The state of Florida, United States, has ordered a machine recount of votes for state governor and senator following Tuesday’s closely fought mid-term elections, officials said yesterday.
Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner said that as unofficial results in both races had fallen within a margin of 0.5%, a recount was required by law.
The two ballots are among the most important yet to be decided. President Donald Trump responded to the news by accusing Democrats of trying to “steal” the elections. Trump had told reporters on Friday, before leaving for Paris to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the end of World War One, he believed that Mr Scott had clearly won the election.
The president said he would send his lawyers to Florida “to expose the fraud”, calling the Nelson campaign’s recount lawyer Marc Elias an election stealer.
The state’s Republican Governor Rick Scott, who is standing for the senate, also warned of electoral fraud, but neither he nor President Trump offered any evidence to back their claims.
The recounts are expected to take several days, but analysts say possible legal challenges mean it could take weeks for the winners to be confirmed. In the race for Florida’s Senate seat, unofficial results revealed a gap of just 0.15% between the votes for incumbent Democrat Bill Nelson and Mr Scott.
Democrat Andrew Gillum had already conceded the state governorship, but Ron DeSantis’s lead for the Republicans later narrowed to 0.41%. After the recount was announced, Mr Gillum said: “I am replacing my words of concession with an uncompromised and unapologetic call that we count every single vote.”
Mr DeSantis, however, insisted that the results were “clear and unambiguous, just as they were on election night”. “It is important that everyone involved in the election process strictly adhere to the rule of law which is the foundation for our nation,” he added.
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Mr Trump had earlier said there was “a lot of dishonesty” over contested votes. Some candidates have already launched legal action. Mr Scott, who claimed victory on Tuesday, is suing officials over an election recount, while Mr Nelson is suing over uncounted ballots and there have also been a number of protests outside the elections office.
Mr Scott called on sheriffs in every county to closely monitor the recount process, tweeting: “We will not let unethical liberals steal this election! “It’s time Senator Nelson accepts these results and allows the state of Florida to move forward to a better future.”