According to reports from Broward County, after election officials failed to submit the results of the machine recount in time — which showed Republicans' vote margins increasing — thus nullifying them, they managed to get through the hand recount much more quickly than Democrats hoped they would.
Mother Jones' Pema Levy, who has been tracking the developments in Broward and Palm Beach, reported Friday that the hand recount had already wrapped up, and incumbent Democrat Sen. Bill Nelson "didn't come close" to making up the votes he needed to try to catch up with Republican Rick Scott.
"The hand recount in Broward is over for the Senate race," Levy tweeted. "It was a blur it went so fast. Looks like Nelson didn't come close to making up the ground he needs."
In a piece for Mother Jones, Levy gave some more details on Nelson's rapidly fading hopes of winning re-election in what had quickly become apparent was going to be a "bad day" for Democrats. "As the hand recount in Florida’s contentious Senate election got underway in Broward County, it quickly became clear that Democrats were headed for a bad day," she wrote. "This is the county where incumbent Democrat Bill Nelson needed to net thousands of new votes on Friday. But minutes into the recount, that became unlikely."
Heading into the recounts, Republican Rick Scott led Nelson by 12,536 votes. Nelson's hopes of defying historical precedent and making up all those votes rested in the Democrat strongholds of Broward County and Palm Beach County. In Broward, tens of thousands of ballots contained no votes in the Senate race, which Democrats were hoping a hand recount would find to have been incorrectly read by the machines and would heavily favor Democrats.
But when officials burned through the ballots quickly Friday morning, it became clear that what Republicans had been saying all along was the case: People had simply failed to vote on that race for whatever reason.
If anyone's to blame, as Levy notes, "It’s likely ballot design that put a significant dent in Nelson’s vote totals here in Broward County, and may have cost him the race." Many have noted that the Senate race was listed right underneath the instructions for the ballot, and some voters probably just didn't see it, and didn't notice that they hadn't voted on the big Senate race to go back and double-check. And who was in charge of that ballot design? Democrat elections supervisor Brenda Snipes' office.
Another possible reason for the Senate no vote is simply that some Democrat voters, while enthused about voting for Andrew Gillum — who trails Republican Ron DeSenatis by an even larger margin (over 33,000 votes) — were not exciting about making sure Nelson got to keep his seat for six more years.
As for the hand recount in Palm Beach, Levy reports that a similar situation might play out. "Word here is they have about 5k ballots to check and that it will take less than 2 hours," she tweeted just after noon.