Hillsborough Co. certifies initial results after recount malfunction

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If Bill Nelson was hoping the machine recount would help him chip away at Rick Scott's lead in the race for U.S. Senate in Hillsborough County, he came away empty-handed.

After four days of re-counting more than 500,000 votes, officials wound up tallying approximately 800 fewer votes for Nelson than on election night. 

The county cited state law in submitting its initial unofficial results as the official ones. The percentages between the candidates were the same. 

Officials believe a brief power flicker during re-counting may have led to the discrepancy.

"We feel very strongly that those first unofficial results were, in fact, good results," said elections supervisor Craig Latimer. "I was very disappointed that this happened. Out of an abundance of caution and in transparency too, I could not go forward with 800 [fewer] votes, that's inappropriate."

State recount: Judge sides with Democrats on fixing ballot signatures

The Nelson camp is hoping a judge's extension until Saturday to allow voters to fix signatures on ballots, that were rejected because of mismatches, will chip away at Scott's lead ahead of a manual recount.

When asked if the Nelson team still had a chance to win the race, lawyer Chris Griffin said, "Absolutely, that is why we are counting all the votes. That is what this process is all about."

Gaining significant votes from the signature extension may be tough. 

Voters were contacted about the discrepancies ahead of election day, but Nelson now needs them to again realize they're allowed to come forward. 

Even by mid-afternoon, the state had not given supervisors instructions on how to react to the judge's order.

The supervisor says anyone who has a ballot that needs what is called "curing" should bring it to his office because there's no more time for mailing.

"If they don't get us an oath it is for sure not going to be counted," said Latimer.

Latimer says the four days given to recount the votes are not enough for a large county.

One power flicker, for instance, is enough to knock the whole thing out of whack, without enough time to make up for the accident.

Latimer wants the state legislature to extend recount times.

Anyone who wants to check the status of their mail ballot in Hillsborough County can visit the elections website, https://www.votehillsborough.org/About-Voting/My-Registration-Status.