Florida certifies results of contentious 2018 election

Florida certifies results of contentious 2018 election
Posted at 9:47 AM, Nov 20, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-20 04:49:17-05

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) - Florida’s election results were certified Tuesday, two weeks after close races for governor, U.S. Senate and a Cabinet position set up an unprecedented three statewide recounts.

The Elections Canvassing Commission finalized the results shortly after 9 a.m., two weeks after the Nov. 6 election, after which candidates traded allegations of uncounted ballots and voter fraud.

Official results turned in Sunday showed Republican U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis defeated Democratic Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum in the governor’s race by 32,463 votes out of more than 8 million cast.

Republican Gov. Rick Scott defeated Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson by 10,033 votes.

The closest race was for the Cabinet position of agriculture commissioner. Democrat Nikki Fried defeated Republican state Rep. Matt Caldwell by 6,753 votes.

All three of the trailing candidates had conceded the races.

Results were presented to the commission by Secretary of State Ken Detzner in a short ceremony void of fanfare. The meeting lasted a mere five minutes.

By law, the commission is made up of the governor and two of the three Cabinet members. But Scott said during the middle of the recount with Nelson that he wouldn’t participate in the certification. Instead, Republican Sen. Rob Bradley, Attorney General Pam Bondi and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, who lost the Republican primary for governor to DeSantis, served as the commission. Bondi and Putnam participated by phone.

In 2014, Scott and all three Cabinet members declined to serve because each was on the ballot.

The recounts after this year’s election were reminiscent of the 2000 presidential balloting, when Florida took more than five weeks to declare George W. Bush the victor over Vice President Al Gore by 537 votes. Florida became the laughingstock of the world during the chaotic recount that decided the presidency.

Florida was under scrutiny this year as elections officials in Palm Beach and Broward counties struggled to count the vote. Scott and President Donald Trump suggested there was fraud in the largely Democratic counties, and several lawsuits were filed during the process.

Lawmakers have said they will look at election laws during the 2019 legislative session to avoid future problems.