Florida Governor and Senate elect Rick Scott, unleashed lawsuits against Broward County and Palm Beach County while accusing Democrats of trying to steal the election.
Both the senate seat Scott thought was his on Tuesday night, and the Governors spot that looked all but won by Republican Ron DeSantis are both now within the margin of error for a recount.
Scott believed he won over the Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson, however, during a press conference Thursday night, after his Senate campaign sued Broward County and Palm Beach County elections officials to turn over records regarding how ballots are being counted, Scott said: The people of Florida deserve fairness and transparency, and the supervisors are failing to give it to us.
The lawsuit was filed about the same time Scott ordered state law enforcement officials to investigate the Broward and Palm Beach voting operation.
Video: Rick Scott alleges rampant fraud in Florida
A spokesperson for Nelson bristled at Scotts legal maneuvering, telling CNN The goal here is to see that all the votes in Florida are counted and counted accurately. Rick Scotts action appears to be politically motivated and borne out of desperation.
But Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) is outraged that Florida election officials are going to double-check the results and make absolutely certain that the GOP won. As far as hes concerned, the whole thing is a plot by liberal-leaning Broward County election officials to steal the election — and he expounded on why he believes this in a six-part thread on Twitter:
Senator elect Rick Scott sued Broward County and Palm Beach County election officials Thursday night alleging there could be rampant fraud in the counties ballot-counting process
As ballots were still being counted in Palm Beach and Broward counties, the gap closed between Rick Scott and Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson (pictured)
More drama in Florida: Senate race heads toward a recount as gubernatorial contest tightens
The races between Rick Scott and Sen. Bill Nelson for US Senate and between Ron DeSantis and Andrew Gillum for governor remain too close to call after Tuesdays election. Under Florida state law, a recount is triggered if the margin of victory is equal or less than 0.5 percent.
#Broward supervisor:- says she doesnt know how many ballots are left to be counted; &- Isnt reporting hourly or regularly,but rather releasing thousands of additional votes,often in the overnight hours,that are chipping away at GOP leads2/6 #Sayfie
Nelsons campaign has already called for a recount; at press time, Scott, the current Republican governor, had a lead of about 0.2 percent — well in the range of a recount.
At the end of this process Sen. Nelson is going to prevail, Marc Elias, Nelsons campaign lawyer, said Thursday on a press call. I am very measured in how I treat what I say. When I say it is currently a jump ball … I mean that.
Gillum has already conceded to DeSantis; however, as votes continue to be counted, the margin is becoming so small that its bounding toward a recount as well. At any rate, a concession speech isnt legally binding, so if the recount goes Gillums way, he can just take it back.
Video: Possible recount in Floridas Senate race
The stakes for both outcomes are high, given strikingly contrasting visions for the state and the country — and that Republicans have a bare 51-majority in the Senate (one they would expand if Scott wins). Whatever happens in Florida could have huge national consequences.
Video: Florida Senate Race Headed To Recount
Elections in Florida are almost always very close. And this year, even in a midterm cycle, is no different.
While the early results seemed to favor Democrats, Republicans, like in 2016, showed their might throughout the night and have held a very narrow lead since early Wednesday morning. But not all the votes have been counted yet — and some of the most populous counties in Florida dont even know how many more votes there are to count.
Florida governor claims election fraud
Thats a good sign for Nelson and Gillum, who have seen their vote totals grow as more votes come in from the southeastern parts of the state.
Scott has already declared victory in this years Senate race. As the contest tightened on Thursday, widely followed forecaster Nate Silvers FiveThirtyEight moved its rating on the Florida contest from “likely” Republican to “lean” Republican.
In Broward County, the second-most-populous county in southeastern Florida that covers part of the Miami metropolitan area, Nelson currently has won 69 percent of the votes and Gillum has won 68 percent; there are still early and absentee ballots and Election Day votes to be counted. The same goes for Palm Beach County, where Gillum and Nelson are the big favorites.
Democrats are prepared for the long haul here — even Gillum, who gave a teary concession speech on Tuesday night.
We are committed to ensuring every single vote in Florida is counted, his campaign has since said.
Meanwhile, DeSantis, who claimed victory in the governors race, is already acting like the presumptive nominee, appointing a transition team.
Plainly, a recount means that every vote cast will be retabulated. In Florida, if the margin of victory is 0.5 percent or less, a machine recount is ordered. If that margin is 0.25 percent or less, the state will trigger a manual recount, where the over votes and under votes are counted by hand.
This matters, particularly in the Senate race. For example, in Broward County, of the 695,799 people who turned in ballots, only 665,688 voted in the Senate race, according to the current count — less than almost every other statewide race on the ballot. Broward County is a Democratic stronghold in Florida.
Why there have been so many under votes in Broward County remains a mystery. Some have said its because of how the ballot is formatted, putting the Senate race on the bottom of the page under a long block of voting instructions. But Nelsons lawyer thinks its a machine error that would be rectified with a hand recount.
A recount also means that provisional and overseas absentee ballots — all of which are typically counted after Election Day — are counted, a process that can at times take more than a week.
There are always mail-in ballots and provisional ballots that arent counted — due to a lack of ID or matching address — that can be counted if they are rechecked. Typically, voters are notified of errors and have to sign an affidavit curing the mistakes before Election Day. But there are always ballots turned in on Election Day that cant be re-checked, and people that cast provisional ballots.
Nelson to pursue recount as Senate race remains too close to call | TheHill
According to Daniel Smith, a political scientist with the University of Florida and an election watcher, of the mail ballots returned on Election Day, more than 13,000 had issues.
My database yesterday revealed that of the 126k VBMs returned on Election Day (in FL, VBMs (except overseas) must be received by SOEs by 7pm on Election Day), over 13.4k had problems.
Voters have until 5 pm Eastern time Thursday to make sure their vote counted, or cure their votes of any errors, and county supervisors must submit the results from provisional ballots by Saturday.
In a recount, the latter deadline could change. For now, campaigns are in a mad dash to contact voters and verify their ballots. This is a struggle — in past elections, fewer than half of cast provisional ballots actually get counted. But based on where provisional ballots have been cast so far, it looks like if they are counted, theyd overwhelmingly go toward Democrats. Overseas and military ballots still havent fully come in for this election, and those typically strengthen Republicans leads.
For most election watchers, the idea of a Florida recount gives Democrats flashbacks to the 2000 presidential election, when George W. Bush beat Democrat Al Gore by 537 votes in Florida after a partial recount that was ultimately halted by the Supreme Court. One report after the race found that if the entire state had had a thorough recount under certain rules, Gore likely would have won.
That was a highly unique case. That said, its also unusual for a recount to change the final results of an election.
As FiveThirtyEight reported in 2016, between 2000 and 2015, there have been 27 recounts in statewide general elections, only three of which actually changed the final result:
The razor thin races to watch in Florida and Georgia
Al Frankens win in Minnesotas 2008 U.S. Senate race, Thomas M. Salmons win in Vermonts 2006 auditor election and Christine Gregoires win in Washingtons 2004 gubernatorial race.
But that doesnt mean these races in Florida arent close enough to become part of that statistic. Based on the numbers so far, there are a couple of reasons Democrats have hope in Florida: 1) Not all the votes have been counted — and those that remain to be counted are in Democratic strongholds; 2) the margins are so small that provisional ballots could have an impact here, and they often go toward Democrats.
Its worth noting that in 2016, Elias, currently Nelsons elections lawyer, was general counsel on Hillary Clintons campaign, when he said that Clintons chance of winning through recounts was next to none.
Florida braces for recounts in governor, Senate races
The number of votes separating Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton in the closest of these states — Michigan — well exceeds the largest margin ever overcome in a recount, he said then.
On Thursday, Elias had a very different tone; he told reporters he was confident Nelson would win.
RICK SCOTT BROWARD COUNTY LAWSUIT: Senate Bill Nelson | WFTV
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