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Tuesday, June 18, 2024 | Back issues
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Can’t Tell the Elections Defendants Without a Scorecard

(CN) — Florida’s secretary of state on Saturday ordered a statewide machine recount of three races: for governor, U.S. Senate, and agriculture commissioner. Returns for all three races fall within the 0.5 percent margin that triggers a recount under state law.

(CN) — Florida’s secretary of state on Saturday ordered a statewide machine recount of three races: for governor, U.S. Senate, and agriculture commissioner. Returns for all three races fall within the 0.5 percent margin that triggers a recount under state law.

Unofficial results Saturday afternoon in the Senate race put Republican Gov. Rick Scott ahead of incumbent Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson by 12,562 votes — 0.15 percent.

According to unofficial returns in the Senate race, with 99 percent of precincts reporting on Saturday, Scott led Nelson by 4,098,107 votes to 4,085,545.

In the governor’s race, former Republican Congressman Ron DeSantis led Tallahassee’s Democratic Mayor Andrew Gillum by 4,075,869 votes to 4,042,176 — a margin of 33,691, or 0.44 percent.

Democratic incumbent Agriculture Commissioner led Republican Matt Caldwell by 5,326 votes, according to unofficial returns — 0.06 percent.

The machine recounts must be finished by 3 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 15. Races within 0.25 percent must then be recounted by hand.

Here is a roundup of the pending litigation.

Florida Senate race

Scott sued Broward County Elections Supervisor Brenda Snipes on Thursday afternoon, demanding the right to have his campaign watch the ballot counting. Broward County Judge Lisa Phillips on Friday afternoon gave Snipes until Friday evening to provide Scott’s attorneys with the number of ballots cast, counted, and left to be counted.

Also Thursday, Scott sued Palm Beach County Elections Supervisor Susan Bucher, with the same demand: the right to witness the counting.

In a third lawsuit Thursday, the Florida Democratic Party sued Elections Supervisor Bucher, demanding a list of names of everyone who submitted provisional ballots, including provisional ballots that were rejected. The Democrats say in the complaint that Butcher refused to provide the list until Friday, Nov. 9, or later — after the period of “curing” the provisional ballots ends. They sought an emergency hearing and extension of the deadline for curing ballots. They are represented by Sarah Lahlou-Amine, with Banker, Lopez & Gassler, of Tampa.

In a fourth lawsuit Thursday, in Tallahassee, Nelson sued Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner in federal court, claiming that “tens of thousands of Florida voters” will be disenfranchised “if defendant is not enjoined from rejecting their vote-by-mail (‘VBM’) and provisional ballots on the basis of a standardless signature matching process. He claims the “entirely standardless, inconsistent, and unreliable signature matching process … has a disparate impact on people of color and young, first time voters”. Nelson is represented by Ronald Meyer, with Meyer, Brooks, Demma and Blohm, of Tallahassee.

Both Scott and President Trump have accused elections officials of trying to “steal” the election, though neither provided any proof.

No lawsuits have been filed, yet, in the governor’s race, but Gillum rebuked Scott for claiming that “left-wing activists” were trying to steal the election through “rampant fraud.”

Gillum responded on Twitter, saying, “counting votes isn’t partisan – it’s democracy.”

Agriculture commissioner race

Republican Caldwell sued Broward County Elections Supervisor Brenda Snipes on Friday to try to stop her from counting absentee ballots. At the time of filing, 2:55 p.m. Friday, Caldwell trailed Democrat Nicole Fried by 2,973 votes, according to the complaint. That lead had increased to 5,326, unofficially, by Saturday afternoon, when Detzner ordered the machine recount in all three races.

Fried’s unofficial margin in Broward County, however, was enormous, according to Caldwell’s complaint: 477,450 for Fried and 213,400 for Caldwell. Caldwell claims that Fried is counting absentee ballots that were received after the cutoff time of 7 p.m. on Election Day.

He sought an injunction, represented by George LeMieux, with Gunster, Yoakley & Stewart, of Fort Lauderdale. Snipes was served with the lawsuit on Saturday, according to NBC News.

Finally, in Arizona, Democrat Kyrsten Sinema appears to have defeated Republican Martha McSally in the race for retiring U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake’s seat, though the Republican Party’s lawsuit against the secretary of state is still pending. The Republicans want all 15 Arizona counties to verify signatures on ballots by 7 p.m. on Election Day. The state’s two most populous counties, Maricopa (Phoenix) and Pima (Tucson) continue verifying signatures after Election Day.

Sinema led by 20,203 votes on Friday night out of 1.96 million cast, a lead of 1 percent. More than 200,000 ballots remained to be counted, according to the Secretary of State’s Office. Sinema trailed McSally in unofficial returns on Election Day but overtook her as early ballots were counted, and has consistently increased her lead. On Monday morning, The New York Times reported that her lead stood at 32,169, or 1.5 percent.

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