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Florida orders recount of midterm votes amid claims of fraud

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Protesters demonstrate outside the Broward County Supervisor of Elections Office, on November 10, 2018, in Lauderhill, Florida. (Photo by AFP)

The US state of Florida has ordered a recount of the votes for state governor and senator more than three days after the polls closed in contested midterm elections.

According to unofficial results filed by the counties, Republican Governor Rick Scott leads incumbent Democratic Senator Bill Nelson by more than 12,500 votes, or a gap of just 0.15 percent, in the race for the Senate.

In the governor’s race, former Republican congressman Ron DeSantis is ahead of Andrew Gillum, the Democratic mayor of Tallahassee, by nearly 34,000 votes, or 0.41 percent.

Scott and DeSantis had declared victory in the gubernatorial and Senate races on Tuesday.

Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner said that a recount was required by law as unofficial results in both races were within a close margin of 0.5 percent.

The two ballots are among the most important yet to be decided in the country.

'Stealing' the elections

President Donald Trump responded to the recount by accusing Democrats of trying to "steal" the elections.

Trump's previous attacks on the state recounts prompted Democrats to accuse the president of attempting to shut down the process before all the votes were counted.

“This process is about one thing: making sure every legal ballot is counted and protecting the right of every Floridian to participate in our democracy," Nelson said in a statement.

Governor Scott, who is standing for the Senate, also warned of electoral fraud.

The recounts are expected to take several days, but election experts say possible legal challenges could drag the process on for weeks before the winners are confirmed.

Concession withdrawn 

After the recount was announced, Gillum withdrew his concession to DeSantis in the gubernatorial race on Saturday.

Florida gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum holds a press conference on November 10, 2018 in Tallahassee, Florida. (Photo by AFP)

"I am replacing my words of concession with an uncompromised and unapologetic call that we count every single vote," the Democratic candidate said.

DeSantis, however, insisted that the results were "clear and unambiguous, just as they were on election night."

"It is important that everyone involved in the election process strictly adhere to the rule of law which is the foundation for our nation," the Republican mayor added.

On the Senate side, Scott's campaign welcomed the recount by urging Nelson to withdraw from the race, an option he can choose under state law.

Florida Governor Rick Scott pauses as he becomes emotional while speaking as he stands with his wife, Ann Scott, (L) and daughter Alison Guimard during his election night party at the LaPlaya Beach & Golf Resort, on November 06, 2018 in Naples, Florida. (Photo by AFP)

"It's time for Senator Nelson to accept reality and spare the state of Florida the time, expense and discord of a recount," said Scott spokesman Chris Hartline.

Nelson, however, showed no signs of backing down. "We believe when every legal ballot is counted, we'll win this election," he said in a statement.

Every vote counts

Meanwhile, protesters gathered outside of the Broward County Board of Elections office for a second day on Saturday amid claims of voter fraud in the elections.

The protesters held up signs in support of Democratic and Republican candidates in Senate and gubernatorial races as counting continued in the office, chanting "every vote counts."

Many Republican protesters are angry at Brenda Snipes, the county’s election supervisor, following a number of tweets by Trump suggesting electoral fraud in the county.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement said on Friday it was told by the Department of State that they had received "no allegation of criminal activity."

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