Gov. Rick Scott is accusing the supervisor of elections in Palm Beach County of violating a court order handed down earlier Friday in the case involving ongoing vote counting in Palm Beach and Broward counties.
Scott, who has seen his lead in the U.S. Senate contest against Nelson shrink to less than 15,000 in the past few days, won both of the lawsuits his campaign filed Thursday.
Friday afternoon, a Palm Beach circuit court judge ruled in favor of Scott and granted an injunction ordering Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher to submit “overvoted” and “undervoted” absentee ballots to the Palm Beach County Canvassing Board for an open and public review of each vote before they are counted.
Late Friday evening, the Scott campaign accused Bucher of failing to comply with the order.
“Tonight, Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher announced that she is refusing to comply with a court order to submit overvotes and undervotes to the Palm Beach County Canvassing Board for review under the court-ordered deadline,” said Chris Hartline, a spokesman for the Scott campaign. “Susan Bucher has consistently refused to follow state law and comply with legally required deadlines and regulations. Whether it’s gross incompetence or intentional disregard for the rule of law is irrelevant at this point. Either way, it is embarrassing and unacceptable.”
A Broward County judge later ordered that county’s election supervisor Brenda Snipes to turn over to Scott’s campaign an accounting of how many ballots were cast in that county along with a breakdown by category. The judge set a Friday evening deadline for Snipes to provide the information. The judge also ruled Snipes was in violation of Florida public records law for not providing voting data to the campaign. According to the Scott campaign, Snipes failed to fully comply because she refused to confirm whether or not additional ballots exist that must be counted.
The latest lawsuit was filed Friday by Rep. Matt Caldwell, the Republican candidate for state agriculture commissioner. Caldwell had a narrow lead over his Democratic opponent Nikki Fried after the election, until elections officials in Broward and Palm Beach counties kept finding ballots to count. Because of those additional votes counted, Fried now holds a narrow lead over Caldwell.
In his lawsuit, Caldwell asks the court in Broward County to determine whether that county’s election supervisor, “illegally included ballots after polls closed” Nov. 6. His campaign also filed a public records request asking for vote counts and any emails exchanged between Snipes, her staff and any third parties relating to counting of ballots.
Meanwhile, the legal fight over the results of Florida’s 2018 midterm election is about to include a name familiar to those who were around for the 2000 presidential recount in Florida, attorney Barry Richard.
Andrew Gillum, the Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gillum who conceded the race Tuesday evening to his Republican opponent, Ron DeSantis, has scheduled a news conference for Saturday afternoon with Richard, who represented George W. Bush in the 2000 presidential recount in Florida.
A release sent out by Gillum’s campaign staff says the news conference is being held “to discuss the ongoing certification process in the Florida governor’s race.”
The governor’s contest is one of three statewide races that could see recounts. as the result of additional ballots counted and added to vote totals since Tuesday. Those additional ballots and votes has led to a number of lawsuits.
Under state law, a machine recount is triggered if the margin of victory in a race is less than 0.5 percent, while a hand recount is triggered if the margin is less than 0.25 percent.
In the U.S. Senate race, Scott holds a 0.18 percent lead over Nelson. In the governor’s contest, DeSantis holds a lead of .44 percent over Gillum. Fried has a 0.04 percent over Republican Caldwell.
All counties have until noon Saturday to submit their first unofficial returns to Secretary of State Ken Detzner. It will be up to Detzner to decide whether any or all of the three races meet the legal requirements for a machine or manual recount.