The attorney brought in by Sen. Bill Nelson’s campaign to represent him in a likely recount remained optimistic Friday morning about the Democrat’s chances in the race for the U.S. Senate against Gov. Rick Scott.
Scott has led the race since election night when he held a 60,000 vote lead. But as ballots continue to be found and votes counted — mainly in the Democratic strongholds of Broward and Palm Beach counties — that margin has continued to shrink.
“As of this morning, the margin is a mere 15,068,” recount attorney Marc Elias said. “We are now well within the threshold for a hand recount that will follow the machine recount.”
That margin could grow even smaller if Nelson’s team is successful in a federal lawsuit that would ease requirements for signatures on mail-n ballots.
“Until today, the Nelson campaign has been working on voter fraud behind the scenes in secret,” said Jackie Schutz Zeckman, Scott’s campaign manager. “With today’s filing, their desperation has driven them to ask the federal courts to allow voter fraud. They are asking courts to overrule election officials and accept ballots that were not legally cast.
“Every vote that was legally and verifiably cast prior to the polls closing at 7:00 pm on Tuesday should of course be counted. Any votes that mysteriously showed up after that deadline are invalid,” added Schutz Zeckman.
Elias fired back at Scott who held a hastily-called news conference at the Governor’s Mansion Thursday evening to announce lawsuits filed against the elections supervisors in Broward and Palm Beach counties to permit greater access to the vote counting process.
Scott portrayed Elias and others leading up Nelson’s recount efforts as a “rag-tag group of liberal activists” trying to steal an election.
“I will not sit idly by while unethical liberals try to steal this election from the great people of Florida,” Scott said Thursday evening.
“The tone and tenor and his behavior last night is not suggestive of a campaign that believes it’s winning,” Elias responded Friday morning. “So if you want to know why I think it’s going to tighten, is just look at the behavior of your governor.”
Scott also requested the Florida Department of Law Enforcement open an investigation into the local election offices in Broward and Palm Beach.
“This is not a third-world dictatorship,” Elias insisted. “We don’t let people seize ballots when they think they are losing.”
But Scott questions where all of these extra ballots that continue to be counted are coming from.
“Every day since the election, the left-wing activists in Broward County have been coming up with more and more ballots out of nowhere,” Scott said.
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 addition to the U.S. Senate race, Republican Ron DeSantis holds a lead of .44 percent over Democrat Andrew Gillum in the governor’s contest, or 36,211 votes.
Meanwhile, Democrat Nikki Fried is holding on to a lead of .04 percent over Republican Matt Caldwell in the race for agriculture commissioner, or 2,915 votes. Results reported Tuesday evening showed Caldwell with a slim lead in that race.
County canvassing boards will continue meeting Friday to count any ballots that may remain. 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. Some counties have already started planning to hold recounts as soon as Sunday morning.L