By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Correspondent
Democrat Andrew Gillum officially withdrew his concession to Republican former Rep. Ron DeSantis in the Florida governor’s race on Saturday.
Gillum’s announcement came after the Secretary of State announced a recount of their race and that of the Florida Senate race between Republican Gov. Rick Scott and Democratic challenger Bill Nelson.
“I am replacing my words of concession with an uncompromised and unapologetic call that we count every single vote,” Gillum said. “We’ve learned in various parts of this state that there are still votes that are outstanding. There’s even still in parts of this state some uncertainty around the total number of votes that are remaining to be cast.”
DeSantis leads Gillum in the unofficial count by about 34,000 votes, with 49.59 percent to the Gillum’s 49.18 percent. An automatic recount occurs when neither candidate reaches 50 percent.
In Nelson’s case, he has continued to close in on Scott since Tuesday night.
What’s more, on Sunday, Florida’s election overseer said there were far too many outstanding ballots that needed counting and he was certain a recount would not be completed by the coming Thursday deadline.
Reportedly, the elections board in Florida’s Miami-Dade County has collected a set of mysterious ballots in the Opa-locka mail facility after Democrats raised concern about the uncounted votes.
The uncounted ballots have emerged as one of many battles over the fiercely contested Florida elections that moved this weekend into a recount phase.
Suzy Trutie, a spokesperson for the county’s supervisor of elections, told CNN there were 266 ballots in the shipment and that the votes will not be counted. Florida law requires all ballots sent by mail to arrive at the election facility by 7 p.m. on Election Day, and these ballots did not meet that standard, Trutie said.
The New York Times noted that the mere mention of Florida these days still evokes nightmares for Democrats who worked closely with Vice President Al Gore 18 years ago. Florida’s 25 electoral votes at the time — and the presidency itself — were up in the air for 36 grueling days while ballots were recounted and the country watched and waited. The drama ended with an indecipherable but wholly consequential Supreme Court decision that put Mr. Bush in office.
“It’s inconceivable that 18 years after 2000, Florida still hasn’t developed competencies in terms of counting ballots in an orderly and timely manner,” one former top Gore aide who did not want to be named for “fear of stirring up old ghosts,” told the Times.
In Florida, even local journalists are haunted by the Gush-Bore debacle.
“The Mother of All Recounts was the 2000 Presidential Election, which gave us all variety of chads – hanging, dimpled and pregnant, butterfly ballots, overvotes and undercounts, and chants of Sore Loserman by Brooks Brothers Rioters,” Jeffrey Schweers wrote for the Tallahassee Democrat Newspaper.
The recount battle spawned conspiracy theories, unfounded claims of voter fraud, and lawsuits that went to the Florida Supreme Court to the U.S. Supreme Court and back. It also launched election reforms that have spread across the country.
“So many reforms were implemented here first,” Former Leon County Supervisor of Elections Ion Sancho told Schweers. “It’s a great legacy we have here in in Florida.”
Florida’s mishandling of that election became a national joke for late night talk show hosts. “It also made Florida the poster child for election reform, a lesson we still haven’t quite got right,” he said.
“Every election since, something seems to go wrong and the final tally gets delayed.”