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Palm Beach, Broward judges side with Scott

Supervisors of Elections forced to turn over voter info in contested counts

November 10, 2018 - 6:47 am

MIAMI (AP) -- Circuit Judge Krista Marx on Friday ordered Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher to give the county canvassing board any duplicate ballots and any "overvoted" or "undervoted" ballots that have not yet been provided to the board by 10 a.m. Saturday.

Earlier Friday, Circuit Judge Carol-Lisa Phillips set a 7 p.m. Friday deadline for Broward County Supervisor of Elections Brenda Snipes to turn over the voter information under Florida's open records laws. Phillips found that Snipes violated that law by failing to turn over the information to attorneys for Scott's Senate campaign and the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

Lawyers for Snipes argued that requiring such a swift response would interfere with ongoing efforts to finish counting Broward County ballots. But lawyers for Scott contended the information is already required to be collected under state law and should take minutes to provide.

The information sought includes ballots not yet reviewed by the Canvassing Board, absentee ballots and early voting ballots.

Scott's campaign filed the lawsuits late Thursday, when he said during a news conference that "unethical liberals" are trying to steal the election.

The outgoing Republican governor is running for U.S. Senate against Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson. Scott's thin lead over Nelson will likely prompt a recount.

Meanwhile U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson says his Republican challenger, Florida Gov. Rick Scott, fears that he will lose the election if all the votes are counted.

Nelson said Friday afternoon that Scott is impeding the democratic process and trying to stop all the votes for Florida's U.S. Senate race from being counted.

Scott has filed lawsuits against elections officials in Broward and Palm Beach counties and asked state law enforcement to investigate possible fraud. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement says no elections fraud allegations have been made, and there isn't an active investigation.

Scott said Thursday night that Democrats are continuing to find votes until they get the results they want.

Nelson responded that "votes are not being found; they're being counted."

With a razor-thin margin in the race for Florida's U.S. Senate, the two sides are throwing jabs at each other over separate lawsuits.

Scott declared victory in Tuesday's election, but Nelson has not conceded and ballot-counting continues.  The race remains too close to call, with Nelson narrowly trailing Scott.

Nelson and the Florida Democratic Party are suing to prevent elections officials statewide from throwing out mail-in votes and provisional ballots. They also have asked a federal court to extend the deadline for counties to submit unofficial election results.

Zeckman said Friday that the lawsuit is asking the court "to overrule election officials and accept ballots that were not legally cast."

Earlier Friday, Nelson lawyer Marc Elias criticized Scott for suggesting that he might get the state government involved.

Elias said it was "not appropriate" for a governor to suggest he was going to "interject his law enforcement authority to prevent the counting of ballots that have been legally cast."

In the governor's race, Democrat Andrew Gillum's campaign said Thursday it's readying for a possible recount. He conceded to Republican Ron DeSantis on Tuesday night, though the race has since tightened. DeSantis led Gillum by 0.47 percentage point as of Thursday afternoon.

Meanwhile, Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson has begun preparing for a potential recount in a race that is still too close to call against Republican Gov. Rick Scott. Scott held a 0.21 percentage lead over Nelson on Thursday afternoon.

The tight races underscored Florida's status as a perennial swing state where elections are often decided by the thinnest of margins.

In 2000, Florida decided the presidency by a few hundred votes in a contest that took more than five weeks to sort out.

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