Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) conceded a hotly contested Senate race to Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) on Sunday - nearly two weeks after the midterm election and following two contentious recounts, Scott said in a statement.
"I just spoke with Senator Bill Nelson, who graciously conceded, and I thanked him for his years of public service," said Scott. "This victory would not be possible without the hard work of so many people. Now the campaign truly is behind us, and that’s where we need to leave it. We must do what Americans have always done: come together for the good of our state and our country."
Nelson was expected to give a concession speech on Sunday at approximately 3 p.m. EST.
The contest came to an end after a noon deadline passed for county election officials to submit the results of a hand recount, which showed Scott leading Nelson by 10,333 votes - or .12 percentage points. The hand recount was triggered after a machine recount showed the two candidates separated by just 12,603 votes.
Scott's victory gives the GOP a 52-47 majority in the Senate, pending the outcome of a Mississippi special election that will be decided Nov. 27.
Democrats originally had hoped that Broward County, where there were roughly 30,000 ballots on which machines either picked up multiple votes on the same ballot for the Senate race or no vote at all in that contest — known as "overvotes" and "undervotes.
They thought it was possible that the machines had erred and simply not read valid votes for the Senate race correctly.
The Scott-Nelson race recount was rife with difficulties that appeared to be outright vote rigging. During the machine recount, Broward County Supervisor of Elections, Brenda Snipes, submitted the results two minutes late - denying Scott an additional 779 votes.
Meanwhile, Broward election officials were seen throwing ballot boxes into rented moving vans - while two provisional ballot boxes were discovered in an AVIS rental car at the Ft. Lauderdale Airport, though they were later reported to be unmarked ballots.
"There were only unmarked ballots in the box along with supplies and materials," said Broward attorney and GOP State Committeeman Richard DeNapoli. "But still, having unmarked ballots floating around or sitting at an airport is not a thing that inspires confidence."
Meanwhile, nearly 3,000 votes effectively disappeared during a Broward recount.
Officials said about 10 out-of-place envelopes containing ballots were brought to the canvassing board’s attention. Besides the mix-up, Larry Davis, a lawyer for Democrat Nikki Fried’s campaign, asked the canvassing board about votes that didn’t add up into Broward’s machine recount.
“There’s really an issue with 2,000 ballots that are missing from the original count that was sent on the secretary of state on Saturday the 10th, Davis said.
Supervisor of Elections Brenda Snipes told WLRN reporters those 2,040 missing votes were “intermingled” and never included in the machine recount last week. Broward will now use its first initial count -- not the machine recount. Those lost votes did end up in the final count sent to the state.
When also asked if he knew about the envelope mix-up, and if they were now labeled and stacked properly, he laughed.
“It’s hard to say, it’s Broward County Supervisor of Elections,” Davis said. -WLRN
Will Broward County ever fix its election quagmires?