Lead closing: Ahead of manual recount, Ileana Garcia leads José Javier Rodríguez by 28 votes

garcia v rodriguez
Officials expect the manual recount to begin Thursday.

With the Senate District 37 machine recount completed, Republican candidate Ileana Garcia now leads Democratic Sen. José Javier Rodríguez by just 28 votes. Election officials will began a manual recount for the race Thursday.

Wednesday’s portion of the machine recount, which covered in-person ballots submitted during the early voting period, dropped Garcia’s lead from 33 votes to 28 out of more than 215,000 votes cast.

Officials began the recount Tuesday, where they reviewed vote-by-mail ballots and votes cast on Election Day. At the start of that process, Garcia led Sen. Rodríguez by 48.53% to 48.51%. That 0.02 percentage point lead is well within the 0.5 percentage point window to trigger an automatic machine recount.

Tuesday’s portion of the recount raised Garcia’s lead from 31 votes to 33 before it fell back to just 28 votes Wednesday.

Florida law also requires a manual recount for races with a margin within 0.25 percentage points. The SD 37 race is within that window as well. A manual recount must be finished by noon Sunday.

The process is going on at the Miami-Dade County Elections Department. Garcia is looking to pull off an upset over the well-funded incumbent Rodríguez in SD 37.

The Rodríguez team has alleged foul play in the contest, as non-party affiliated candidate Alex Rodriguez courted nearly 3% of the vote in the razor-thin race. The Senator’s team has accused Republicans of recruiting a spoiler NPA candidate — who shares a last name with the incumbent — as a way to siphon votes from the Democratic candidate.

Republicans, meanwhile, lobbed accusations that Democrats were interfering in the vote-curing process late last week, as a recount was on the horizon. A spokesperson for the Miami-Dade County Supervisor of Elections Office said no such fraud claims had reached their office.

SD 37 spans portions of Miami-Dade County, including Coral Gables, Key Biscayne, Palmetto Bay and Pinecrest.

Ryan Nicol

Ryan Nicol covers news out of South Florida for Florida Politics. Ryan is a native Floridian who attended undergrad at Nova Southeastern University before moving on to law school at Florida State. After graduating with a law degree he moved into the news industry, working in TV News as a writer and producer, along with some freelance writing work. If you'd like to contact him, send an email to [email protected].


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