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Scott Sues To Invalidate Some Votes, Impound Election Equipment

Gov. Rick Scott, U.S. Sen Bill Nelson
Gov. Rick Scott's Office, Daylina Miller/WUSF
Gov. Rick Scott, U.S. Sen Bill Nelson

As automatic machine recounts got underway for three statewide elections Sunday, Republican U.S. Senate candidate Gov. Rick Scott filed three new lawsuits against South Florida election supervisors.

In one case, he’s asking a judge to invalidate some votes in Broward County that have helped whittle his lead over incumbent Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson to just over 12,500.

The lawsuit claims additional ballots were counted and submitted after Saturday noon, the time the county provided the state with unofficial return totals.

Scott, who is ending his second and final term as Florida Governor, is also asking a judge to let state law enforcement impound voting machines and physical ballots in Broward and Palm Beach Counties.

In a statement, Scott continued to criticize the work of the elections leaders in both counties.

“Following the continued antics, failures and willful disregard of the law by Broward County Supervisor of Elections Brenda Snipes and Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher, the Scott for Florida team has filed emergency motions and complaints to protect the security of ballots and the ongoing recount process,” he said.

Nelson has also filed legal challenges in the contest where more than 8 million Floridians voted. He said this latest challenge undermines democracy.

“If Rick Scott wanted to make sure every legal ballot is counted, he would not be suing to try and stop voters from having their legal ballot counted as intended,” Nelson said in a statement. He's doing this for the same reason he's been making false and panicked claims about voter fraud -- he's worried that when all the votes are counted he'll lose this election.”

This legal wrangling took place as automatic recounts got underway in three statewide races. All 67 Florida counties have until Thursday afternoon to recount ballots in the race for Governor, U.S. Senate and state Agriculture Commissioner.

All three must undergo a mechanical recount because the margin of victory in each is less than one half of one percent.

Palm Beach County Elections Supervisor Bucher said the machines in her county can only tabulate one race at a time. Her staff is working around the clock – 12 hour shifts at a time - but she is doubtful recounts for all three statewide contests will be completed.

Florida law states that if a county fails to turn in its recount totals by the deadline, the results already on file will be used.

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Mary Shedden is editor of Health News Florida. Her assignment since arriving at WUSF in 2013: distill policy and science so it makes sense on a personal level.
Mary Shedden
Mary Shedden is news director at WUSF Public Media, where she oversees a team of reporters covering 13 counties on Florida’s west coast.