Update: The Florida Senate race between Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) and Gov. Rick Scott (R) is heading to a hand recount after the latest round of machine tallies showed the two candidates still neck and neck.
As The Hill reports, Nelson and Scott were separated by a margin of about 0.15 percentage points, according to results of a machine recount released Thursday – a narrow enough margin to trigger a hand recount under state law.
The hand recount must be completed by Sunday, in time for a Nov. 20 deadline for state officials to certify the final election results.
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A Florida judge has given state voters whose mail-in and provisional ballots went uncounted due to unverified signatures will be given until Saturday at 5 p.m. to verify the authenticity of their ballots, reports the Wall Street Journal.
US District Judge Mark Walker, an Obama appointee, noted in his ruling that over 4,000 people in 45 of Florida's 67 counties were unable to vote in 2018 due to signatures on their mail-in or provisional ballots which did not match what county election officials had on file.
The number of ballots in the remaining 22 counties is unknown—as is the direction of the overall recount, which has become mired in counting delays, lawsuits and unsubstantiated accusations of fraud. Chiefly at stake is the outcome of the U.S. Senate race pitting Republican Gov. Rick Scott, who leads by fewer than 13,000 votes, and incumbent Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson.
The judge’s order requires Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner to issue a directive to the 67 county election supervisors to give voters a chance to correct their ballots. -WSJ
"The precise issue in this case is whether Florida’s law that allows county election officials to reject vote-by-mail and provisional ballots for mismatched signatures—with no standards, an illusory process to cure, and no process to challenge the rejection—passes constitutional muster. The answer is simple. It does not," wrote Judge Walker.
A spokesperson for Scott said that his campaign is "immediately appealing this baseless decision."
Sen. Nelson's attorney, Marc Elias said "Today’s decision is a victory for the people of Florida and for the Nelson campaign as we pursue our goal of making sure every legal ballot is counted," adding "The court’s ruling impacts thousands of ballots, and that number will likely increase as larger counties like Broward add their ballots to the total pool."
The ruling is the first in a series of Democrat-filed lawsuits challenging the election. They have asked Judge Walker to count all ballots with unverified signatures, while Republicans have argued for the suit's dismissal.