ORLANDO, Fla. — The tight margin of votes between former Gov. Rick Scott and incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson in Florida's U.S. Senate race has triggered a recount.

"We are proceeding to a recount," Nelson said Wednesday morning in a brief statement.

Unofficial results show that as of Wednesday evening, Nelson narrowly trailed GOP candidate Scott by just more than 26,000 votes of 8.1 million ballots cast. 

That's less than a one-half percentage point difference. State law requires a recount when candidates are with one-half point.

Deep blue Broward County is still tabulating vote-by-mail and early voting ballots. Duval and Palm Beach counties are still tabulating vote-by-mail ballots.

“A significant number of ballots have not yet been counted and, because of the size of Florida, we believe the results of the election are unknown and require a recount," said Marc Elias, and attorney representing the Nelson campaign.

Elias says he also plans to aggressively pursue reports of irregularities.

Late Tuesday night, Scott declared victory, saying he was ready to get to work in Washington.

"This race is over," said Chris Hartline, a spokesman for Scott for Florida. "It's a sad way for Bill Nelson to end his career. He is desperately trying to hold on to something that no longer exists."

Just before midnight, Scott had almost a 1-percent lead over Nelson, but as more precincts reported results, the margin grew tighter. The tally in the race continued closing into the predawn hours Wednesday and inched close enough to trigger a recount at about 3:15 a.m.

"It’s just hard to believe that we’re here now," Scott said overnight. "Now that this campaign is behind us that's where we're going to leave it."

Under state law, there is no provision for candidates to request a recount, but a losing candidate can submit a written request that a recount not be held.

The recount can only be triggered by the margin of votes, which in this case, the criteria has been met. 

The next step in the process is for the 67 county Supervisors of Election to recheck the total tally, and for the Nelson campaign to contact voters whose ballots were not counted because of a lack of valid identification or a matching address, for instance.

The deadline is noon Saturday, or perhaps longer under certain circumstances, to determine whether the recount proceeds under law.

In the meantime, the Nelson campaign said it intends to have observers in all 67 counties watching for irregularities, mistakes or unusual partisan activities.

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