Florida draws Trump’s attention
President threatens U.S. intervention in count of votes
President Donald Trump said the federal government could intervene in an undecided U.S. Senate election in Florida, where Democrat Bill Nelson has closed the gap with Republican Rick Scott in recent days as outstanding votes continue to be counted.
“All of a sudden they’re finding votes out of nowhere,” Trump told reporters Friday as he was leaving the White House for a trip to Paris.
“Rick Scott, who won by, you know, who won by a comfortable margin, every couple of hours it comes down a little bit.”
“You look at the dishonesty. There are bad things that have gone on in Broward County. Really bad things,” Trump said, adding that “there could be” a role for the federal government in the election. He didn’t elaborate.
Trump cast doubt on the Senate race in Arizona, where Democrat Kyrsten Sinema jumped ahead of Republican Martha McSally late Thursday.
“It always seems to go the way of the Democrats,” Trump said. “Now in Arizona, all of a sudden, out of the wilderness, they find a lot of votes, and she’s — the other candidate — is just winning by a hair.”
Scott, Florida’s governor, is suing two of his state’s counties — Broward and Palm Beach — asking for an investigation of the tens of thousands of votes that are trickling in days after the election, which have narrowed his lead enough to trigger a recount.
A judge on Friday sided with Scott and ordered Broward County’s election supervisor to release the voter information sought by the governor by 7 p.m. Friday.
The ruling came as the Broward Canvassing Board met to review ballots that had been initially deemed ineligible.
The county has not answered questions about its process and about how many votes it has left to count.
Nelson, the Democratic incumbent, didn’t concede defeat in Tuesday’s election, even after Scott declared victory, and has called for a recount.
Now with two of the state’s most Democratic counties still filing unofficial results, Scott’s lead has shrunk to less than the half a percentage point that would allow for a recount.
In the race for governor, former Republican U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis was leading by 0.47 percentage point against the Democratic mayor of Tallahassee, Andrew Gillum.
While that margin, if it holds, would require a recount, DeSantis has mostly stayed out of the fray, saying he was working on plans for taking office in January.
Gillum conceded on Election Night, but as the vote margin began to narrow Thursday he said he wanted to see every vote counted, strongly indicating he would not stand in the way of a recount.
A recount is mandatory if the winning candidate’s margin is less than 0.5 percentage point when the first unofficial count is verified by Florida’s secretary of state.
And if the margin is less than 0.25 percent, the recount must be done by hand.
Most of the focus had turned to Broward County, a Democratic South Florida stronghold that was still adding up early-voting and mail-in ballots on Thursday.
Scott on Thursday night said voters “should be concerned there may be rampant fraud happening.”
For decades, Broward County has regularly been a hot zone for election night chaos in both statewide and national races, including the 2000 election in which George W. Bush edged Al Gore for the presidency.
Broward County Elections Supervisor Brenda Snipes, the target of Scott’s legal action, has been accused in recent years of illegally destroying ballots and mismanagement.
Florida election officials have until today to tally votes to determine whether both the Senate and gubernatorial race will head to a recount.
But Snipes on Thursday fueled the latest Broward controversy — and conspiracy theories — when she failed to explain how long her office’s count would take.
“The #Broward Elections Supervisor has been pulling stunts like this for years and we’re not going to let her get away with it,” GOP Chairman Ronna McDaniel tweeted Thursday.
Information for this article was contributed by Jennifer Jacobs and Anna Edgerton of Bloomberg News; by Terry Spencer, Brendan Farrington, Josh Replogle and Curt Anderson of The Associated Press; and by Kyle Swenson of The Washington Post.
Broward County elections supervisor Brenda Snipes, (from left) Judge Betsy Benson and Judge Brenda Carpenter-Toye of the county canvassing board continue to count votes Friday in Lauderhill, Fla.