A Host Of Elections Still Aren't Settled And They're Getting Contentious

21 hours ago
Originally published on November 9, 2018 8:02 pm
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MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

It is no longer Election Day, but it sure feels like it in a few parts of the country. In Georgia, in Florida, in Arizona, there are big races still too close to call. Need I tell you, lawsuits have been filed. And the president of the United States, before heading overseas, he weighed in today on one of those contentious races - the Florida Senate.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: All of a sudden, they're finding votes out of nowhere. And Rick Scott, who won by - you know, it was close, but he won by a comfortable margin. Every couple of hours, it goes down a little bit.

KELLY: Rick Scott, a reference there to the governor of Florida, who would like to become a senator from Florida. NPR's lead political editor Domenico Montanaro is here. Hey there.

DOMENICO MONTANARO, BYLINE: Hey there.

KELLY: What is going on in Florida?

MONTANARO: Well, first of all, a little bit of a fact check on the president. I mean, you know, these are provisional ballots and not at all outside the normal range of what happens in close elections. This happens every single time, and it's happened once...

KELLY: It takes a while to count all the votes and have them all come in. Yeah.

MONTANARO: There's a big difference between what's projected on election night and the vote that winds up having to be counted before it can be certified, so just to put that out there. Right now in Florida, we're seeing the two marquee statewide races for governor and Senate are likely headed to state-mandated recounts. That's because they're both within the 0.5 percentage-point margin to trigger that. We'll probably find something out about that tomorrow to figure out where that's going to go.

And we're - if a machine recount - this is what would be ordered - happens, and the race, especially for the Senate, which right now is within this margin, is within 0.25 percentage points - really narrow - then a manual recount would be triggered, which is - this is a huge state. That's a lot of manual work to do. And the earliest we'd see results from that would be next Saturday. And it's of course gotten...

KELLY: Next Saturday, a week from tomorrow?

MONTANARO: A week from tomorrow.

KELLY: OK.

MONTANARO: Right. And, you know, it's already gotten ugly. We heard Rick Scott talk about, you know, how liberals - he thinks - are trying to steal the election, pointing to election officials in south Florida. And the president we heard there weighing in.

KELLY: OK. Now, that's the Senate race. What about on the governor's race in Florida, which Andrew Gillum, the Democratic candidate, conceded on Tuesday night?

MONTANARO: He did. But, you know, concessions are really political terms of art, (laughter) you know? We saw Al Gore, for example, in the 2000 presidential race concede to President Bush. But if the Senate - if the Supreme Court...

KELLY: And then take it back.

MONTANARO: Of - well, if the Supreme Court had gone any differently, he would have happily gone on to be president, so let's just put that out there. And, you know, as these provisional ballots and other votes have been counted, the race between Gillum and the Republican, Ron DeSantis, who is ahead, has gotten tighter.

KELLY: Pause with me for a moment just to (laughter) note we are talking Florida - you mentioned Al Gore - we're talking Florida, the home of the hanging chad, where all this is unfolding.

MONTANARO: (Laughter) Absolutely. Lots of close races over the years.

KELLY: Yeah. Walk over the state line to Georgia with me and talk about the governor's race, where Republican Brian Kemp has declared himself a winner. But it's not over there yet either?

MONTANARO: That's right. That race is still considered too close to call. Kemp is barely above the 50 percent threshold to avoid a runoff. Lawsuits have been filed there by Democrats about how the election was administered. Remember, there were a lot of voters waiting in very long lines for hours and hours on Election Day. And we're still days away from any finality of where that race is going. But Kemp is ahead.

KELLY: And the latest in Arizona, where the Senate race there is still too close to call?

MONTANARO: Another tight race and another one where the president tweeted questioning the election results, saying that there were the signatures that were counted twice. Yes, signatures get looked at. If they don't match, they don't get counted. So he should talk to the Republican secretary of state (laughter) in that state for how that's administered.

KELLY: And any timing on when we might know what's going on in Arizona?

MONTANARO: Well, right now the Republican, Martha McSally, is leading - was leading on election night. Now Kyrsten Sinema has edged out a small lead. There are still some 300,000 ballots left to be counted for early votes that were delivered on Election Day. So that could take a week or so. And the race could still go either way.

KELLY: NPR's Domenico Montanaro, thanks as ever.

MONTANARO: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.