Rick Patrick: Greene Publishing, Inc.
What has seemed to be an endless stream of litigation, vote counts, recounts and uncertainty has finally come to an end with the concessions of Sen. Bill Nelson and Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum. After the preliminary vote totals for all the state-wide political races were announced on Election Day, Nov. 6, the races for Governor, U.S. Senator and Commissioner of Agriculture were too close to call. In fact, the margins were so small all three races necessitated a machine recount. At the end of the machine recount, two of the state-wide races, the U.S. Senate race between incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson and current Gov. Rick Scott, and the Commissioner of Agriculture race between Matt Caldwell and Nikki Fried, were still within a .25 percent margin. This called for a manual recount of all under-votes and over-votes in each of Florida's 67 counties. The Governor's race between Ron DeSantis and Gillum was outside the .25 percent margin that would have called for an automatic manual recount, with DeSantis still holding a slight lead over Gillum.
In Madison County, the manual recount took place on Friday, Nov. 16. The local Canvassing Board, consisting of County Commissioners Rick Davis and Ronnie Moore, along with County Judge Bailey Browning, examined each ballot that had been designated either an over-vote or an under-vote. An over-vote was a ballot on which it appeared the voter marked more than one choice. An under-vote was a ballot on which it appeared the voter did not mark any choice. During the manual recount, only the U.S. Senate race and the Commissioner of Agriculture race were counted. The overwhelming majority of under-votes were ballots in which the voter clearly did not mark the ballot for that particular race. There were a few exceptions with voters writing in a candidate's name, such as "Trump" or "Mickey Mouse." Most of the under-votes were in the Agriculture Commissioner's race. Also present for the manual recount were attorneys for both the Republican and Democratic parties, as well as citizen observers. Once the manual recount was complete, the Canvasing Board certified the results and those results were sent to the Florida Secretary of State. All 67 counties in the state had a deadline of Sunday, Nov. 18, at 3 p.m. to release their official results.
Statewide, the official result for the U.S. Senate race was Scott with 4,099,505 and Nelson with 4,089,472 votes. The official result in the Governor's race was DeSantis with 4,076,186 votes and Gillum with 4,043,723 votes. The official result in the Commissioner of Agriculture race was Fried with 4,032,954 votes and Caldwell with 4,026,201 votes.
Locally, the U.S. Senate race results were Scott with 4,184 votes and Nelson with 3,425 votes. In the Governor's race, DeSantis received 4,345 votes and Gillum received 3,235 votes. In the Agriculture Commissioner's race, Caldwell received 4,347 votes and Fried received 3,169 votes.
More information on all the official election results can be found at www.votemadison.com.