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Where Florida’s election recounts stand as deadline passes

Most of Florida's 67 counties finished machine vote recounts for the Senate and governor's races before Thursday’s deadline. The Senate race will go to a further recount by hand because Republican Gov. Rick Scott has a razor-thin lead over Democratic incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson. The NewsHour’s Dan Bush joins Judy Woodruff for an update.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    As we reported earlier, most Florida counties have finished the machine vote recount in three statewide elections today.

    In the Senate race, incumbent Democrat Bill Nelson trails Republican challenger Rick Scott by nearly 13,000 votes. That is still within the 0.25 percent that triggers a hand recount.

    The "NewsHour"'s digital politics editor, Dan Bush, has been in South Florida watching all this up close.

    And he joins me now.

    Hello to you, Dan.

    So, first of all, as we said earlier, it was just Palm Beach County that seemed to have missed the deadline. But now we're hearing it may have been Broward County as well. What do we know about that?

  • Dan Bush:

    That's right, Judy. We're just hearing reports now that Broward County missed the reporting deadline to finish the machine recount, which was 3:00 p.m. today, by about two minutes, which still means that 65 of Florida's 67 counties finished the machine recount on time.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    So let's talk about the Senate race.

    As we just said, it looks like the separation between Bill Nelson and Rick Scott is within that 0.25 percent margin, which triggers a hand recount. So what happens now?

  • Dan Bush:

    That's right, Judy.

    So the recount resulted in a — in an outcome that was under that 0.25 margin that you noted, a law put in place in the state after the 2000 election. That triggers the hand recount. That's starting tomorrow morning at 7:00 a.m. sharp.

    And an election official told me in Broward County a little while ago that it's supposed to start right on time, more or less, and the deadline for that is November 18, so just a couple of days for them to go through a universe of tens of thousands of votes, 42,000 everywhere in Florida, and then an additional set from Broward County of undervotes and overvotes.

    Those are votes where — ballots where voters either voted for multiple candidates in a single race or left it blank. Those are the votes that officials are going to be going through hand by hand in the next couple days.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    So, now, separately from this, Dan, there has been a lawsuit filed over provisional and mail-in ballots. Tell us where that stands.

  • Dan Bush:

    So, Democratic incumbent Senator Bill Nelson and the Florida Democratic Party filed a lawsuit in federal government challenging a state law that requires signatures on provisional ballots and mail-in ballots to match the signatures in state voter registration records, saying that it was unconstitutional, violated equal protection rights, and makes it harder for voters to vote.

    And a judge just this morning issued a narrow ruling, allowing the state to go back and review about 4,000 of these ballots to see whether or not they should be recounted. But Democrats had hoped for a broader ruling, potentially something that would strike down the existing state law or even require the state to automatically look at, you know, all of these votes.

    That didn't happen. So we will have to see where it goes from here. And as soon as the ruling came out, Republican Governor Rick Scott, running for the Senate seat in Florida, appealed the ruling. That's now going to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. We will see where it goes from there.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    So, now I want you to focus for just a moment on the governor's race, Republican Ron DeSantis, Democrat Andrew Gillum.

    Recount there as well. Where does that one stand?

  • Dan Bush:

    Yes.

    So, on the governor's side, DeSantis is still leading Gillum by about 34,000 votes, which is a 0.41 margin. So he didn't — Gillum wasn't able to close the gap enough to trigger a hand recount.

    We saw DeSantis just a little while ago saying that the results were clear. We're still waiting to hear from Gillum, but it appears that that race is where it is, and that DeSantis will be certified as the winner, perhaps as early as next week.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Now, Dan, we know you have been spending time there around the Broward County election supervisor's office.

    Tell us what's going on there. There have been protests outside. What is the scene there?

  • Dan Bush:

    So, inside, you have a couple of dozen election workers who in the last several days have been working around the clock to do this machine recount, to feed the ballots into the machines and let that process play out.

    Meanwhile, outside, there have been Republican protests, Democratic protests around this process. A lot of Republicans, Judy, that I spoke to, said — a lot of voters — said they don't trust these results. They feel that there was suspicious activity.

    They said that their view of the election is shaped by President Donald Trump, who has focused on Florida, and disparaged the recount process, called for it to be over before all of the votes were received.

    On the other side, you have Democrats saying that they don't believe these allegations of fraud, that they want all of the votes to be counted, and that the rules on the books as they stand now make it harder for people to vote.

    So you have two wildly different views of this election and whether or not the results should be trusted.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Well, political overlay always when these recounts happen, and — but a spotlight right there as they count these votes.

    Dan Bush, reporting for us from Florida, thank you.

  • Dan Bush:

    Thank you.

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