TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — The Florida secretary of state ordered recounts in the U.S. Senate and governor races on Saturday, an unprecedented review of two major races in the state that took five weeks to decide the 2000 presidential election.
Secretary Ken Detzner issued the order after the unofficial results in both races fell within the margin that by law triggers a recount. His office was unaware of any other time either a governor race or U.S. Senate race required a recount, let alone both in the same election.
The unofficial results show that Republican former U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis led Democratic Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum by less than 0.5 percentage points, which will require a machine recount of ballots.
In the Senate race, Republican Gov. Rick Scott's lead over Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson is less than 0.25 percentage points, which will require a hand recount of ballots from tabulation machines that couldn't determine which candidate got the vote.
Saturday's development's return Florida to the center of a major political drama 18 years after an infamous presidential recount left control of the White House undecided for more than a month.
The latest recount underscores the deep divides plaguing one of the most critical states in American politics. Beyond determining the governorship, it will decide whether Nelson returns to Washington for a fourth term or whether Republicans will pad their majority in the Senate.
Florida's 67 counties will decide when to begin the recounts. They could start the moment Detzner issued his order, or elections officials can wait until Sunday or Monday. But they must finish the machine recounts by 3 p.m. Thursday. Hand recounts will be reflected in official election results due Nov. 18.