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Plant City Observer Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018 1 week ago

Florida elections epitome of close calls

Several Florida elections may be sent to an automatic recount due to the results lingering under a half of one percent difference between candidates.
by: Breanne Williams Staff Writer

Election Day brought millions of Floridians to the polls with many waiting in lines for hours as they attempted to cast their ballots. These are the unofficial results as a finalized tally was not available by press time.

Republican Gov. Rick Scott will more than likely be Florida’s new senator thanks to once again sliding through the election with a sliver of a lead. If elected he would oust Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson, who has held the seat since 2001.

As of press time the race looks to be heading toward a recount. As more precincts reported the margin narrowed to less than one-half percentage point. 

For a recount the 67 County Supervisors of Election would recheck the total tally.

As of early Wednesday, only approximately 34,500 votes separated the two candidates. Nelson’s office said the race was headed for a recount since the margin between the two was under half a percent. 

Scott’s campaign replied by saying, “The race is over.”

It was easily one of the most contentious races in the midterms and was the last to call Tuesday night. Scott declared victory Tuesday night and used more than $50 million of his own money to fund his race. This was the most expensive Senate race in the entire 2018 midterms with more than $100 million spent total.

“It’s hard to believe we’re here tonight,” Scott said during his victory speech. “This campaign is behind us and that’s where we’re going to leave it.”

Ron DeSantis is the declared governor-elect after receiving 49.7% of votes over opponent Andrew Gillum, who had 49.1% of votes. DeSantis thanked President Donald Trump for supporting him and vowed to further the progress he believed has been made by Governor Rick Scott.

“I was at peace knowing that I worked as hard as I possibly could and I left everything out on the field,” DeSantis said during his victory speech.

Plant City native Ashley Moody will become Florida’s next attorney general. Moody is a former judge and a federal prosecutor and was endorsed by Attorney General Pam Bondi.

Republican Matt Caldwell, an eight-year veteran of the Florida House of Representatives declared victory over Democrat Nicole “Nikki” Fried after having a half-point lead Tuesday night. Caldwell is a strong supporter of the second amendment and spent his campaign promising to be committed to the environment. The race will head to a recount due to the narrow margin between the two candidates.

Voters approved 11 of the 12 amendments to the Florida Constitution. Throughout the election voters frequently commented on the confusing language and “bundled” issues where several amendments featured items not related to each other. Of the amendments approved a few are drawing national attention.

Most notably, Floridians agreed to restore voting rights to approximately 1.4 million ex-felons.

Ex-felons that completed their sentences and that did not commit murder or felony sex offenses now can get their voting right restored thanks to the landslide passing of Amendment 4. 

That will potentially affect 1.4 million people. However, some of the 1.4 million are those excluded due to the severity of their convictions.

Other highlights include Amendment 3, which put the decision on Florida gambling in the hands of the voters rather than with the Florida legislature.

Amendment 12 is another hot topic. The passage of the change to the constitution means that there are now stricter and longer lobbying restrictions for state and local elected officials, judges and public employees.

Floridians also voted to ban greyhound racing throughout the state by 2021 with the passage of Amendment 13.

The only Amendment not passed was Amendment 1, which would have created another homestead exemption for those who have a taxable value of $100,000 to $125,000.

Both of Hillsborough’s referendums were passed by local voters Tuesday night with 56% of the vote. The half-penny tax increase takes the sales tax from 7% to 7.5% and all of the funds will go to the improvement of public schools.

“The people have spoken and they support our students,” Superintendent Jeff Eakins said in a statement. “This overwhelming approval of the half-penny sales tax shows the deep care and understanding the people of Hillsborough County have for education, our students, our teachers and staff and the future of our community.”

The All for Transportation sales tax plan received 57% of the vote. The funds will be spent on roads, trails, sidewalks, buses and mass transit.

“We are humbled by tonight’s results, which confirm that Hillsborough County is ready to invest in a transportation plan that truly benefits every part of the county,” All for Transportation Chair Tyler Hudson said in a news release. “From the beginning, All for Transportation did things differently. From this different approach came a different outcome: victory for the Hillsborough County citizens who are ready for a better transportation system.”

The Hillsborough County Canvassing Board will meet as scheduled today at 5 p.m. at the Elections Service Center to certify the first unofficial election results for the 2018 General Election. The board will decide tonight if any races require a recount, which will only happen if someone has the lead by one half of a percent or less of the total votes cast.


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