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Too Close To Call: Florida Governor, Senate Races Headed For Recount


We're going to turn now to Florida, where the results of several key midterm races are still in question. Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner has ordered recounts in three statewide competitions that are too close to call - the races for U.S. Senate, the Florida governor and the state agriculture commissioner will all be reviewed by a machine count. Florida Public Radio's Regan McCarthy is with us now from Tallahassee to talk about what happens next.

Regan, thanks so much for joining us.

REGAN MCCARTHY, BYLINE: Glad to be here.

MARTIN: So tell us how the process goes from here.

MCCARTHY: So today, election supervisors turned in what are called the first unofficial results to the secretary of state, Ken Detzner, and he called those machine recounts based on that. And then election supervisors will have about five days to get those recounts done and turn that back in to the secretary of state. Then he'll review those results again, and for any races that are within a quarter of a percentage point, those races will go to a hand recount.

MARTIN: Does it look like any of the races are likely to go to a hand recount?

MCCARTHY: Yes. So according to those results that were turned in at noon today to the secretary of state, there are two races that look like they are heading to hand recount, and that would be the U.S. Senate race between Governor Rick Scott and current Senator Bill Nelson. Scott is the Republican in this race, and Nelson is the Democrat. And also the agriculture commissioner race - it looks like that race is also potentially headed to a hand recount - again, because those are within a margin of a quarter of a percentage point.

And so, just so you know, when you go to a hand recount, then that usually means that election supervisors will be counting any ballots where there are undervotes - meaning people didn't vote at all in that race - or where there are overvotes, meaning people maybe voted twice in that race, or that's what the machine recount was telling them. And so something interesting to watch is those undervotes. Bill Nelson's campaign has suggested that there is an unusual number of undervotes in Broward County, and he's saying it might have been because of some confusion in the way that Broward County laid out its ballot.

MARTIN: And, obviously, from a national perspective, we've been looking at Florida because it has such importance in national politics. But would you mind just reminding us of why all of these races are significant in Florida?

MCCARTHY: Right. All of these races are, as you said, being watched closely nationally but also being watched very closely here in Florida. The U.S. Senate race is interesting to viewers because it's been held by Democrats for years now at this point. In fact, more than a hundred years it's been largely held by Democrats with the exception of a 12-year period from 1989 to 2001. At this point, according to those most recent results, though, it's looking like it could go to a Republican. Governor Rick Scott is leading in that race.

Also, in the gubernatorial race, people were really watching that race. If Mayor Andrew Gillum had won for governor, he would have been the first black governor in Florida and also the first Democrat in about two decades. Right now, it's looking again like Republican Ron DeSantis is leading in that race.

And then, in Nikki Fried's race, the race for agriculture commissioner, Nikki Fried is now leading in that race by about 5,000 votes. So it's a really close race. It really hammers home that idea that your vote really counts when somebody can be leading by 5,000 votes. Also, she had been trailing on election night. Her opponent, Republican Matt Caldwell, had declared himself the victor in that race on election night. That's flipped now. It's unusual to see a race flip like that.

MARTIN: That's Regan McCarthy, senior news producer for WFSU News in Tallahassee.

Regan, thank you.

MCCARTHY: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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