FLORIDA — Florida's Secretary of State has ordered a manual recount for the state's U.S. Senate and Commissioner of Agriculture races.
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According to a spokesperson from the Florida Dept. of State, the races met a "statutory thresold" to trigger the manual recount.
Meanwhile, a federal judge has denied a request to extend the approaching deadline for recounts in tight Florida races for the U.S Senate seat and Florida governor.
Chief U.S. District Judge Mark Walker's latest ruling relates to the 3 p.m. deadline for all 67 Florida counties to complete state-mandated machine recounts. Palm Beach County has already signaled to the state that it would not be able to complete their machine recount in time, citing aging ballot counting machines.
In his ruling, Walker expressed concern that some counties may not complete their work by the deadline. But he also cited a lack of information on when Palm Beach County specifically would wrap up its work.
Walker said he cannot “fashion a remedy in the dark.”
Earlier Thursday, Walker ruled voters should have two extra days to resolve issues if their signatures on file did not match the signature on their mail-in or provisional ballots. He established a new deadline of Saturday at 5 p.m. for voters in those situations to resolve those issues.
The decision is a partial victory for U.S. Senator Bill Nelson. He wanted mail-in ballots that have signatures that do not match those on file to have been thrown out.
"So I ask each of you, just consider whether or not you'd want your ballot thrown out by an untrained – even though well-intentioned – election worker or a volunteer, all because he or she determined your signature doesn't look right," Nelson has said.
The lawsuit is one of a half-dozen related to Florida's ongoing recount that involves three statewide races including Nelson's race against Gov. Rick Scott.
Election officials testified that nearly 4,000 mail-in and provisional ballots were rejected because of mismatched signatures.
The recount could very well put to bed the race for governor, but it may be far from over in the elections of Florida's next U.S. senator and commissioner of Agriculture.
There is some concern that elections supervisors will not have their recounts finished by the deadline.
No indication of problems for elections supervisors in Central Florida, but elsewhere in the state the recount may not be done on time.
It could set the stage for even more lawsuits during this recount process.
Scott refused to answer questions during a freshmen orientation in the U.S. Senate if he still believed there was recount fraud going on in Florida.
Scott made his way to Washington even though he has not been officially declared the winner in the U.S. Senate race.
The Republican senate hopeful holds a .15 percent lead over Nelson.
Both sides have filed lawsuits in an effort to sway the recount in their favor.
Scott has recused himself from his role on the Florida election commission, which is responsible for certifying the final election results, his attorney told a federal judge on Wednesday.
Democrats had demanded the move, since Scott is wrapped up in the middle of the tightening Senate race.
What that means for Thursday's recount is not certain and a lot remains in limbo.
With a close enough race, it is most likely this U.S. Senate race will head to a manual recount next.
The senate race and agriculture commissioner race will likely head to hand recounts of under votes and undervotes: That is where someone skipped voting in races or voted for two people in one race.
However, if the gap between Republican Ron DeSantis and Democrat Andrew Gillum does not narrow by the recount deadline Thursday, that race for governor may be called for DeSantis.
If hand counts are needed, the deadline for those vote totals is Sunday, with the vote certification deadline next Tuesday.
In Orange, Brevard, Volusia counties and the rest of Central Florida, the re-tabulated numbers are being sent to the state.
Palm Beach is the only county in Florida that has publically said it would not make the deadlines.
"I am working as hard as I can and I can't give anymore. This is our democracy and I am here to count every vote and I will take the time that's required," said Susan Bucher, the supervisor of Elections of Palm Beach County.
However, the problem is Palm Beach County is taking way more than the time state law allows and even more time than ordered by the courts recently.
For those counties that miss the deadline, the state says it will certify the vote count from Election Night.
That could spur yet another lawsuit in an already very contentious recount.
A manual recount is also expected in the tight race for Commissioner of Agriculture after Thursday's machine recount is finished. Republican Matt Caldwell and Democrat Nikki Fried are both waiting for the results.
— Jason Lanning and Jerry Hume