The tight and controversial Senate race in Florida between Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson and Republican challenger Rick Scott will go to a manual recount because the automatic machine recount that came to a conclusion on Thursday was unable to definitively decide the contest.
Florida election authorities authorized a manual recount of the ballots after the machine recount begun last weekend showed Scott, the state's current governor, with a narrow lead of 4,097,680 votes (50.07 percent) over Nelson, who has 4,085,086 votes (49.92 percent), although this was about the same margin the Republican had held over the senator after the initial count on Nov. 6.
Regarding the state's gubernatorial election, which also required a machine recount, Republican Ron DeSantis received 49.59 percent of the votes while his Democratic rival, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, received 49.18 percent.
The deadline for completing the manual recount of the Senate contest's votes is Sunday.
The latest results do not include the recount conducted in Palm Beach County, which has a sizable Democratic majority, since - election authorities there said - they were having to use "obsolete" machinery that kept breaking down and erasing recounted votes and consequently they could not finish by the Thursday deadline.
Scott said Thursday afternoon that the initial election and the recount had both come in with an advantage for him of some 13,000 votes and he asked that the Democrats concede rather than require election authorities to perform a third recount.
State law mandates that if the margin of victory for a candidate is closer than 0.25 percent, then a manual recount is obligatory.
Earlier on Thursday, federal Judge Mark Walker refused to extend the deadline for completing the machine recount an hour before the recount period was due to expire for the state's 67 counties.
Nelson earlier in the week had filed a lawsuit requesting the "necessary" time to allow all counties to count all the ballots cast in the Nov. 6 midterm elections.
In the initial vote count, Nelson obtained some 12,500 fewer votes (0.14 percent) than Republican candidate Rick Scott, the current Florida governor, and the margin separating the two men was close enough to force an obligatory recount, the deadline for completion of which was 3 pm on Thursday.
Walker said in his ruling that he was concerned that some counties might not complete their recounts by the deadline, although he said he had no detailed information about that and thus it was difficult to grant the request for extending the deadline.
Meanwhile, Broward and Miami-Dade Counties, two of the most populous Florida counties, had announced that they had finished their recounts, and 58 other counties of the state's 67 counties were reported to have completed their recounts as well.