Governor Rick Scott is suing the election supervisors in Broward and Palm Beach counties and accusing the two Democrats of trying “to steal this election from the people of Florida.” Scott has also ordered the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to investigation allegations of fraud.
Scott announced the filing of the lawsuit during a hastily scheduled news conference outside the Governor’s Mansion.
“Both Broward and Palm Beach Counties have failed in their duty to follow Florida law which requires that vote by mail and absentee ballots are accounted within 30 minutes of polls closing,” Scott said. “Further, Palm Beach County has failed to update the Department of State since 10:19 am yesterday. This is in complete violation of Florida law which requires updated reports every 45 minutes until results are completely reported.”
Immediately following Scott’s announcement, Nelson’s campaign fired back. “The goal here is to see that all the votes in Florida are counted and counted accurately. Rick Scott’s action appears to be politically motivated and borne out of desperation,” said Nelson Campaign Spokesman Dan McLaughlin.
It was Nelson, however, who first announced he had hired an election attorney. That attorney, during a conference call with reporters Thursday morning, didn’t rule out the possibility of filing their own lawsuit.
Republicans and Democrats alike have expressed frustration throughout the day over the ongoing vote counting process in Broward County. Supervisor Brenda Snipes has been unable to say how many votes are left to be counted. It’s not the first time Snipes has been accused of violating election law. A judge found she destroyed ballots from the 2016 election and also posted election results before the polls closed – both acts are illegal.
Scott’s lawsuit is a major escalation just 48 hours after polls closed. The Republican sweep of statewide offices appears to be in jeopardy as more Democratic votes continues to be counted in both Broward and Palm Beach counties. Thursday saw Scott’s lead over Senator Bill Nelson slip to under 15,000 votes. A statewide recount is all be certain. That’s also true in the governor’s race where Republican Ron DeSantis’ lead has decreased to under one-half of a percent over Democrat Andrew Gillum. Thursday also saw Democrat Nikki Fried assume the lead in the race for Agriculture Commissioner over Republican Matt Caldwell.
The lawsuit, also filed by the National Republican Senatorial Committee, accuses the two counties of denying access to public records, specifically the records revealing the number of votes that were cast. It also asks a judge for an immediate hearing to address the allegations.