As the mandatory recount kicks off in Florida, insults and accusations fly between Democrats and Republicans.
As of Sunday morning, Governor Rick Scott (R) leads Senator Bill Nelson (D) by 12,562 votes (by 0.15%) in the Senate race. Representative Ron DeSantis (R) leads Tallahassee mayor Andrew Gillum by 33,684 votes (by 0.41%)) in the gubernatorial race.
Should these numbers hold, DeSantis will be declared the winner after this initial recount, but the Senate race will head to a mandatory second recount, this one by hand. This mandatory second recount is triggered when the vote margin is less than 0.25%.
We’ve been closely following the Florida Senate and gubernatorial races:
- Florida Governor: DeSantis defeats Gillum
- Florida Senate Race heads to Recount
- Rubio Takes Broward County to Task Over Ballot Counting Delay, Opening the Door to “Steal” a Senate Seat
- Florida Recount Update: Rick Scott Suing Broward County, Palm Beach County
- Florida Sec. of State Orders Recount for Both Senate and Governor’s Races (Update)
- Florida Democrat Lawyers Wanted Non-Citizen Votes Counted
With so much at stake in Florida, tension is high on both sides over—among other things—the discrepancy between the number of votes for governor versus those for the Senate.
Bill Scherer, attorney for Republican Gov. Rick Scott, had a front-row seat before Broward County’s canvassing board Sunday morning while election crews calibrated the machines to make sure they were in functioning order.
. . . . “The Democrats are challenging the calibration of the machines,” Scherer told the South Florida Sun Sentinel on Sunday. “They are saying it was a machine glitch” to explain the under votes in the U.S. Senate.
In Broward, nearly 25,000 more people voted in the governor’s race than the U.S. Senate race. Some say voters mistakenly overlooked it because of the way the Broward ballot was designed, with the Senate race in the left-hand column below the instructions.
“Their only hope of overturning this election is claiming there was a machine malfunction,” Scherer said of Democratic leaders. “Those ballots are blank and there’s not a god damn thing they can do about it.”
The poor design of the ballots is at issue, with Republicans claiming that Broward County Supervisor of Elections Brenda Snipes is “incompetent” and that the ballot is poorly-designed.
The Sun-Sentinel continues:
Scherer says he too thinks voters overlooked the Senate race because of the poor design of the ballot.
“The ballot was laid out in an incompetent fashion by the incompetent supervisor of elections,” he said, referring to Snipes, Broward’s supervisor of elections.
Scherer said even his own wife didn’t notice the Senate race on the ballot. He had to point it out to her when they were filling out their mail-in ballots.
“My wife did not see it on the ballot,” he said. “I told her to look again, it’s the first thing on the ballot.”
Mitchell Berger, attorney for Florida Democratic Party, fired back on Sunday.
“Before we even started the process, the Republicans chose to sue Brenda Snipes,” he said outside the room where the recount was underway. “I don’t know why anyone would want to create chaos right now.”
Berger defended Snipes and her staff, noting they were already under intense pressure and trying to do a difficult job in a difficult situation.
Adding to the tension, Broward’s under votes appear to be unique to Broward county.
Broward County, just north of Miami, is home to nearly 2 million people, making it one of the largest counties in America. For Democrats, it is also a vote-producing behemoth, typically accounting for more than 10 percent of all of the votes they receive statewide. Not surprisingly, based on the ballots counted from Broward so far, Nelson is crushing his Republican opponent, Gov. Rick Scott, 69 percent to 31 percent.
But that’s where the ballot issue comes in. While there have been a lot of votes cast in Broward in the Senate race, there were more cast in the governor’s race. As of Saturday, the gap stood at about 26,000.
This means that on about 26,000 ballots, voters registered their choice in the governor’s race, which pitted Democrat Andrew Gillum against Republican Ron DeSantis, but not for Senate. That adds up to about 3.7 percent of all ballots cast in Broward. To put it mildly, that number is radically higher than anything found in any of Florida’s 66 other counties, where votes cast in the Senate and gubernatorial races have tracked about evenly.
. . . . And, as political cartographer Matthew Isbell discovered, in the small portion of Broward County that is part of the 24th District, the number of ballots that contained no vote in the Senate race exploded. Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute, also examined results from precincts around the county and found that the number of non-votes in the Senate race was significantly higher than the statewide average everywhere — and particularly in the 24th District.
Meanwhile, Scott is accusing Nelson of ” trying to commit fraud to win this election.”
Scott said Sunday that Nelson wants fraudulent ballots and those cast by noncitizens to count.
“He is trying to commit fraud to win this election,” Scott told Fox News. “Bill Nelson’s a sore loser. He’s been in politics way too long.” Scott’s campaign did not immediately respond to an email request for evidence supporting his fraud allegations.
Both the state elections division, which Scott runs, and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement have said they have found no evidence of voter fraud.
DeSantis, who currently appears poised to become Florida’s next governor, calls the results “clear and unambiguous,” even as Gillum retracts his concession.
“Let me say clearly, I am replacing my words of concession with an uncompromised and unapologetic call that we count every single vote,” [Gillum] said. . . .
In a video statement released Saturday, DeSantis said the election results were “clear and unambiguous” and that he was preparing to become the state’s next governor. He also thanked the state’s supervisors of elections, canvassing boards, and the staffs for “working hard to ensure that all lawful votes are counted.”
“It is important that everyone involved in the election process strictly adhere to the rule of law which is the foundation for our nation,” he said.
Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) says that “elections should not be decided by who hires the best lawyers” and makes a distinction between voting fraud and the role of election lawyers: “I didn’t say fraud, I said election lawyers are down here to steal an election.”
Rubio also lays out the issues surrounding the Broward county irregularities and concludes that Snipes is either incompetent or that “something nefarious” is going on.
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