Florida’s Recount Begins Amid Allegations Officials Tampered with Ballots


Florida’s secretary of state announced Saturday afternoon that the races for governor and senator would will be reviewed through a recount as Republicans allege officials tinkered with the results.

Republican Gov. Rick Scott leads incumbent Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson by more than 12,500 votes. Former Republican Rep. Ron DeSantis leads his opponent, Democratic Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, by nearly 34,000 votes in the Senate race. The paper-thin margin prompted the recount.

Votes will now be recounted by machine after both races fell under the .5 percent margin. Races within .25 percent will then go to a hand recount.

Scott’s campaign is calling on the Nelson to accept the official tally.

“It’s time for Senator Nelson to accept reality and spare the state of the Florida the time, expense and discord of a recount,” the Florida Republican’s spokesman Chris Hartline said in a press statement following the news.

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Nelson shows no signs of giving up, telling reporters in a statement: “We have every expectation the recount will be full and fair and will continue taking action to ensure every vote is counted without interference or efforts to undermine the democratic process.”

Scott initially won the open seat, but days after the election, election supervisors in Broward and Palm Beach counties were still adding votes. The GOP called foul two days later as supervisors allegedly refused to share where the additional ballots were originating and how many were left to count.

Scott filed two lawsuits on Thursday night alleging that Palm Beach County Elections Supervisor Susan Bucher and Broward County Elections Supervisor Brenda Snipes were breaking Florida election law.

A judge ruled in favor of Scott in both cases, ordering Bucher to submit overvoted and undervoted absentee ballots for public review, and forcing Snipes to hand over voter information. An overvote means a person voted for more than the allotted options, while an undervote notes that a voter selected fewer than the available choices.

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The Miami Herald reported late Friday night that Snipes had “accidentally” mixed bad provisional ballots with good ones, making it virtually impossible to determine which of those votes should be counted.

Democratic lawyer Marc Elias, who is running the Nelson recount effort, leveled an allegation of his own Friday. He argued that Florida’s signature matching process puts pressure on “untrained opinions” of poll workers, leading to a “complete lack of uniformity” in how the ballots were tabulated.

“This serves as an outright disenfranchisement and burden on the right to vote,” he told reporters.

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