The Latest: Florida judge sees no evidence of counting fraud
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — The Latest on the Florida election recount of 2018 (all times local):
A Florida judge said he’s seen no evidence of wrongdoing in the vote-counting in Broward County and urged all sides to “ramp down the rhetoric.”
Circuit Chief Judge Jack Tuter said during emergency hearing Monday that there is a need to reassure citizens that the integrity of the Florida recount is being protected.
To that point, he urged lawyers for Rick Scott and others representing the Republican and Democratic parties and their candidates as well as the Broward County elections office to agree on some minor additions in security, including the addition of three more law enforcement officers to keep an eye on things.
And the judge says that if anyone any evidence of voter fraud or irregularities, they should report it to law enforcement.
Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson is suing the Florida Department of State in an effort to count vote-by-mail ballots that were postmarked before Election Day but not delivered before polls closed.
Nelson’s attorney, Marc Elias, filed the lawsuit Monday, saying voters should not be disenfranchised because of mail delivery delays that aren’t their fault. Unofficial election results show Nelson trailing Republican Gov. Rick Scott by 0.14 percentage points.
As an example, he cited the Miami-Dade County postal facility that was evacuated when because explosive devices sent to prominent Democrats were processed there.
“Florida’s 7 p.m. Election Day receipt deadline for vote by mail ballots burdens the right to vote of eligible voters,” the suit said.
Elias wants all ballots postmarked before Nov. 6 to be counted if they are received within 10 days of the election.
Gov. Rick Scott wants law enforcement to impound Broward County’s voting machines and ballots when they’re not being used during the Florida recount.
Lawyers for Scott’s Senate campaign were asking Circuit Chief Judge Jack Tuter on Monday to give custody of all voting machines and ballots to the Broward Sheriff’s Office and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement whenever they’re not being used.
The recount is already secured by police outside and deputies inside, with both parties and campaigns monitoring the entire process. Once calibration tests are completed on the ballot scanning machines, vote-counting will continue around the clock. So it’s unclear when any machines or ballots would be “not in use.”
Scott says Elections Supervisor Brenda Snipes has a history of violating state law during vote-counting.
The recount was triggered because Scott led Democratic incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson by just 0.14 percentage points.
Mishaps, protests and litigation are overshadowing the vote recount in Florida’s pivotal races for governor and U.S. Senate, recalling the 2000 presidential fiasco in the premier political battleground state.
All 67 counties face a Thursday deadline to complete recounts. Half began last weekend amid early drama focused on Broward and Palm Beach counties, home to large concentrations of Democratic voters.
The recount was ordered Saturday after unofficial results showed Republican former U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis leading Democratic Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum by 0.41 percentage points for governor. Scott’s lead over Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson was 0.14 percentage points for the Senate.
The recount is unprecedented even in a state notorious for settling elections by razor-thin margins.