The Latest: Judge rejects challenge to rules of hand recount

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — The Latest on the Florida recount (all times local):

7:55 a.m.

A Florida judge is rejecting a challenge to the rules that will be used in a hand recount in the state’s contentious U.S. Senate race.

U.S. District Judge Mark Walker late Thursday ruled against Sen. Bill Nelson and Democrats in another one of the lawsuits surrounding the recount.

During the hand recount, election officials look at just the ballots that weren’t recorded by voting machines.

Under state law, voters must use only approved markings or their ballot is disqualified. And they can’t simply cross out a mistaken vote but must explain in writing why they did so. The lawsuit contends that has a discriminatory effect on non-native English speakers and illiterate voters.

But Walker found the rules were reasonable and constitutional.

Florida counties must finish the hand recount by Sunday.

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12:30 a.m.

Florida’s bitter U.S. Senate contest is headed to a legally required hand recount after an initial review by ballot-counting machines showed Republican Gov. Rick Scott and Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson separated by less than 13,000 votes.

But the contest for Florida governor between Republican Ron DeSantis and Democrat Andrew Gillum appeared to be over Thursday, with a machine recount showing DeSantis with a large enough advantage over Gillum to avoid a hand recount in that race. Gillum said in a statement, however, that “it is not over until every legally casted vote is counted.”

The recount has been fraught with problems. One large Democratic stronghold in South Florida was unable to finish its machine recount by the Thursday deadline due to machines breaking down. A federal judge rejected a request to extend the recount deadline.