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Broward County hand recount nets little for Bill Nelson

With a hand recount of U.S. Senate votes in Broward County complete, Democrat Bill Nelson netted less than 300 votes, according to Republican Rick Scott’s campaign.

That’s bad news for the Democrat, who hoped the examination of some 32,000 undervotes in the heavily Democratic County would help close a 12,603-vote deficit in the election.

Miami Herald reporter Alex Harris on Saturday tweeted that Nelson picked up 410 new votes in the hand recount of undervotes, while Scott won an additional 136 votes. That’s a 274-vote gain for Nelson from Broward County.

Scott held a 0.15-percent lead on Nelson after a machine recount of votes in every county concluded earlier this week. That’s small enough to trigger a hand recount, required be Florida law should raced come down to less than a 0.25 margin.

Nelson’s team counted on a big return from Broward County, where nearly 25,000 fewer votes were cast for U.S. Senate than for governor, a statistical anomaly.

While a number of people blame a design flaw in the Broward County ballot, which placed the Senate race in a column underneath voter instructions while the governor’s race topped the center column of the ballot, Nelson attorney Marc Elias previously argued it was more likely a machine calibration problem.

Elias had hoped a recount would find thousands of votes for Senate in the county, where Nelson won nearly 69 percent of the votes already counted.

With the hand recount done, however, the vast majority of some 34,000 undervotes in the county were simply left blank by voters.

That realization dashes Democrats’ greatest hope for a different outcome in the Senate race, but Nelson’s campaign this week did win a lawsuit allowing voters whose vote-by-mail ballots were rejected based on mismatched signatures to challenge the decision.

Voters have until 5 p.m. today to contact election supervisors and confirm the legitimacy of their votes.

Additionally, most election supervisors have yet to report a count on military and overseas vote-by-mail ballots. State law allows those votes to come in as much as 10 days after the election so long as the ballots were postmarked before the conclusion of the race.

But those votes typically break for Republicans.

Written By

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

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