What to know
Democrat Sen. Bill Nelson began preparing for a potential recount in a race that is still too close for a race with Governor Rick Scott
In the governor's race, Andrew Gillum's campaign said on Thursday that he was preparing for a possible recount, as Ron DeSantis's lead narrowed.
Tension continues to grow in Florida as the possibility of a recount continues to hover over the main races: the seat of the Florida governor, the Florida Senate seat, and the agriculture commissioner's headquarters.
By noon on Saturday, all 67 polling stations must send unofficial election results to Secretary of State Ken Detzner. Detzner will then review the results and decide if any rides need an automatic recount.
An automatic machine recount is requested if the races are within 0.5%. A manual recount is sorted if the margins are within 0.25%.
Prosecutors for the Florida Senate presidential race clashed in court late on Friday as the race appeared to be returning to a recount along with the governor's race.
Gov. Rick Scott, the Republican Senate candidate, is claiming that election officials in South Florida are trying to steal the Democratic presidential election, while President Donald Trump said officials are "finding votes from nowhere." Both claims were made without proof.
Scott's campaign filed a lawsuit demanding Broward's election supervisor Brenda Snipes delivered several records detailing the counting and collection of votes for each day of last week.
A hearing on the case was held Friday afternoon, where Judge Carol-Lisa Phillips said there had been a violation of the Florida Constitution and public records. The judge ordered Snipes to allow inspection of the records until 7:00 p.m. Friday.
Snipes's lawyers argued that demanding such a quick response would interfere with ongoing efforts to end the counting of Broward County bills. But Scott's lawyers have argued that the information should already be collected under state law and should take minutes to provide.
The information requested includes the ballots that have not yet been reviewed by Colporteório, banknotes of absences and early voting ballots.
Meanwhile, Democratic Senator Bill Nelson has begun to prepare for a possible recount in a race that is still very close to Scott, who is leaving the governor's chair because of the limits of his term. Nelson's lawyer called this "ball high" race, while Scott's campaign instigated Nelson to give in. Scott held a 0.18 percent lead over Nelson on Saturday.
Nelson said Friday that Scott is blocking the democratic process and trying to prevent all votes for the Senate race from being counted.
In the governor's race, Democrat Andrew Gillum's campaign said on Thursday he was preparing for a possible recount. The race has increased since he awarded Republican Ron DeSantis on Tuesday night. On Saturday morning, DeSantis led Gillum by 0.44 percentage points.
Florida is a perennial state, and many of its elections have been decided by the thinnest margin since 2000 when Florida ruled the presidency by 537 votes in a dispute that took more than five weeks to resolve. Still, the state has never seen so many dead heats in a year.
And as in 2000, the counting process is becoming controversial.
Scott told a news conference late Thursday that he is urging the Florida Department of Police to investigate Democratic Democratic presidential offices in Palm Beach and Broward, questioning whether they are taking too long to count votes in some sort of effort to inflate the Democratic vote.
"I will not stand idly by while unethical liberals try to steal this election from the great people of Florida," Scott said.
While the Florida Department of Law Enforcement said on Friday that there were no allegations of fraud, Scott asked – but did not order – that the agency investigate counties' electoral departments for possible fraud. A spokesman for the agency said there is no active investigation.
Broward County has been under the microscope, as it has been criticized for delays in counting votes.
Snipes said he did not know how many ballots were yet to be counted, but they were all being processed. She also did not know how many provisional, military and misidentified ballots need to be counted. His department's website said Election Day ballots were counted.
Snipes appeared to blame the delays in voting duration during a brief interview with NBC 6 Thursday night.
"I thought I answered, you know we have five or six pages," Snipes said.
Broward officials said they would revert to provisional ballots on Friday afternoon. Before the start of the count, a group of demonstrators staged a demonstration in front of the elction office, waving signs and singing "Brenda Snipes has to leave."
The Palm Beach County Board of Retirees also met on Friday for the opening and the search for ballot papers and provisional ballots.
Palm Beach elections supervisor Susan Bucher said they are expected to finish on Friday and prepare for recounts. She also spoke against criticism of delays.
"I felt that it is very unfortunate that some of the highest elected officials in our country are trying to disrupt our democracy because they do not like the demographics of our constituents, I wish they would allow us to continue counting the bills, we are just doing our job accordingly with the law, "Bucher said.
At his news conference late Thursday, Scott did not cite any evidence of irregularities, and counties have until noon on Saturday to report their count of unofficial votes. FDLE spokeswoman Gretl Plessinger said the law enforcement agency would follow Scott's request. But the agency did not announce an investigation.
Nelson's campaign issued a statement saying that Scott's action appears to be politically motivated and charged with despair.
Meanwhile, President Donald Trump tweeted, "Law Enforcement is investigating another major corruption scandal related to Electoral Fraud in #Broward and Palm Beach. Florida voted for Rick Scott!"
Trump also said it was possible for the federal government to get involved in counting votes in Florida. "Suddenly, they are finding votes out of nowhere," he said. "What's happening in Florida is a disgrace."
Under Florida law, recount is mandatory if the winning candidate's margin is less than 0.5 percentage point when the first unofficial count is verified on Saturday by the Florida Secretary of State.
Sarah Revell, a spokeswoman for the Florida Department of State, did not know of any other recounts in a government or Senate race in state history.
Gillum's campaign said he hired lawyer Barry Richard, who represented President George W. Bush in the 2000 recount, and is monitoring the situation. Gillum's campaign said its initial grant on Tuesday night was based on the "best available information on the number of votes pending" at the time.
"Since that time, it has become clear that there are many more untold ballots than originally announced," the campaign said. "We are committed to ensuring that all votes in Florida are counted."
DeSantis declined to discuss the recount prospects, telling reporters he was "too proud to be elected."
"We are working very hard on the transition," he said. "Let's let the lawyers do what they have to do, but we're fine and I'm looking forward to serving."
Florida was ridiculed for dealing with the infamous 2000 recount. At the time, the state had no uniform rules on how to proceed. This has changed, with the Legislature passing a clear procedure on how a recount should be conducted.
"That's not like in 2000. There's not much room for strategy," Richard said.
Marc Elias, a lawyer hired by Nelson, said he expects the margin to decline further.
"The results of the 2018 Senate election are unknown and I think you and the election authorities should treat it as such," Elias told reporters on teleconference. "We believe that, at the end of this process, Senator Nelson will be declared the winner."
Once Florida counties submit their unofficial election results to the State Department, Secretary of State Ken Detzner, a Scott nominee, will review the results and decide whether to request recounts.
In a third statewide seat – the position of the agriculture commissioner's cabinet – the candidates were separated by 483 votes in more than 8 million people – a margin of 0.006 percent.
Copyright Associated Press / NBC 6 South Florida