A judge found Broward County violated the constitution by not following open records laws and ordered election officials to comply by 7 p.m. on Nov. 9.
The ruling did not address the allegations of fraud, reported NBC6’s Jamie Guirola. The ruling is in favor of Florida Gov. Rick Scott, a Republican who is running for the U.S. Senate seat against incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson, a Democrat.
Broward Supervisor of Elections Brenda Snipes now must “allow immediate” viewing and copying of records that were requested, CBS Miami reported.
“This information Supervisor of Elections should have already compiled and saved,” one of Scott’s lawyers said to CBS Miami, “It should take 10 minutes to do.”
Snipes violated that law by not turning over the information to attorneys for Scott’s Senate bid as well as the National Republican Senatorial Committee, Broward County District Court Judge Carol Lisa Phillips ruled, WESH-TV reported.
“Once again this court finds that Broward County is under the nation’s microscope because of an election,” Phillips said in the ruling, according to a WFTV reporter Field Sutton. She added: “This court finds that there has been a violation of the constitution and the public records act in the withholding of public records.”
Scott also filed a second lawsuit against Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher, saying she’s refused to allow his representatives to personally witness the ballot counting process. The suit also accuses her of preventing county canvassing board officials from performing its duties, the WESH report said.
Scott holds a slim lead over Nelson in the race. Under Florida law, a recount is mandatory if the winning candidate’s margin is less than 0.5 percentage points.
Scott has argued in a court filing earlier this week “[t]wo days after voting has concluded, the Supervisor of Elections is unwilling to disclose records revealing how many electors voted, how many ballots have been canvassed, and how many ballots remain to be canvassed,” Law and Crime reported.
“The lack of transparency raises substantial concerns about the validity of the election process,” Scott’s filing continued. “An emergency hearing is necessary as the Canvassing Board is obligated to submit the unofficial elections results to the Division of Elections by noon November 10, 2018. A recount in at least two, possibly three, of the statewide races appears likely.”
President Donald Trump weighed in on the controversy on Nov. 9. Scott, he tweeted, was up by more than 50,000 votes on Election Day.
“Now they ‘found’ many votes and he is only up 15,000 votes. ‘The Broward Effect.’ How come they never find Republican votes?” he said.
Local media outlets reported that protesters and large trucks showed up in front of the Broward County elections office. Some of the protesters accused county officials of trying to steal the election.
And Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida) contended that under Florida law, a county has to upload by 7 p.m. a day before all early votes are tabulated and canvassed by the end of early voting and report the results within 30 minutes of the polls closing.
But Broward County is still counting early votes “60 hours after that deadline,” and it’s the only county in Florida to do so, Rubio tweeted.