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Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Only three recounts have resulted differently in influential races since 2000

Posted By on Tue, Nov 13, 2018 at 12:49 PM

Recounts are underway in Florida of votes in the races for U.S. Senate, governor and state agriculture commissioner, as if you weren't aware.

The ballot reporting deadline was Saturday. At the moment, term-limited Republican Gov. Rick Scott leads Democratic incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson by about 12,500 votes in the U.S. Senate race; former Republican U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis leads Democratic Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum by roughly 34,000 votes in the bid for the governor's mansion; and Democrat Nikki Fried leads Republican state Rep. Matt Caldwell by about 5,300 votes in the state agriculture commissioner race.

All of the above fall within the 0.5 percent or less that triggers an automatic recount under Florida law. For an automatic manual recount to be triggered, the margin will have to fall within 0.25 percent or less.

But what does history have to say about the final results of a recount? How often have those with votes to make up for come out on top?

Not many, according to an analysis from the nonpartisan group FairVote, an organization that advocates for electoral reforms. In fact, out of 4,687 statewide elections between 2000 and 2016, only 26 were close enough to trigger a recount. And of those 26, just three recounts eventually changed the initial result of the race, including the 2004 Washington state governor's race, the 2006 Vermont state auditor's race and 2008 Minnesota U.S. Senate race, all with an average of 311 votes separating winner from loser.

Essentially, for either Nelson, Gillum or Caldwell to defy the odds and come out on top, lightning would have to strike, so to speak – thrice.

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