Authorities in Florida have ordered a machine recount of votes in its neck-and-neck race for the US senate seat and governor’s office amid allegations of fraud from the candidates.
State Secretary Ken Detzner said Florida’s 67 counties will submit unofficial totals by 17:00 GMT on Saturday, while the results will be declared by 20:00 GMT on Thursday.
The announcement was made after unofficial results in both races fell within the margin that triggers a recount, according to the state’s law.
In the race for governor, former US Representative Ron DeSantis led his Democrat rival and Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum by a margin of 0.41 percent.
For the senate seat, Florida’s current Republican Governor Rick Scott has seen his lead narrow over incumbent Senator Bill Nelson, a Democrat, to about 12,500 votes, or 0.15 percent.
US President Donald Trump was not amused by the development, tweeting on Saturday: “Trying to STEAL two big elections in Florida! We are watching closely!”
Trying to STEAL two big elections in Florida! We are watching closely!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 10, 2018
Trump had accused Democratic election officials in Florida’s Broward and Palm Beach Counties of corruption. “What’s going on in Florida is a disgrace,” he said.
Scott had filed a lawsuit against the Democratic election officials in the two counties, accusing them of violating election law and demanding access to their vote tallies.
Nelson also filed a motion in federal court, asking that provisional and absentee ballots not be rejected.
The close calls will require a hand recount of ballots from tabulation machines that could not determine which candidate got the vote.
Florida is the country’s third-largest state. It is also an important “swing state” in the US, especially in presidential elections.
The Sunshine State has never been a sure constituency for either the Republicans or the Democrats, resulting in presidential candidates spending considerable time campaigning here.
The move conjured memories of Florida’s 2000 presidential recount when the winner hung in the balance for weeks before the supreme court stopped the counting, and Republican George W Bush triumphed over Democrat Al Gore.
In Tuesday’s elections, Democrats won a majority in the US House of Representatives after eight years in the minority, while Republicans expanded their two-seat advantage in the Senate.