High-profile elections in Florida remain unresolved more than two days after the midterms vote, with the prospect of legal challenges, recounts and ballot reviews setting the stage for possible weeks of uncertainty.
The still-undecided races will not tip the balance in either chamber of Congress but include contests in parts of the country important to the futures of both parties and potentially to President Donald Trump’s re-election chances in two years.
In Florida’s US Senate race, Republican Governor Rick Scott, with his lead over Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson narrowing, filed lawsuits against election supervisors in two counties accusing them of failing to follow election law. A spokesman for Mr Nelson, Dan McLaughlin, said the lawsuits were politically motivated and “borne out of desperation.”
The Florida governor’s race between Republican Ron DeSantis and Democrat Andrew Gillum also appears headed for an automatic recount, after Mr DeSantis’ lead narrowed, despite Nr Gillum having already conceded.
Democrats on Tuesday won their first majority in the US House of Representatives since 2010, while Republicans appeared likely to expand their two-seat advantage in the US Senate.
Another cluster of races in the lower house where votes are still being finalised could add to the Democrats’ new majority, strengthening their hand as they seek to counter Mr Trump’s policies.
According to media outlet calls and the data company DDHQ, Democrats now have flipped 32 seats – nine more than they needed to take over the House – with seven Republican-held districts still too close to call, including four in California, where many ballots are yet to be counted.
In Florida, Mr Scott’s lead was narrowing on Thursday. Mr Nelson trailed by around 15,000 votes, or 0.18 per cent, within the state’s 0.25 threshold for a hand recount.
“The results are unknown,” said Marc Elias, an attorney for Mr Nelson’s campaign. Historically, Democrats tend to pick up votes in recounts, especially hand recounts, he said.
Mr Elias also pledged legal action if the campaign found that rejected ballots due to signature mismatches were disproportionately hurting minority voters.
Mr Scott’s lawsuits accuse Broward County Supervisor of Elections Brenda Snipes and Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher of mishandling the ballot count and preventing observers from having full access as votes are counted. Ms Snipes and Ms Bucher did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Mr Scott also said he was asking the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to investigate.
“I will not sit idly by while unethical liberals try to steal this election,” Mr Scott told reporters.
In the Florida governor’s race, Mr DeSantis’ lead had winnowed to about 38,500 votes on Thursday afternoon, or 0.47 per cent of the vote. The state conducts an electronic recount when the margin falls below 0.5 per cent.
Mr Gillum’s campaign said it was prepared for any outcome, including a recount.
“We want every vote counted,” Mr Gillum said in a video posted to Facebook on Thursday. “In spite of the fact that we’re a little bit down in the numbers, we’re hopeful that every single vote will be counted in this race.”