Florida Republican Senate candidate Rick Scott, attending a Get Out the Vote Rally on Thursday in Orlando, Florida, won the U.S. Senate seat previously held by Sen.
The updated numbers showed Scott with 4,074,001 votes, or 50.21 percent, while Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson had 4,039,498 votes, or 49.79 percent.
Florida law requires a recount in races in which the winning margin is 0.5 percentage points or fewer, unless the trailing candidate says in writing that he or she doesn't want a recount.
County canvassing boards must report their first unofficial results to the state by noon Saturday.
Nelson was been viewed as one of the more vulnerable Democrats thanks to the formidable challenge from Scott, a multimillionaire businessman who has poured more than $60 million of his own fortune into his campaign. But unofficial statewide results have to be reported to the state elections office before a recount can be officially ordered.
Legal wrangling began in earnest in Florida on Thursday as top political campaigns girded for the possibility of lengthy and expensive vote recounts, especially in a Senate race that remains too close to call. In 2016, there were 24,460 provisional ballots submitted, with 10,998 ballots ultimately being counted, according to the Florida Division of Elections. A 0.25-point vote margin prompts a more thorough manual recount.
The Florida governor's race appeared to be all but settled Tuesday night when Gillum conceded to DeSantis. Nelson's team said it's preparing for a recount and will have observers in every one of the state's 67 counties to monitor the process.
As of Thursday, the Scott-Nelson race was headed to a recount, as the margin between the two had shrunk to 17,333 out of 8,166,081 cast statewide.
Democratic lawyer Marc Elias, the lead recount lawyer for Nelson, decried the signature matching process that is used to validate provisional ballots, arguing that it leaves the decision to the "untrained opinions" of poll workers to determine "whether signatures match".
Florida law mandates that any races within.5% would go to a machine recount.
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Gillum, who conceded Tuesday night, said Thursday in a statement "it has become clear there are many more outstanding ballots left to count".
FDLE Commissioner Rick Swearingen was personally chosen by Scott in 2015, even though the appointment is subject to approval by the three elected Cabinet members.
Florida's gubernatorial race, between Republican Ron DeSeantis and Democrat Andrew Gillum, is also going to a recount-in this case because the margin was less than 0.5 points.
The lawsuit, brought by Nelson's campaign and the Democratic Executive Committee of Florida, asks for all votes cast using vote-by-mail or those "determined to involve a signature mismatch, be counted as valid votes".
"I will not sit idly by while unethical liberals try to steal this election from the great people of Florida", Scott said.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) has raised concern about two Florida counties that are still counting votes two days after the November 6 election.
As of Wednesday morning, DeSantis led Gillum by 43,039 votes out of almost 8.2 million cast, or a difference of 0.526 percentage points. "But it's a lot harder to count a vote that hasn't been cast".
Scott's campaign manager Jackie Schutz Zeckman shot back: "They aim to disenfranchise law abiding Florida voters by producing ballots out of thin air until they have enough to win".
They only canvassing 971 provisional ballots in Miami-Dade, with 207 of those accepted. "And that means the candidates need to step up and be able to talk to the voters, make them believe in something and believe in the message, and that's what's going to carry over on Election Day".