Published: Wed, November 14, 2018
Global News | By Blake Casey

Trump urges Florida to halt vote recount and hand races to Republicans

Trump urges Florida to halt vote recount and hand races to Republicans

Daniel Nordby, a lawyer for the Republican governor, told a federal judge Wednesday that Scott will recuse himself from the state's canvassing commission.

The Democratic National Committee and veterans' advocacy group VoteVets Action Fund filed a new lawsuit on Monday asking a federal judge to order Florida officials to accept all mail-in ballots postmarked by Election Day, rather than only those received by 7 p.m. that day, the same time that polls closed.

Leads by the Republican candidates in two key contested races - one for a seat in the US Senate and one for the governor's office - shrank as more ballots were tallied following last Tuesday's election.

Recounts were ordered for three major Florida elections after the votes were too close to call last week. Even though the state elections officials-the Republican state elections officials-say they've seen no evidence of fraud, both Scott and Trump have continued to press their thumbs on the scales as hard as they can.

Meanwhile, in Palm Beach, Elections Supervisor Susan Bucher said the county's 11-year-old tallying machines aren't fast enough to complete the recount by Thursday.

Mr Nelson's campaign sent a video statement on Friday in which the senator said: "Scott is trying to stop all the votes from being counted and he's impeding the democratic process". The county is doing the Senate race first and will then do the governor.

Florida is no stranger to election drama, having been the site of the 2000 recount on which the presidential election hung.

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In the race for governor, former US Representative Ron DeSantis led his Democrat rival and Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum by a margin of 0.41 percent. State law mandates recounts in elections where margin of victory is within 0.5 percentage points. Though we have a solid Republican majority in our state house, our state senate has a slim Republican majority; a Gillum win, combined with a few more elections, could, at the very least, result in a split house and senate. He hosted a "count every vote" event at a church in Broward County on Sunday afternoon.

"The Florida Election should be called in favor of Rick Scott and Ron DeSantis in that large numbers of new ballots showed up out of nowhere, and many ballots are missing or forged", Trump said in a tweet that misstated what Florida officials have concluded.

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Unofficial totals have candidates in both races separated by less than 0.25 percentage points, the standard that will trigger a hand recount. That list includes President Donald Trump and Gov. Rick Scott.

Even Human Rights Watch, a non-government organisation more commonly associated with violations in authoritarian regimes, said: "Voters in Florida must be heard".

"For another county that is saying they may not be able to [meet the deadline], they should look at the county that had the most ballots to count to see how it is done", said Lopez-Cantera. At this point, the Senate race is the only one that qualifies for a hand recount.

Nelson attorney Marc Elias argued that ballots should be counted as long as they were postmarked by November 6. The motion was supported by lawyers representing the state Republican Party and opposed by Snipes' office, Nelson's campaign and the state Democratic Party.

The deadline for officials to complete the machine-recount is Thursday.

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, a Republican, has called for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to investigate the governor's claims of voter fraud.

Gillum says claims by Trump and Scott about electoral fraud in counties that were taking time counting ballots were equivalent to trying to disenfranchise voters.

This year's election was also complicated by an extremely long ballot with several state constitutional questions, and by the state's election apparatus, McDonald says, calling it "vastly underfunded".

If the county can't finish the machine recount, it must submit its original count with an explanation for why it failed to meet the deadline, according to Florida laws governing recounts.

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