Fla. again deals with elec­tion con­tro­versy

Baltimore Sun - - NATION - By Terry Spencer

FORT LAUD­ERDALE, Fla. — Florida is once again at the cen­ter of elec­tion con­tro­versy, but this year there are no hang­ing chads or but­ter­fly bal­lots like in 2000. And no an­gry mobs in suits — at least not yet.

The pur­ple state will learn Sat­ur­day whether there will be re­counts in the tight U.S. Se­nate race be­tween Repub­li­can Gov. Rick Scott and i ncum­bent Demo­crat Bill Nel­son; and in the gover­nor’s race be­tween for­mer Repub­li­can U.S. Rep. Ron DeSan­tis and the Demo­cratic mayor of Tal­la­has­see, An­drew Gil­lum.

The state’s re­count pro­ce­dures have been re­vised since Florida held the coun­try hostage for a month 18 years ago, when Ge­orge W. Bush edged Al Gore for the pres­i­dency. Among other things, the in­fa­mous punch­card bal­lots are no longer.

Yet, Scott and Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump on Fri­day al­leged fraud with­out evi- dence, even as the of­ten­la­bo­ri­ous process of re­view­ing bal­lots in a close race con­tin­ued ahead of the Sat­ur­day noon dead­line. Both Scott and Nel­son sought to get the courts to in­ter­vene.

On Fri­day, Scott led by 0.21 per­cent­age point, low enough to re­quire a re­count.

A re­count is manda­tory if the win­ning can­di­date’s mar­gin is less than 0.5 per­cent­age points when the first un­of­fi­cial count is ver­i­fied Sat­ur­day by Florida’s sec­re­tary of state. And if the mar­gin is less than 0.25 per­cent, the re­count must be done by hand.

In Wash­ing­ton, Trump took Scott’s side, telling re­porters that the fed­eral gov­ern­ment could get in­volved and adding: “All of the sud­den they are find­ing votes out of nowhere.”

While the Florida Depart­ment of Law En­force­ment said Fri­day there had been no al­le­ga­tions of fraud, Scott asked — but did not or­der — the agency to in­ves­ti­gate the coun­ties’ elec­tions de­part­ments for pos­si­ble fraud. Dr. Benda Snipes, su­per­vi­sor of elec­tions in Broward County, Fla., gives an up­date on the bal­lot count Thurs­day.

CARLINE JEAN/SOUTH FLORIDA SUN-SEN­TINEL

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