JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – All eyes are on Broward County as votes continue to be counted in three statewide races that appear headed for a recount.
The deeply purple state of Florida will learn Saturday whether recounts will be held in the bitter, tight U.S. Senate race between Gov. Rick Scott and incumbent Democrat Bill Nelson; and in the governor's race between former Republican U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis and the Democratic mayor of Tallahassee, Andrew Gillum.
The insults continue to be traded on social media. On Friday, President Trump tweeted:
Mayor Gillum conceded on Election Day and now Broward County has put him “back into play.” Bill Nelson conceded Election - now he’s back in play!? This is an embarrassment to our Country and to Democracy!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 9, 2018
To which Gillum responded:
What’s embarrassing to democracy is not counting every vote — and you, of course.— Andrew Gillum (@AndrewGillum) November 9, 2018
Count every vote. https://t.co/ZfrBBcymrg
Closer to home, people are paying close attention to the Duval County Canvassing Board, the panel charged with reviewing questionable ballots.
Though Supervisor of Elections Mike Hogan’s office sent unofficial returns to the state on Friday, attorneys for the Democratic and Republican parties have been at the local elections office since Tuesday monitoring which votes are counted and which ones are not.
That effort could go into overdrive this weekend if the state orders a widely anticipated recount. Once that call comes in, a machine recount would begin at 9 a.m. on Sunday. The results of that recount would determine whether a manual recount of over- and undervotes is necessary.
Several high-profile contests including the races for governor and Senate hang in the balance.
“Well, we are doing all of the processing in-house to make sure that we are ready to go if the call comes in,” said Hogan. “We know it will, but we’re not sure exactly what time.”
Already the canvassing board has decided 662 ballots should not count for a number of reasons, including signatures that don’t match up, voters who registered late or not at all and even some who had apparently already voted.
To put that figure in perspective, just 62 votes have been rejected in neighboring St. Johns County, compared to 38 rejected ballots in Nassau County and 10 rejected ballots in Clay County. But that’s to be expected given how many more people live in Jacksonville.
It’s the rejected votes in Duval County that have invited scrutiny from partisan lawyers such as Chris Hand, a Democratic voter protection attorney representing Nikki Fried. In speaking with News4Jax, he questioned the board’s decision to rule out some of those ballots.
“We want to make sure we protect the vote,” he said. “That is the key thing we want to accomplish here. For example, today we raised the issue of late registration because a number of provisional ballots were rejected because the board decided the registrations were late.”
“We simply ask that the board personally review instead of the supervisor of elections staff reviewing registrations to determine whether or not they were filed on time.”
Republicans and their attorneys have called the Democrats’ scrutiny into question. But Duval County Republican Party Chairwoman Karyn Morton said she has no problem with the board’s decisions so far.
“We are available to respond to any challenges that may be made, but I have been very pleased with the process and this post-election,” said Morton, adding that she’s satisfied with how Hogan’s office has handled everything as well.
Roughly 40 people came together Friday afternoon at Friendship Fountain in Jacksonville, calling for a recount.
"If people have cast their ballot, they’ve taken time out of their day, time out of their life to go cast a ballot and that vote doesn't count," said Bonnie Hendrix with Women's March Florida. "What does that say about our democracy?"
Demonstrators at the "#CountEveryVote" press conference feel a recount would be the fairest thing to do, to make sure every vote it counted.
"There were a lot of provisional ballots that were not counted," said Lashonda Holloway, a demonstrator. "It’s important to make sure that every person who had the intention of voting that there vote counted.”
Also on Friday, demonstrators stood outside the Broward Board of Elections Headquarters in Lauderhill, showing their displeasure for Broward County Supervisor of Elections Brenda Snipes.
Those demonstrators agree with Governor Scott, who said elections officials in South Florida are trying to "steal" the election from the Republicans.
"We're still waiting to find out what the final results are," one demonstrators said. "I know that at the end of the day, the truth will come out."