The election overseer for a critical county in Florida confirmed to CNN on Sunday what observers in both parties had begun to predict: There is no way Palm Beach County’s machine recount will be finished by the Thursday deadline.
“It’s impossible,” said Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher in response to CNN asking if officials would be able to finish the full recount on time.
The prediction came as a rare point of agreement between Democrats and Republicans in the state, who have engaged in a tense fight since Tuesday’s election brought tight margins in statewide races.
Sarah Revell, the communications director for the Florida Department of State, told CNN’s Ana Cabrera that if a county does not submit its results by deadline, “then the results on file at that time take their place,” she said.
Revell added that Florida law does not give the secretary of state the authority to grant extensions.
Palm Beach County GOP Chairman Michael Barnett told CNN that the county’s inability to meet the deadline would be “good news for Republicans because our candidates are ahead.”
“If they’re not able to meet the deadline, the secretary of state of Florida may go ahead and certify the elections for our candidates,” Barnett said. “In that case, you can bet your butt there will be lawsuits filed everywhere.”
Barnett was critical of the infrastructure, saying: “It’s an outdated process. The machinery is old. They don’t have enough updated machinery to go through all the ballots to run one election, let alone all three statewide races.”
In addition to the Senate race between Republican Gov. Rick Scott and Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson, there are also state-mandated recounts underway in the races for governor, which is led by Republican former Rep. Ron DeSantis, and state agriculture commissioner, which is led by Democrat Nikki Fried.
Volunteers are using a total of eight machines to recount the hundreds of thousand votes cast in the county.
“We want to make sure the election process is fair, that there are no irregularities of problems,” Barnett added. “And I will say, compared to Broward County, we have it really good.”
Democratic lawyers, who have been rotating in and out all day, largely concurred with the Republican assessment.
One attorney who is volunteering on behalf of the Nelson campaign said the Democrats do not yet have a clear sense of whether the Senate recount will be finished by the deadline. That the county could finish all three, the lawyer added, was extremely doubtful.
Part of the reason the Democrats don’t have as much clarity as they would like is that Bucher has not provided them with clear enough numbers, making it difficult to project out the next few days, the lawyer said.
Despite their concerns over making the deadline, Democrats here said they are not worried about the integrity of the process. Representatives from both parties praised the volunteers and made note of the quiet, friendly atmosphere inside the massive warehouse where the work is being done.