Florida deja vu as state elec­tion hit by chaos, fraud ac­cu­sa­tions

Oman Daily Observer - - EUROPE -

WASH­ING­TON: Florida has made a trou­bling re­turn to the elec­tion spot­light 18 years af­ter the drama that launched Ge­orge W Bush’s pres­i­dency, as the state braces for race re­counts amid tit-for-tat ac­cu­sa­tions of fraud.

Two ma­jor con­tests in the south­east­ern state, for gov­er­nor and US Se­nate, hung in the bal­ance on Fri­day, three days af­ter the con­tentious midterm elec­tions that saw Democrats seize con­trol of the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives from Pres­i­dent Donald Trump’s Repub­li­cans.

Most US po­lit­i­cal races have al­ready been set­tled. But Florida’s bal­lot chaos — rife with in­trigue and Trump’s ac­cu­sa­tion of abuse by of­fi­cials in Demo­crat-heavy coun­ties — raises fresh ques­tions about why the world’s most pow­er­ful democ­racy is in­ca­pable of pro­duc­ing swift and ac­cu­rate elec­tion results across all 50 states.

Florida is not alone. In neigh­bour­ing Ge­or­gia, the Demo­cratic can­di­date for gov­er­nor ini­ti­ated le­gal ac­tion to en­sure all votes were counted in her con­test.

In Ari­zona, hun­dreds of thou­sands of bal­lots were still left to be counted in a fierce US Se­nate bat­tle that has Demo­crat Kyrsten Sinema lead­ing Repub­li­can Martha Mcsally by a sin­gle per­cent­age point.

With Florida’s de­vel­op­ments rais­ing par­ti­san ten­sions to fresh highs, Trump weighed in to al­lege a ma­jor cor­rup­tion scan­dal was brew­ing.

“What’s go­ing on in Florida is a dis­grace,” Trump told re­porters.

“Bad things are go­ing on in Broward Coun­try, re­ally bad things,” Trump added, re­fer­ring to a Demo­crat-heavy county where of­fi­cials were slowly count­ing votes in­clud­ing ab­sen­tee and pro­vi­sional bal­lots.

Florida’s Gov­er­nor Rick Scott, the Repub­li­can chal­leng­ing in­cum­bent Se­nate Demo­crat Bill Nel­son, filed a law­suit al­leg­ing fraud af­ter his lead nar­rowed.

Nel­son, ac­cus­ing Scott of try­ing to sup­press votes, fired back with a law­suit of his own to block steps that would re­ject thou­sands of mail-in bal­lots.

Their race, and the one for gov­er­nor, ap­pear headed for manda­tory re­counts, which would fur­ther de­lay a fi­nal out­come.

“Every Florid­ian should be con­cerned there may be ram­pant fraud hap­pen­ing in Palm Beach and Broward Coun­ties,” Scott said.

Trump con­curred, telling re­porters that Scott “eas­ily won, but every hour it seems to be go­ing down.”

Scott’s lead on Fri­day stood at 14,848 votes out of 8.2 mil­lion cast, a mar­gin of just 0.18 per cent.

Nel­son hit back. “Scott is abus­ing the full force of his pub­lic of­fice as gov­er­nor to stop a com­plete and ac­cu­rate count­ing of all the votes in Florida,” he said.

The US Se­nate’s top Demo­crat fumed about Trump’s pressure on the race.

“In a democ­racy, no one — not even the Pres­i­dent — can pre­vent the law­ful count­ing of votes,” Se­nate Mi­nor­ity Leader Chuck Schumer tweeted.

“We will not al­low him or any­one else to steal this elec­tion.”

In a vic­tory for Scott, a Broward County judge re­port­edly set a 7:00 pm (0000 GMT) dead­line for county of­fi­cials to turn over all voter data, ar­gu­ing they failed to meet le­gal re­quire­ments.

Two ma­jor con­tests in the south­east­ern state, for gov­er­nor and US Se­nate, hung in the bal­ance on Fri­day, three days af­ter the con­tentious midterm elec­tions

In this file photo taken on November 23, 2000, Broward County Can­vass­ing Board Mem­ber Judge Robert Rosen­berg (L) shows a bal­lot to an uniden­ti­fied ob­server at the Broward County Court­house in Fort Laud­erdale, Florida. — AFP

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