Prospect of an­other re­count in Florida sparks protests

The Buffalo News - - WASHINGTON NEWS -

fears that he will lose the elec­tion if all the votes are counted,” Nel­son said in a video re­leased Fri­day. “... Votes are not be­ing found. They’re be­ing counted.”

As of Fri­day af­ter­noon, Scott had a lead over Nel­son of just more than 16,000 votes, or 0.19 per­cent, ac­cord­ing to the As­so­ci­ated Press. In the gover­nor’s race, Demo­cratic Tal­la­has­see Mayor An­drew Gil­lum,, trailed for­mer Repub­lli­can Don DeSan­tis by more than 36,000 votes, or 0.45 per­cent.

Un­der Florida law, a statewide ma­chine re­count is con­ducted when the mar­gin of vic­tory is less than 0.5 per­cent, and a man­ual re­count is or­dered if the mar­gin is less than 0.25 per­cent.

A lawyer for Nel­son, Marc Elias, said in a call with re­porters Fri­day that the can­vass un­der­way in Broward and else­where in Florida is a “fea­ture, not a flaw, of our demo­cratic sys­tem” to en­sure that all valid votes are counted. He ac­cused Repub­li­cans of falsely claim­ing voter fraud sim­ply be­cause the mar­gin had changed.

“The lead is just over 15,000 votes now, which seemed to cause the gover­nor to hold an im­promptu news con­fer­ence to ac­knowl­edge the shrink­ing state of the mar­gin,” Elias said.

Both cam­paigns also went to court, al­low­ing Scott to claim two quick vic­to­ries Fri­day, when a judge or­dered of­fi­cials in Palm Beach County to open their can­vass to pub­lic in­spec­tion, and an­other judge or­dered Broward of­fi­cials to re­lease doc­u­ments the gover­nor had de­manded.

Nel­son’s suit seeks to re-ex­am­ine ab­sen­tee and pro­vi­sional bal­lots when sig­na­tures on the bal­lots don’t match voter regis­tra­tion records.

In Ge­or­gia last month, a fed­eral judge or­dered lo­cal elec­tion of­fi­cials to stop throw­ing out bal­lots be­cause of sig­na­ture is­sues.

The Scott cam­paign lashed back. “Their des­per­a­tion has driven them to ask the fed­eral courts to al­low voter fraud,” cam­paign man­ager Jackie Schutz Zeck­man said. “They are ask­ing courts to over­rule elec­tion of­fi­cials and ac­cept bal­lots that were not legally cast.”

Re­ports have poured in from vot­ers com­plain­ing that their bal­lots were im­prop­erly re­jected; one came from Patrick Mur­phy, a for­mer Demo­cratic con­gress­man from Palm Beach, who tweeted: “Just saw no­tice from @PBCounty that my ab­sen­tee bal­lot wasn’t counted due to ‘in­valid sig­na­ture’ match. Should be +1 @ Nel­sonForSe­nate @An­drewGil­lum. Must over­haul th­ese ridicu­lous bar­ri­ers to vot­ing.”

In Ge­or­gia, the closely fought gover­nor’s con­test has prompted Democrats to ac­cuse Repub­li­can con­tender Brian Kemp of mis­con­duct.

Kemp served as sec­re­tary of state un­til Thurs­day and was a cham­pion of new vot­ing laws that Democrats say dis­en­fran­chised thou­sands of vot­ers, most of them mi­nori­ties.

Sup­port­ers of Demo­crat Stacey Abrams scram­bled Fri­day to force a runoff by help­ing vot­ers val­i­date their pro­vi­sional bal­lots.

Getty Images

Protesters con­front each other out­side the Broward County Su­per­vi­sor of Elec­tions of­fice on Fri­day in Lauder­hill, Fla. Ac­cord­ing to re­ports, both the gu­ber­na­to­rial and Se­nate races were sep­a­rated by less than half a per­cent­age point.

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