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Nelson Campaign Prepares For Statewide Recount

Photo: Al Diaz, Associated Press

As a statewide recount of key races in the midterm election begins, Senator Nelson’s campaign is asking a federal court to look at the process of validating signatures of absentee and provisional ballots.

On Saturday Republican challenger Rick Scott held about a 12,000 vote lead over the incumbent Democratic Senator Bill Nelson.

The Nelson campaign is optimistic that a statewide recount will narrow the lead and possibly put Nelson ahead of Scott. Machine recounts begin this week in all counties and if the margin continues to hold below a quarter of one percent, a manual recount is triggered.

Campaign attorney Mark Elias filed a federal lawsuit asking the court to examine the process of validating a person’s identity using signatures when voting by mail or provisionally. Some votes were thrown out because the signature on the ballot didn’t match what the state had on file. The Nelson campaign wants those ballots to be counted.

“We believe that all voters, whether they voted for Senator Nelson or Governor Scott, should not be disenfranchised because an election worker doesn’t believe their signature in two different places are closely resembling,” said Elias Thursday on a call with reporters.

The campaign thinks a machine count could also uncover possible mechanical issues relating to undervoting -- significantly less people voted in the Senate race than other races in some counties.

"It’s time for Senator Nelson to accept reality and spare the state of the Florida the time, expense and discord of a recount,” said Chris Hartline, Scott for Florida Spokesman. The Scott campaigned filed lawsuits relating to duplicate ballot and public disclosure issues Thursday.

A court could rule on the Nelson campaign lawsuit as early as Wednesday.

Brendan covers space news for WMFE, everything from rocket launches to the latest scientific discoveries in our universe. He hosts WMFE's weekly radio show and podcast "Are We There Yet?" which explores human space exploration.