepancy came from poor ballot design.

The Times reached out to more than 3,500 registered voters in those precincts, to see what they thought. Of some 40 responses, most voted with no issue. But several recalled almost missing the Senate race box.

• Rochelle Lessner, a retired lawyer in Hollywood, voted early by mail, she said.

"It was very confusing. When my husband opened his ballot, his first comment was, where is the senate race," said Lessner, 63. "Of course we found it, but not everyone would."

• Jason Englund, 29, said he voted for governor. He was about to seal his absentee ballot when he realized he skipped a race.

"I scoured through the ballot and found I had not selected a senate candidate," he said. "I guess I'm not the only one who had problems locating it."

• Joi Leamons, 30, said she remembered voting for governor but not senator. "I don't remember seeing the senate question. I did not skip any questions."

• Laura Ranelli, 72, said the Senate race "was difficult to locate but I found it after searching through the ballot."

"The Senate race was VERY easy to overlook," wrote Rebecca Powell, 31. "That was messed up."

• Jorge Alba, 32 said his 74-year-old mother had "some issues with the column on the left." That's where, in the 24th, the Scott/Nelson contest was the only race to follow a lengthy column of instructions. The governor box was at the top of the next column.

• Anasatasia Vassell, 31 of West Park, wrote, "I had to look for Bill Nelson on the ballot. I thought the governor and senator would be next to each other but they weren't."

Though it's possible that voters' memories aren't perfect more than a week after election day, many of these accounts match up.

In short, many voters said the Senate race, alone in the bottom corner of the page, forced them to take a second look to find. Nelson hoped his missed votes in Broward were a machine issue. If they're just missing, he is out of luck.