Florida vote count­ing drags on amid an­gry protests

Lodi News-Sentinel - - BUSINESS - By Skyler Swisher, Larry Barszewski, Linda Trischitta and Rafael Olmeda

FORT LAUD­ERDALE, Fla. — Fraud claims, an­gry protests and court­room skir­mishes spread Fri­day as vote count­ing dragged on in Broward and Palm Beach coun­ties, draw­ing the na­tion’s ridicule back to Florida with shades of the in­fa­mous 2000 pres­i­den­tial re­count.

Fu­eled by tweets from Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, dozens of pro­test­ers stormed Broward County’s elec­tions of­fice, di­rect­ing a chant of “lock her up” at Brenda Snipes, the county’s su­per­vi­sor of elec­tions. Demon­stra­tors in Palm Beach County de­manded that every vote be counted.

Fac­ing a dead­line of noon Satur­day to sub­mit the first un­of­fi­cial re­sults, can­vass­ing board mem­bers con­tin­ued to scru­ti­nize pro­vi­sional bal­lots well into the evening.

As of Fri­day night, an un­de­ter­mined num­ber of bal­lots re­mained to be counted in Palm Beach and Broward coun­ties. Palm Beach County elec­tions chief Su­san Bucher said her county’s can­vass­ing board could have the first un­of­fi­cial votes in late Fri­day night, slightly ahead of the dead­line.

The stakes are high with three statewide races likely headed for re­counts.

In the closely watched race for U.S. Se­nate, Scott led Demo­cratic in­cum­bent Bill Nel­son by 14,855 votes as of Fri­day night, a mar­gin close enough to trig­ger a hand re­count. The gover­nor’s con­test is close enough to war­rant a ma­chine re­count with Repub­li­can Ron DeSan­tis hold­ing a 36,002-vote lead over Demo­cratic nom­i­nee An­drew Gil­lum. In the race for agri­cul­ture com­mis­sioner, Demo­crat Nikki Fried led Repub­li­can Matt Cald­well by 3,120 votes.

Ma­chine re­counts could start as early as Sun­day morn­ing and must be fin­ished by Thurs­day.

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