Florida Recount Rollercoaster Barrels Toward Thursday Deadline

(CN) – Florida’s recount madness continued on Wednesday, one day before the state’s 67 counties must finish tallying ballots by machine.

Attorneys for the Senate campaigns of Gov. Rick Scott and Bill Nelson appeared in courtrooms across the state to argue a half dozen lawsuits while county election officials plodded through the state’s roughly 8 million votes.

Meanwhile, Scott attended Senate orientation in Washington D.C. despite the disputed election results. Scott maintains a lead over Nelson with less than 13,000 votes, according to unofficial election results.

In Tallahassee federal court, Scott’s attorneys said the Republican will recuse himself from a state panel that certifies election results in response to a lawsuit filed by the League of Women Voters, Common Cause and a Broward County voter. They claimed Scott would misuse his authority to influence the election results.

In another federal lawsuit, Judge Mark Walker gave Secretary of State Ken Detzner until Thursday morning to respond to calls by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee to extend recount deadlines. Another lawsuit seeks to extend the cutoff date for receipt of vote-by-mail ballots.

“I feel a little like Captain Kirk in the episode where the Tribbles started multiplying,” Walker said during one hearing Wednesday morning, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

Walker, an appointee of former president Barack Obama, also held a hearing on the Nelson campaign’s request to admit all mail-in and provisional ballots rejected due to signatures not matching election office records. One of those voters rejected is former congressman Patrick Murphy, who submitted an affidavit to the court on Wednesday.

“I was surprised that my vote by mail ballot was rejected, because I previously cast a vote by mail ballot in the 2018 primary election in Florida, using my same signature, and my primary vote was counted,” he wrote.

On Wednesday afternoon, the Nelson campaign filed yet another lawsuit. This one targets Bay County Supervisor of Elections Mark Andersen, who admitted Monday to accepting vote-by-mail ballots sent by e-mail and fax. Nelson’s attorneys want the election official to hand over copies of those ballots for review.

Bay County was one of the areas in the Panhandle hit hard by Hurricane Michael in October. The county has twice as many Republicans as Democrats.

On Tuesday, Scott sued Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections Craig Latimer, alleging the candidate’s representatives were not allowed to directly view workers counting votes and instead regulated to another room behind glass to watch the tallying.

Election workers and canvassing boards continued to count ballots ahead of the 3 p.m. deadline on Thursday. So far, most of the state’s counties expect to hit Thursday’s deadline, except Palm Beach County, where machines overheated and thousands of ballots had to be re-tallied.

Outside the Broward County Supervisor of Elections office, another flashpoint this week, protesters from all sides of the political spectrum raised the specter of election fraud.

At a press conference organized by the Service Employees International Union, Weston resident Katherine Grasshopper shared her voting experience on Election Day.

“When I showed up at my precinct, I was told I could not fill out an actual ballot and would have to cast a provisional ballot,” she said. “The next day, my vote had not been counted.”

Grasshopper said she filled out an affidavit and sent it to the supervisor of elections office to prove her eligibility, but her vote was still not counted.

While Grasshopper spoke to the crowd, counter-protesters chanted, “Follow the law!”

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