Vote counting and legal battles continue in Florida’s 2018 election recount.
Florida’s machine vote recounts in three statewide races — U.S. Senate, governor and agriculture commissioner — head into the final 24 hours Wednesday with a flurry of activity at local election office across the state, as well as at local and federal courthouses where attorneys for both sides continue to file lawsuits.
Election supervisors face a 3 p.m. Thursday deadline for completing the machine recount, with perhaps the exception of Palm Beach County which had been granted an extension Tuesday.
A circuit court judge in Leon County granted the extension after a Democratic legislative candidate in Palm Beach who lost his race by just 37 votes filed suit seeking extra time so that the Palm Beach election supervisor could complete the recount. But, before the order could be entered by the local court, the state filed a motion to move the case to federal court where a U.S. District judge will decide whether Palm Beach County’s recount deadline is extended.
Bill Nelson’s legal team Tuesday filed their own lawsuit in federal court seeking to extend the deadline for recounting of all the votes statewide in the U.S. Senate race.
In that same federal courthouse later today, another lawsuit filed by U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson’s campaign will be heard by a U.S. District judge. Democrats are asking for an immediate injunction to force the state to count all mail-in and provisional ballots that are deemed to have a signature mismatch.
The lawsuit asks the judge to rule “that all voters who submit a (vote-by-mail) or provisional ballot, and whose ballots are subsequently determined to involve a signature mismatch, be counted as valid votes.” Current state law requires officials to reject signatures that don’t match the ones on file.
“They know they lost. They know that Rick Scott is the Senator-elect,” the Scott campaign said in a release sent out Wednesday morning. “They don’t care, because this isn’t about 2018 and this isn’t about Bill Nelson. This is about 2020. Chuck Schumer and his national Democrat comrades are working overtime to change Florida’s election laws so they can try to win a presidential election two years from now.
The machine recount began Saturday in some counties after the vote margins in the three statewide contests in question fell below the 0.50 percentage that state law sets as a trigger point for proceeding with an automatic recount. If any of those races result in a difference of less than 0.25 percent, an automatic hand recount will be ordered with a deadline for reporting the final numbers set for Sunday.
The final election results are then scheduled to be certified by the state 9 a.m. next Tuesday.