The drama continues in Florida!

A judge has ruled in two legal challenges while Republican Senate candidate Gov. Rick Scott claimed that Broward County intentionally missed the deadline and caused him to lose almost 800 votes.

Broward County started its manual recount at 8AM ET and managed to finish it at 10AM ET.

Broward County

I blogged yesterday that Broward County managed to make the 3PM deadline Thursday, but it turns out the officials submitted results two minutes after the deadline.

That means the machine recount tally is null and void. The tally that came in on Tuesday’s election day will stand.

Scott accused Broward County Supervisor of Elections Brenda Snipes of missing the deadline on purpose because incumbent Democrat Sen. Bill Nelson lost votes in the recount while Scott gained around 800 votes. From Fox News:

The news of the bungled ballot count comes after Snipes boasted about never missing a deadline.

“We are excited to be at this point,” she said Thursday afternoon.

Later, Snipes acknowledged that “the results were in progress when I came out and made” that statement.

“An election like the one we just finished almost has so many moving parts and so many components,” Snipes said. “I’m pleased that we were able to accomplish what we did accomplish in the period of time that was available.”

Other Broward County officials were more blunt.

“Basically, I just worked my ass off for nothing,” said Joseph D’Alessandro, Broward County’s election planning and development director.

D’Alessandro said he had a hard time uploading the results in time because he wasn’t familiar with the website used to send them to the secretary of state.

Despite this screwup, a manual recount will take place in the senate race since Scott leads Nelson by less than 13,000 votes. This places him barely below the .15% threshold to trigger a manual recount:

Counties have until Nov. 18 to submit the results from the recount. Officials will have to count at least 53,769 ballots by hand for the Senate race, according to The Associated Press.

The margin between Scott and Nelson had not changed much in the last few days, conceded Marc Elias, an attorney working for Nelson’s campaign. But he said he expects it to shrink due to the hand recount and the ruling on signatures.

Manual Recount

The manual recount has already started at Broward County. The Miami Herald reported when the volunteers showed up:

Once inside, where they’ll stay until 8 p.m., they relinquished their food, water, phones and other possessions inside an unsecured room. They donned name tags and lanyards with their party affiliation and took a seat at one of the hundred plastic folding tables set up in the building’s warehouse.

Each table holds at least one Republican representative, one Democratic representative and a two-person volunteer counting team. For the next three days, they’ll sort though tens of thousands of ballots with under and over votes.

They’ll categorize ballots into four boxes: clear indication blue (for Democratic votes), clear indication red (for Republican votes), canvassing and no vote, not counted.

Any contested ballots will be judged by the canvassing board.

The manual recount ended at 10AM, but “officials have given no official count or estimate on the number of under and over votes counted Friday.”

Judge Delivers Blow to Nelson

Federal Judge Mark Walker tossed out the lawsuit Nelson filed “that challenged the rules county canvassing boards use to decipher and count certain votes.”

From Politico:

The case filed Tuesday with the U.S. District Court in Tallahassee challenged two state Division of Elections rules known as the “magic words” requirement and the “consistency” requirement. Lawyers for Nelson’s campaign argued they violated free speech and equal protections provisions in the U.S. Constitution.

In a ruling handed down early Friday, Walker wrote the rules are prudent.

“The issue is whether the use of these reasonable and natural rules is constitutional,” Walker wrote. “It is.”

The case was one of several brought by Nelson’s campaign in anticipation of the manual recount that Secretary of State Ken Detzner ordered Thursday. Nelson trails Republican Gov. Rick Scott by just 12,603 votes.

Walker also ruled that Scott can continue to oversee the recount. From The Miami Herald:

He also rejected a request by the League of Women Voters and Common Cause to prevent Gov. Rick Scott from exercising any authority over the recount process.

Walker, recalling Scott’s nighttime press conference on the steps of the Governor’s Mansion on Nov. 8, described the governor as “careening perilously close to a due process violation.”

But he said Scott has not “crossed that line” of exceeding his lawful authority as Florida’s chief executive, and he noted that Scott, as the Republican U.S. Senate candidate, has recused himself from certifying Florida’s election results.