What you should know about Florida's vote recount

CNN's Harry Enten takes a look at the razor-thin Senate and gubernatorial races in Florida, as well as the senate race in Arizona.

Posted: Nov 14, 2018 7:32 AM
Updated: Nov 14, 2018 7:32 AM

The Florida secretary of state announced Saturday afternoon that the razor-thin races for governor, senator and agriculture commissioner will be reviewed in a series of recounts which were triggered because the margins in all three contests are under .5%.

According to unofficial results filed by the counties, Republican Gov. Rick Scott leads incumbent Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson by more than 12,500 votes, or about .15%. The spread in the governor's race is larger, with Republican former Rep. Ron DeSantis ahead of Democratic Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum by nearly 34,000 votes, for a lead of .41%. In the narrowest contest, Democratic agriculture commissioner candidate Nikki Fried's advantage stands at 5,326 votes — just .06% — over Republican Matt Caldwell.

Lawsuits, Lawsuits and more lawsuits

As the counting continues, the biggest daily developments in this story will likely be the flurry of lawsuits that can and will be filed from all the campaigns. There will be a pattern. Republican lawsuits will be designed to preserve the vote totals as they currently exist, the Democrat ones will be designed to expand the pool of available votes. That is not a good vs. evil comparison. It is a one side is winning vs. one side is losing comparison. Among the ones to expect: a lawsuit of some kind to allow Palm Beach County to extend their recount beyond the Thursday deadline (Read: CNN's Gregory Krieg's piece on the deadline here). And could Gillum, who has yet to sue anyone, finally join the fray and either file a suit on his own, or join an existing legal battle?

The PR battle is almost as important as the legal battle

These lawsuits are expensive, important and do offer up the possibility of having a tangible impact on the vote count. That impact may not be nearly as important as what it does for the public relations battle both sides are playing. Case in point: Scott's two successful lawsuits against Palm Beach and Broward County. They had no real impact on the vote total, but it does allow the Scott team to respond that both County Elections Supervisors were found to be "violating the Constitution" whenever anyone asks them to point to real evidence of fraud. Those cases had nothing to do with fraud. It was about releasing records that were eventually going to be released, but just a bit early. However, it certainly makes for a powerful talking point.

What will the candidates do?

You will continue to see Scott's team use strong language to describe Nelson's role in this. "Fraud" & "Steal" will be a constant refrain. The Nelson team will continue to paint Scott as someone willfully attempting to prevent valid votes from being cast -- and even using his powers as governor to do so. (Democrats compared him to a socialist dictator Sunday night).

To keep an eye on: Will Scott go to DC next week for a photo-op with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell Photo Op? His team says it is still being "considered."

Nelson should be back in DC as the Senate resumes session. He has not been seen in public at all since the closing days of the election.

As for the gubernatorial candidates, expect DeSantis to attempt to be as far above the fray as possible. If he does anything (and we don't think he will), it will all be in a role as governor-elect. He knows his chances of losing are slim, and he has the restraint to not get in the way of things. Gillum has already made two high-profile public appearances with another one scheduled for Monday night. He is expected to make several more in the coming days. He will give a speech in Boyton Beach Monday night. This is largely to capture the captive national audience. They remain realistic (or clear-eyed) about the eventual outcome. His is of course, in search of a new job.

What could go wrong?

It is NOT easy to recount 8.5 million votes in this short of a window. A lot could go wrong. Already we've seen longer than expected periods of time to sort ballots and calibrate machines. Some counties will have no issues, others will struggle. There is also the chance that bins of ballots could go missing or machines could fry. All of those issues are on the table. Remember, none of that matters in the eyes of Florida law. The recount must be done by Thursday at 8 p.m. ET or the Saturday count stands.

There are a lot more voters

Why is Florida so bad at this? Didn't they figure this out after what happened 18 years ago? Some context here. First, Florida did fix these problems since 2000. The state overhauled its ballot process and machines, it set finite timelines for the completion of these tasks and made the recount laws clear and specific. But these laws were written when the expected pool of voters in Florida was around the 5 million mark. This election was at 8.5 million. It is a lot quicker and easier to recount 5 million votes than it is 8.5 million. Second, this was an extraordinarily close election. And there were three of these extraordinarily close elections. This is a perfect storm of difficulty and one even the best-run election systems would have a hard time with. Honestly, so far, despite the hyperbole and a few minor hiccups, this one has not really been that bad.

What is the next big moment on the timeline?

Wednesday's hearing in Federal Court in Tallahassee where a new judge will hear the case regarding the adjudication of provisional and mail in ballots. The best guess as to how many of these ballots are at stake is around 20,000. Daniel Smith, a University of Florida Research Foundation professor in political science and a data junkie, has a terrific thread on these ballots and where they come from. His research shows why Democrats are so keen on getting these votes counted. They disproportionately come from minority and younger communities -- communities that vote overwhelmingly Democratic. Mark Elias, the Democrats' lead attorney, has consistently said, the more those votes get counted, the better it is for his clients. One thing to be aware of: the new judge in this case, Mark Walker, has previously ruled on a case like this, but he is not considered to be a fan of Scott. There is a sense among the campaigns that this case could go all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. Sunday night, the judge issued guidance for the hearing, subpoenaing two elections officials to talk about the specifics of the process on Wednesday.

New York

Cases: 1604892

Reported Deaths: 47037
CountyCasesDeaths
Queens2051828650
Kings2034588973
Suffolk1591463043
Nassau1447712879
Bronx1397315796
Westchester1051682070
New York1001433840
Erie638631582
Richmond556521553
Monroe51802976
Rockland37833882
Orange35925720
Onondaga32017620
Dutchess21769404
Albany20486326
Oneida19481473
Niagara15059305
Broome14316332
Saratoga11687145
Schenectady10661177
Ulster9812226
Rensselaer8839130
Putnam815486
Chautauqua7201122
Chemung6392129
Oswego591889
Ontario568188
Steuben5443137
Cayuga530387
St. Lawrence528780
Jefferson466763
Sullivan464659
Herkimer4521105
Wayne439864
Genesee4320118
Cattaraugus431276
Madison378384
Livingston346455
Clinton345226
Tompkins340842
Columbia333594
Fulton323480
Montgomery3110103
Cortland309860
Allegany285081
Warren279155
Wyoming277048
Tioga276656
Greene258968
Orleans240980
Chenango238568
Washington227151
Otsego225943
Lewis202030
Franklin198612
Seneca156153
Delaware146333
Essex131426
Schoharie117512
Yates101126
Schuyler85112
Hamilton2772
Unassigned216142
Out of NY0190

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 3543340

Reported Deaths: 49888
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles118349620069
Riverside2885413695
San Bernardino2850812651
Orange2598573848
San Diego2578053218
Santa Clara1095061747
Kern102137786
Fresno945841397
Sacramento926211446
Alameda797961200
Ventura76947805
San Joaquin662901042
Contra Costa61865653
Stanislaus55487937
Tulare47680731
Monterey42016323
San Mateo38552502
San Francisco33947394
Santa Barbara31630398
Solano29882161
Merced28749393
Sonoma27845295
Imperial26840587
Kings21916218
Placer19661231
San Luis Obispo19500221
Madera15325201
Santa Cruz14516174
Marin13083197
Yolo12689185
Shasta10950172
Butte10855158
El Dorado906995
Napa895068
Sutter881896
San Benito572358
Yuba571936
Lassen559419
Tehama506852
Tuolumne392959
Nevada390974
Mendocino379043
Amador343840
Humboldt313633
Lake310740
Glenn220723
Colusa212513
Calaveras190225
Siskiyou172013
Inyo127835
Mono12084
Del Norte9765
Plumas6516
Modoc4504
Mariposa3937
Trinity3525
Sierra990
Alpine800
Unassigned00

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 153645

Reported Deaths: 2162
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah31669515
Washington20962209
Marion18246282
Clackamas13260170
Lane10096122
Jackson8198108
Umatilla760081
Deschutes589358
Yamhill373962
Linn354455
Malheur333658
Polk300642
Klamath276554
Douglas237551
Josephine228849
Benton227816
Jefferson193427
Coos138518
Union126919
Columbia123221
Wasco121825
Lincoln112320
Hood River106029
Morrow103613
Crook77118
Clatsop7706
Baker6397
Curry4106
Tillamook4062
Lake3746
Harney2726
Grant2221
Wallowa1424
Gilliam531
Sherman520
Wheeler221
Unassigned00