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Florida elections, recount: Senate, governor races in chaos

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President Donald Trump and Florida Gov. Rick Scott.
President
Donald Trump and Florida Gov. Rick Scott.

Mark Wallheiser/Getty Images

  • Since Tuesday, Florida, Georgia, and Arizona have all become
    mired in controversy over uncounted votes. 
  • But nowhere is the chaos more dramatic than in Florida, where
    two major South Florida counties — Broward and Palm Beach — have
    yet to count thousands of votes. 
  • Several races, including the Senate and gubernatorial
    contests, are approaching the 0.5 percentage-point margin that
    would trigger an automatic recount. 

Since Tuesday, Florida, Georgia, and Arizona have all become
mired in controversy over uncounted votes. 

But nowhere is the chaos more dramatic than in Florida, where two
major Democratic-leaning South Florida counties — Broward and
Palm Beach — are still tallying thousands of votes as the margin
between the Senate and gubernatorial candidates approaches the
recount threshold. 

  • Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson has not conceded to his
    Republican challenger, Gov. Rick Scott, despite Scott declaring
    victory on Tuesday night.
  • In the governor’s race, Andrew Gillum, the mayor of
    Tallahassee, conceded on Tuesday night. But since then,
    Republican Ron DeSantis’ lead has fallen to just 0.44 percentage
    points, which is just below the automatic recount threshold. On
    Thursday,
    Gillum’s campaign indicated
    that they are “ready for any outcome,
    including a state-mandated recount.” 

Republicans are charging that Broward and Palm Beach County
elections officials have a record of “incompetence and
irregularities in vote tabulations.” They are pointing to a
recent
court ruling
that Brenda Snipes, the Broward County
elections supervisor, oversaw the illegal destruction of votes in
a 2016 congressional contest. The office is under state
monitoring. 

Snipes has, as of yet, not released the total number of ballots
yet to be counted. She said Thursday that mail-in and provisional
ballots are being counted as quickly as possible but that her
office has been slowed by the volume of ballots. 

The battle over the future of Florida — and the Senate — could
continue for weeks as recounts, and lawsuits, commence:

  • As of Friday morning, Scott
    leads Nelson by about 15,000 votes
    and DeSantis leads Gillum

    by about 36,000 votes
  • All of Florida’s 67 counties have until noon on Saturday to
    send their unofficial vote counts to Florida’s Division of
    Elections. 
  • Ballots collected in Broward, as of Thursday evening, show
    that almost 25,000 people voted in the governor’s race, but not
    in the Senate race. Democrats blame the fact that Senate box
    appeared in a corner of the ballot beneath the instructions and
    say many voters missed it. 
  • Florida’s secretary of state — a Scott appointee — is tasked
    with ordering the state-mandated recounts. 
  • Six races could have recounts: US Senate, governor, state
    agriculture commissioner, one state Senate race, and two state
    House races. 
  • Machine recounts must be completed by 3 p.m. on November 15.
    The state will allow three more days for manual recounts if the
    margin is less than 0.25 percentage points. 


Tallahassee mayor Andrew Gillum with his wife, RJ, won the Democratic nomination for governor on Tuesday.
Tallahassee
mayor Andrew Gillum with his wife, RJ, won the Democratic
nomination for governor on Tuesday.

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

GOP spreads unproven accusations of fraud

There is no proof that the votes being counted in Broward county
are illegitimate, but that has not prevented Scott and his
allies, including President Donald Trump, from making those
claims. On Thursday, Scott and Senate Republicans filed a lawsuit
demanding the recount be halted.  

Both Scott and Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio have implied
that Broward county election officials are committing fraud by
miscounting or creating votes. 

“Every Floridian should be concerned there may be a rampant fraud
happening in Palm Beach and Broward counties,” Scott said
Thursday. “Their goal is to keep mysteriously finding more votes
until the election turns out the way they want.”


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Rudy Giuliani, the president’s lawyer, alleged in a series of
tweets that the county is “creating” votes and said one has to be
“naive, even simple minded not to recognize” that Democrats
regularly engage in voter fraud. 


No widespread voter fraud has been uncovered
 in American
elections in recent years, despite several investigations.
Trump’s own commission to investigate voter fraud in the 2016
elections found no such wrongdoing and, after it was
disbanded last January
, one of its members slammed the White
House for making false claims to support Trump’s unsubstantiated
claims. 

“Law Enforcement is looking into another big corruption scandal
having to do with Election Fraud in #Broward and Palm Beach.
Florida voted for Rick Scott!” Trump tweeted

On Friday morning, Trump claimed that Snipes, the Broward
elections supervisor, had a “horrible history” and added that
“what’s going on in Florida is a disgrace.” 

“You mean they are just now finding votes in Florida and Georgia
– but the Election was on Tuesday? Let’s blame the Russians and
demand an immediate apology from President Putin!” Trump tweeted
later in the morning.

Fox News host and informal Trump adviser Sean Hannity even said
“somebody needs to go to jail” as a result of the delayed vote
counts in Broward. 

“It is obviously corrupt, obviously laws were broken, obviously
there are shenanigans here,” Hannity
said
in an interview with Scott on his Thursday evening
program. “You won this race hands down.” 

Several lawmakers also weighed in, with Democrats including Sens.
Cory Booker and Amy Klobuchar urging a recount. 

On Thursday, Rubio tweeted out a video purporting to show Broward
election officials transporting ballots in private cars, fanning
the flames of the conspiracies. 

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