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Sen. Bill Nelson will ask for a recount in Florida race against Rick Scott

Scott’s lead is within the window for an automatic recount.

Florida Senate Candidate Bill Nelson Joins In Sign Waving Ahead Of Midterm Elections
Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) attends an election sign waving event at US 1 at US 1 & Eau Gallie Boulevard during the final full day of campaigning in the midterm election on November 5, 2018.
Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson is asking for a recount in his attempt to hold on to his Florida seat in the US Senate.

With all precincts reporting on Wednesday morning, Republican Gov. Rick Scott has a small lead. According to the New York Times, with 100 percent of precincts reporting, Scott has a less than 35,000-vote lead over Nelson, with 50.2 percent of the vote compared to Nelson’s 49.8 percent of the vote.

Many news outlets, including Vox, initially called the race for Scott, who claimed victory over Nelson on Tuesday night, saying the campaign had been “divisive and tough.”

But the margin is now close enough to trigger an automatic recount in Florida — and perhaps even require state officials to manually count ballots later on.

The first step, according to the Nelson campaign’s statement, is contacting voters whose ballots weren’t counted because of a voter ID problem. There’s a deadline of noon Saturday to determine if a recount will go forward.

It’s been 18 years since the infamous 2000 presidential election recount, so if you need a refresher, here’s how recounts work in Florida: If a margin of victory in a race or the approval or rejection of a ballot measure is less than a half of a percent, or 0.5 percent, an automatic recount is triggered of votes tallied by machine. The Scott-Nelson race is within that margin.

Once the machine recount is finished, though, it might not be over, depending on what it shows. If that retabulation winds up reflecting a difference of less than a quarter of a percent, or 0.25 percent, between the two, then there is a hand recount. The manual recount is only of the overvotes and undervotes.

The secretary of state orders recounts for federal, state, or multi-county races, meaning Ken Detzner, a Republican, would oversee it. He was appointed by Scott in 2012.

Florida has been one of 2018’s most-watched Senate races. Nelson is one of 10 Senate Democrats running for reelection in a state Donald Trump won in 2016’s presidential. The race was also an expensive one — Scott, who spent millions of dollars of his own money on his campaign, spent some $68 million on his campaign, according to campaign finance website OpenSecrets. Nelson spent nearly $28 million.