Bill Nelson’s attorney still likes his odds. Here’s why.

Bill Nelson

The lead recount attorney for Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson remains confident his client will come out ahead after a manual recount of votes, despite a 12,562-vote deficit behind Republican Rick Scott in totals certified Saturday by the state.

“I expect to see that margin to evaporate entirely and for Sen. Nelson to take a small lead,” said attorney Marc Elias.

The margin between Scott and Nelson today represents 0.15 percent of nearly 8.2 million votes cast statewide. Florida law requires a machine recount if the gap between candidates falls with 0.5 percent.

Secretary of State Ken Detzner on Saturday ordered election officials in all 67 counties to prepare for a recount of three statewide races: U.S. Senate, Governor and Agriculture Commissioner.

Elias expects when the machine recount concludes that the gap between Nelson and Scott will shrink substantially.

The main reason? Undervotes.

There’s already been media speculation about why Broward County, a Democratic bastion, saw 24,992 fewer votes counted for U.S. Senate than for Governor, despite the race appearing first on the ballot.

Outlets like FiveThirtyEight suggest poor ballot design could play a role, but Elias dismissed that.

If design were a major element, Elias said, then ballots counted in Broward County since Tuesday would have similarly discrepancies. But Elias says as he observes election returns, the most recently counted ballots don’t show a significant deficit in Senate votes.

That leads Elias to believe the issue had to do with machine calibration. The devices counting votes must be carefully set to count light marks for votes but not be so sensitive to pick up stray marks as overvotes.

Machines across the state will be recalibrated before the recount, which most counties expect to start Sunday. That should lead more votes cast for U.S. Senate.

Based on where there seem to be a high number of undervotes, Elias expects gains for Nelson.

But even if the machines don’t pick up all potential votes, Elias expects a hand recount will find more. State law requires a manual recount if the vote margin remains within 0.25 percent.

“The human eye can make judgments on voter intent that machines can’t,” Elias said.

If a voter marked a bubble with an ‘X’ or circled a choice, then a machine likely won’t count that. But a canvassing board will put that vote into totals.

Elias brushed aside concerns raised by Republicans about some 20 rejected provisional ballots in Broward County that were inadvertently put in the vote pool there.

The ballots were all rejected because of mismatched signatures, Elias said. The Nelson campaign has a pending federal lawsuit that asserts Florida’s signature requirement law violates a constitutionally protected right to vote.

In the end? Elias doesn’t know for sure where the margin will settle, but remains upbeat.

“I like Sen. Nelson’s odds over those of the Governor,” Elias said.

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected].


  • Angel Alberto Castillo

    November 10, 2018 at 11:02 pm

    Well done report with a clear explanation.
    Let the candidates with the most votes win the election .
    All sides involved should respect the Re-count required by the Florida Department of Elections …


    November 11, 2018 at 4:11 am

    Nelson and Gillum don’t need a recount. They need a short rope and a tall tree.


      November 11, 2018 at 6:55 am

      If you are man enough, why the fuck you don’t provide both and see what happens to your punk ass?

      • RightOn

        November 12, 2018 at 4:42 am


    • William Grim

      November 11, 2018 at 6:57 am


    • N.J. Porter

      November 11, 2018 at 6:57 am

      So you feel free, in tRump’s America, to publicly recommend lynching opposing candidates? Your day, John B. Thayer will come.

    • Ray Tampa

      November 11, 2018 at 9:25 am

      That was a bold racist remark, John Thayer. I believe that Peter Virdee gave you an appropriate response.

      Trump, Scott and DeSantis should take stock of their supporters who are rogue law enforcement officers, phony evangelicals, white nationalists, Nazi sympathizers, and people with warped minds.

    • Louann Flauto

      November 11, 2018 at 9:32 am

      Well that pretty much sums up your attitude. Instead of following the law which has been created mostly by republicans, the candidates should be hung.

    • Wally

      November 11, 2018 at 1:45 pm

      Wow! You have no shame whatsoever for your un-American attitude toward your fellow citizens. Your side lost that war 150 years ago, and today the people of your country are overwhelmingly rejecting your viewpoint again–that’s what happened in this election. If you insist on staying in the USA, whose values and principles you so clearly reject, do recognize that your barbaric opinion is the minority one.

    • BB

      November 12, 2018 at 1:10 am

      You might ask yourself what’s holding you back in life. Enough self-examination might reveal that you’re your own worst enemy. Love yourself a little more and you might not be driven by so much meaningless hatred.

  • G

    November 11, 2018 at 5:55 am

    Nelson an gillum needs be man except votes
    Nelson an gillum lost acting like 3 years old not getting enough candy
    Democrats put both brats to bed without super
    Next morning need see doctors about your lost how to deal with your lost of candy


      November 11, 2018 at 6:56 am

      I see counting votes offends you. I see there is a cliff close by. Use it to spare us having to read such nonsense.

    • Frank Jewett

      November 11, 2018 at 6:58 am

      We are embarrassed that the national spotlight shines on Florida…again…for all the wrong reasons. Brenda Snipes has been incompetent for years…where is Pam Bondi to arrest and replace her? When Trump became President he promised to drain the swamp. We need to make sure when this fiasco is over…the swamp ceases to exist in Florida… Make America Great Again.

      • Ray Tampa

        November 11, 2018 at 9:36 am

        Whew! Calling Pam Bondi to arrest someone for being incompetent is like asking Bernie Madoff, Donald Trump or Rick Scott to arrest someone for stealing.

      • Louann Flauto

        November 11, 2018 at 9:38 am

        Well that pretty much sums up your attitude. Instead of following the law which has been created mostly by republicans, the candidates should be hung. I am laughing as Scott claims fraud, yet the election board has had people in Broward during the entire process and they claim fraud has not happened and law enforcement has agreed. Plus if Broward election supervisor is so corrupt, as Governor Scott could have replaced her and appointed someone else. Talk about a crybaby because things are not going so well for him.

      • Bryan Levas

        November 13, 2018 at 2:21 am

        He promised to drain the swamp and yet he filled his whole cabinet with Goldman Sachs and oil executives. Interesting.

    • William Grim

      November 11, 2018 at 7:00 am

      I go GOP.

    • Louanna Towery Flauto

      November 11, 2018 at 9:33 am

      Neither candidate has behaved as you are stating. You must live in your own special reality

    • DrCroland

      November 11, 2018 at 12:21 pm

      Very mature. Not only are you completely illiterate, but you’re too cowardly to even post a fake name, let alone a real one. Jackass.

    • S. D.

      November 11, 2018 at 10:43 pm

      The only one’s I see squawking about it not being fair is.. Scott, Desantis, and TRUMP. — They are scared because the votes missing are from predominantly Democratic counties. No matter win or loose, Nelson and Gillium aren’t screaming big babies. Tell me you never played a sport or a game where you didn’t like the call. Give it a break, let them recount. The Republican’s are squawking so much they are scared they will be the one’s to get caught.

  • Bruce Pryor

    November 11, 2018 at 7:37 am

    One again,make America Great,American was great before the British amenities over here because they did not want to pay taxes,American a was great because the native Americans was here first,America was great before they took this land from the native Americans, This America was native America before anything else, So if you want to make America Great aga in leave,and take your prejudice and racism back across the Atlantic Ocean, where it came from

  • Denny

    November 11, 2018 at 7:39 am

    Let’s see: Elias does not trust canvassers to be able to match signatures, but he does trust them to be able to tell voter “intent” on a blank ballot. Why am I not surprised?

Comments are closed.


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