Florida draws Trump’s at­ten­tion

Pres­i­dent threat­ens U.S. in­ter­ven­tion in count of votes

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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.

AP/South Florida Sun-Sen­tinel/MIKE STOCKER

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.

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