Florida finds itself again at center of controversy


Florida finds itself again at center of controversy

Associated Press

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 deeply purple state will learn today whether recounts will take place in the bitter, tight U.S. Senate race between Republican Gov. Rick Scott and incumbent 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 punch-card ballots are no longer.

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

Scott said “unethical liberals” were trying to steal the election in Democratic strongholds of Broward and Palm Beach counties. He suggested something was awry because vote-counters were taking longer there than in other jurisdictions, and his thin lead has kept narrowing since election night. Late Friday, he led by 0.18 percentage points, 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 today by Florida’s secretary of state. 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.”

‘’What’s going on in Florida is a disgrace,” he said.

Scott asked the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to investigate the counties’ election departments. However, a spokeswoman for the agency said there were no credible allegations of fraud; therefore, no active investigation.

The governor, meanwhile, filed lawsuits in both counties seeking more information on how their ballots were being tallied. Nelson filed his own federal lawsuit Friday, seeking to postpone today’s deadline to submit unofficial election results.

A judge Friday sided with Scott and ordered Broward County’s election supervisor to release the voter information sought by the governor.

The ruling came as the Broward Canvassing Board met to review ballots that had been initially deemed ineligible. Lawyers from the campaigns, journalists and citizens crowded into a room to observe.

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