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Bill Nelson’s Campaign Lawyer Predicts a Hand Recount, and a Victory

Attorney Marc Elias calls it a ‘jump ball’ between Nelson and Scott heading to recount

Marc Elias, chair of the Perkins Coie Political Law practice, is working for Sen. Bill Nelson in Florida. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Marc Elias, chair of the Perkins Coie Political Law practice, is working for Sen. Bill Nelson in Florida. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Democratic Party’s premier election lawyer predicts that the Florida Senate race is heading for a hand recount, and he said Thursday that he thinks Sen. Bill Nelson may in fact be re-elected.

Marc Elias, the partner at Perkins Coie who is now representing Nelson’s Senate campaign for recount purposes, said he expected that when the first round of counting of ballots is completed, the margin between Nelson and Republican Gov. Rick Scott will come down to within the 0.25 percent threshold required under Florida law for a manual count. The race is already within the 0.5 percent machine recount threshold.

“Currently Sen. Nelson trails by fewer than 22,000 votes,” Elias told reporters on a Nelson campaign conference call. “I expect that that is going to close.”

Elias said, “I think that they are roughly equal probability,” that Nelson will be ahead or behind at the start of a hand recount, calling it a “jump ball.”

“We believe that at the end of this process, Sen. Nelson is going to be declared the winner,” Elias said.

That’s in part because in some bluer parts of the state, the first round of counting has not yet completed.

“In Broward County, we know that they are still counting,” he said, referring to the county that is centered in Fort Lauderdale.

Elias said on the call there has been a rather unusual pattern of undervotes appearing out of Broward County, citing discrepancies among the Senate and gubernatorial race between former Rep. Ron DeSantis and Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum.

“What is unusual is to undervote the top of the ticket,” Elias said. “It’s actually a vote of Senate versus attorney general and some of the other down ballot races.”

He also suggested that there could be a rather technical ballot design issue in which some machine scanners did not count the Senate race when the ballots were tabulated.

Scott came out to address his party in Naples on election night, with his campaign manager having said that they had secured a big victory even though Nelson had not called to concede the race.

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