Will Florida’s vote counting deadline be extended? Attorneys for U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson file lawsuit Tuesday to give elections supervisors more time

Bill Nelson Rick Scott
Bill Nelson/Rick Scott

Recount logoAttorneys for Florida Democratic Senator Bill Nelson’s campaign filed a lawsuit in federal court on Tuesday calling on the Florida Secretary of State’s office to extend the deadlines for the machine and hand recounts in his race for U.S. Senate throughout the state.

A Leon County court case Tuesday also raised the possibility of extending vote counting deadlines – at least in Palm Beach County.

Nelson currently trails Republican Rick Scott by less than 13,000 votes in the race for Senate, a difference of 0.15%.

A machine recount for all 67 counties is required to be completed by this Thursday afternoon at 3 p.m., but election officials in Palm Beach County have expressed concerns that they may not be able to make that deadline –  or the noon Sunday deadline for a subsequent hand recount that would likely follow because the race is so close.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has also signed onto the case.

Under Florida law, if a local canvassing board fails to timely complete and report the results of a machine and/or manual recount, the state reverts back to the previously reported vote totals from last Saturday.

Tim Cerio, an attorney for Rick Scott, said on a conference call on Tuesday that 25 out of the state’s 67 counties have already completed their machine recounts, with Clay County in northeast Florida as the only county which hasn’t yet started its machine recount.

The suit says that if Palm Beach County and other counties are not able to complete the manual recount by noon Sunday, “valid votes cast by Floridians for the office of U.S. Senator which were improperly rejected as ‘overvotes’ or ‘undervotes’ will not be counted and these voters will be disenfranchised through no fault of their own.”

This lawsuit joins a growing list of legal actions filed over the disputed election recount, and it’s not clear when a judge will hear it. Another lawsuit filed by the Nelson campaign in federal court – that one dealing with the law that requires a voter’s signature on the ballot to match one on file – will be heard by a federal judge in Tallahassee Wednesday.





Mitch Perry
Mitch Perry has spent the past 18 years covering news and politics in the Sunshine State, most recently with FloridaPolitics.com. He worked for five years as the political editor of Creative Loafing in Tampa, and before that he was the assistant news director at WMNF radio, where he served as creator/anchor/producer of the hour-long WMNF Evening News. A San Francisco native, Mitch began his career at KPFA Radio in Berkeley in the 1990's.


  1. Seniors afflicted with arthritis in the fingers can have signatures change year to year. I know mine has. I registered to vote 9 years ago and my signature now does not match what it was then. It’s close but with an untrained person checking signatures, which should be illegal, mine would no doubt be voided. This is so unfair to everyone who has some change in their handwriting.. Rick Scott will do anything to win. He is a disgrace to the people of Florida. He’s ruined tourism to the state by disregarding the beaches and waters.. We had land for the runoff from polluted sugar farms but he let the lease expire and kept the money. He should be in jail..


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