Florida Republican Gov. Rick Scott is filing three more lawsuits against county election officials as the recounting of votes in Florida gets underway for three midterm election contests.
Scott is running for the U.S. Senate seat against incumbent Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson. When a recount of the Senate votes was ordered on Nov. 10, Scott held a slim lead over Nelson at 12,500 votes, or 0.15 percent. His narrow lead of less than 0.5 percent triggered a recount as per Florida law.
Scott filed another lawsuit late on Nov. 10 against Broward County officials, alleging that Brenda Snipes, the supervisor of elections for Broward County, had continued counting some ballots after the deadline at noon on Nov. 10. Scott requested that any ballots counted after the deadline be disregarded, saying that to include them would break state law.
More than an hour past the noon deadline, the Broward County Canvassing Board continued to count ballots, violating state law. Senator Nelson has no objection to this illegal activity. This shows Nelson’s true colors. No law is above him when his job is at stake. pic.twitter.com/FfiewGV5Dy
— Rick Scott (@ScottforFlorida) November 10, 2018
The other two lawsuits were filed Nov. 11, one against Snipes and another against Susan Bucher, the supervisor of elections for Palm Beach County. In the motion, Scott requested that police seize all voting machines, tallying equipment, and ballots when they aren’t in use, until the recount is finalized. The lawsuits also requested that both Snipes and Bucher preserve all ballots and records linked to the 2018 midterm elections.
“The Broward and Palm Beach County Supervisors of Elections have already demonstrated a blatant disregard for Florida’s elections laws, making it more important than ever that we continue to do everything possible to prevent fraud and ensure this recount is operated responsibly,” Chris Hartline, a spokesman for Scott’s campaign, said in a statement.
Here’s what you need to know about the recount process in Florida. pic.twitter.com/FBPEFvye2t
— Florida GOP (@FloridaGOP) November 10, 2018
Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner has ordered the tallying of more than 8.2 million votes to be finished within five days. If any race ends up with a margin of less than 0.25 percent, a manual recount will follow.
Earlier Lawsuits From Scott, Nelson
Both Democrats and Republicans in Florida filed lawsuits after the close of voting on Nov. 6, questioning the integrity of the election.
Earlier on Nov. 9, Nelson had filed a lawsuit against Detzner alleging suppression of votes. Under Florida law, absentee and provisional ballots need to be signed by voters and the signatures need to match those authorities have on record. The suit demanded, however, that ballots with signatures not matching those on record be counted as valid.
Democratic Party lawyer Marc Elias, who is a partner at Perkins Coie, argued that the process of matching signatures was inconsistent across counties, and that discarding votes with mismatched signatures would result in suppressing the voices of minority and young voters who are disproportionately represented in mismatched ballots.
Scott’s campaign manager Jackie Schutz Zeckman said Nelson’s lawsuit is asking “the federal courts to allow voter fraud.”
Bill Nelson believes fraudulent ballots should be counted in this election. …That’s what career politicians are willing to do to protect their own job. It’s wrong. We will not let him disrespect the will of the voters. pic.twitter.com/AtBBBNLoID
— Rick Scott (@ScottforFlorida) November 11, 2018
Scott had also earlier filed two separate lawsuits against Snipes and Bucher on Nov. 8, and won both suits by Nov. 9.
On Nov. 8 and 9, President Donald Trump alleged on Twitter that the Democrats were trying to steal the Florida election.
As soon as Democrats sent their best Election stealing lawyer, Marc Elias, to Broward County they miraculously started finding Democrat votes. Don’t worry, Florida – I am sending much better lawyers to expose the FRAUD!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 9, 2018
Trying to STEAL two big elections in Florida! We are watching closely!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 10, 2018
Despite the allegations, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) has yet to open a probe on its own as it has received no referral of criminal activity from the Florida Department of State, which oversees the elections. FDLE had at least two election officials posted in Broward County for the vote counting process.
Attorney General Pam Bondi, in a letter to FDLE Commissioner Rick Swearingen on Nov. 11, strongly urged the agency to investigate the conduct of election officials in Broward and Palm Beach counties and “take the necessary steps to promote public safety and to assure that our state will guarantee integrity in our election process.”
The FDLE is an independent law enforcement agency, so it isn’t required to follow any directives from Bondi or her office, according to the Miami Herald.