Election updates: Andrew Gillum warns against vote suppression

Broward recount underway after delay

By Associated Press, ClickOrlando.com staff

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - After Election Day in Florida several major races, including U.S. Senate, remain up in the air as votes are still being counted.

Here's the latest on a possible recount of Florida's election:

SUNDAY

8 p.m.

The Democratic candidate for Florida governor, Andrew Gillum, has told an overflow crowd at an African-American church that voter disenfranchisement isn't just about being blocked from the polling booth.

Gillum said Sunday evening that disenfranchisement also includes absentee ballots not being counted and ballots where "a volunteer may have the option of looking at that ballot and deciding that vote is null and void" because of a mismatched signature.

Gillum warned against vote suppression at the close of a day of mishaps, protests and litigation overshadowing the vote recounting in the pivotal races for governor and the U.S. Senate. Gillum has argued each vote should be counted and the process should take its course.

Unofficial results show that Republican former U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis led Gillum the Tallahassee mayor, by less than 0.5 percentage points. In the Senate race, Republican Gov. Rick Scott's lead over Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson is less than 0.25 percentage points.

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6:15 p.m

The recount of Florida's razor-thin Senate and gubernatorial races is off to a bumpy start with some mishaps and litigation, bringing back memories of the 2000 presidential fiasco.

Gov. Rick Scott, the Republican candidate for Senate, filed suit on Sunday against Brenda Snipes as Broward County's election supervisor. The suit asks a circuit court judge to order law enforcement agents to impound and secure the county's voting machines, tallying devices and ballots "when not in use until such time as any recounts."

The lawsuit says Snipes has failed to account for the number of ballots left to be counted and failed to report results regularly as required by law. The county is emerging as the epicenter of controversy in the recount.

The Florida secretary of state ordered the recounts to be completed by Thursday in all 67 Florida counties.

Unofficial results in the governor's race show Republican former U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis led Democratic Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum by less than 0.5 percentage points. In the Senate race, Scott's lead over Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson is less than 0.25 percentage points.

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2:30 p.m.

Delays and some mishaps have marked the start of the recount in Florida's razor-thin Senate and gubernatorial races.

The start of the recount in Florida's Democratic-leaning Broward County was delayed Sunday because of a problem with one of the tabulation machines. The Republican Party attacked Broward's supervisor of elections, Brenda Snipes, of "incompetence and gross mismanagement" following the delay, which was resolved within two hours.

The county, the state's second-most populous, is emerging as the epicenter of controversy in the recount.

Broward officials said they mistakenly counted 22 absentee ballots that had been rejected, mostly because the signature on the return envelope did not match the one on file. It is a problem that appears impossible to fix because the ballots were mixed in with 205 legal ballots. Snipes said it would be unfair to throw out all the ballots.

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11:40 a.m.

The recounting of Senate and gubernatorial ballots is underway in Florida's second most-populous county after it fixed problems with its machines.

The canvassing board of Broward County learned Sunday that two of those machines, which were originally intended for Orlando, were sent to Broward County to help the other machines in the recount. They will be tested for accuracy Monday and then be put into use to tally ballots.

Broward County began counting about 700,000 ballots Sunday after a more than two-hour delay caused by a tested machine that wasn't registering all ballots. Republican representatives asked that all machines be retested and county officials agreed.

The heavily Democratic county is one of two where Republicans have made allegations of possible ballot fraud. State elections and law enforcement officials say they have seen no evidence suggesting the allegations are true.

The Florida secretary of state ordered the recounts Saturday. The count must be completed by Thursday.

Unofficial results show that Republican former U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis led Democratic Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum by less than 0.5 percentage points. In the Senate race, Republican Gov. Rick Scott's lead over Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson is less than 0.25 percentage points.

9:40 a.m.

The recounting of Senate and gubernatorial ballots has been delayed in Florida's second most-populous county because of problems with the machines.

 Broward County is scheduled to begin counting about 700,000 ballots Sunday morning, but a tested machine wasn't registering all ballots. Republican representatives asked that all machines be retested and county officials agreed.

The heavily Democratic county is one of two where Republicans have made allegations of possible ballot fraud. State elections and law enforcement officials say they have seen no evidence suggesting the allegations are true.

The Florida secretary of state ordered the recounts Saturday. The count must be completed by Thursday.

Unofficial results show that Republican former U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis led Democratic Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum by less than 0.5 percentage points. In the Senate race, Republican Gov. Rick Scott's lead over Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson is less than 0.25 percentage points.

12:05 a.m.

Elections workers are beginning to recount ballots in Florida's U.S. Senate and governor races under a state-ordered review of the two nationally watched races.

Miami-Dade County election officials began feeding ballots into scanning machines Saturday evening, among the first in Florida's 67 counties tasked with a Nov. 15 deadline to submit vote counts to the state.

The Florida secretary of state ordered the recounts Saturday.

Unofficial results show that Republican former U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis led Democratic Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum by less than 0.5 percentage points. In the Senate race, Republican Gov. Rick Scott's lead over Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson is less than 0.25 percentage points.

SATURDAY

7:50 p.m.

Miami-Dade County elections officials say they've started recounting ballots from Tuesday's election.

Officials from the county's elections office confirmed Saturday evening that they've started a machine recount, which means they will load paper ballots into scanning machines. This could take days, considering there were some 800,000 ballots cast.

The unofficial results show that Republican former U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis led Democratic Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum by less than 0.5 percentage points, which will require a machine recount of ballots.

In the Senate race, Republican Gov. Rick Scott's lead over Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson is less than 0.25 percentage points, which will require a hand recount of ballots from tabulation machines that couldn't determine which candidate got the vote.

The Florida secretary of state earlier Saturday ordered the recounts in the U.S. Senate and governor races, an unprecedented review of two major races in the state that took five weeks to decide the 2000 presidential election.

Nov. 15 is the deadline for each county to submit vote counts to the state.

6:15 p.m.

A lawyer for Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson says the campaign is looking into whether vote-by-mail ballots handled by the same U.S. mail facility that processed explosive packages intended for Democratic leaders weren't delivered on time.

Marc Elias says he's concerned about news reports that ballots in an Opa-locka postal facility may not have been delivered before the 7 p.m. Election Day deadline. Opa-locka is in Miami-Dade County, which tends to heavily support Democratic candidates.

Elias says, "I would hope that we can all agree, I would hope that even folks on the other side of the aisle would agree that no one should be disenfranchised because the postal service, for one reason or another, was unable to deliver ballots."

A 30-count indictment was handed up recently in Manhattan federal court against 56-year-old Cesar Sayoc of Plantation, Florida. Authorities say he sent improvised devices intended for numerous Democrats, critics of President Donald Trump and CNN. None of the devices exploded and no one was hurt.

5:40 p.m.

Two voting rights groups are asking Gov. Rick Scott to remove himself from any oversight of the 2018 election. They said that if he doesn't, they will take him to court.

In a letter to Scott released to the media, the League of Women Voters and Common Cause said he should step down to ensure there's no appearance of any impropriety, undue influence or conflict of interest.

The groups said that Scott intentionally "politicized" his oversight of the elections by calling for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to investigate his suspicions of voter fraud in South Florida.

The FDLE said it hasn't launched an investigation of voter fraud, and the state's election division, which Scott runs, said Saturday that its observers in Broward had seen "no evidence of criminal activity."

In the Senate race, Republican Gov. Rick Scott's lead over Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson is less than 0.25 percentage points, which will require a hand recount of ballots from tabulation machines that couldn't determine which candidate got the vote.

4:30 p.m.

Republican Ron DeSantis says Florida election results are clear and he is moving forward as he prepares to be the state's next governor.

"Those results are clear and unambiguous, just as they were on Election Night," DeSantis, a former congressman, said in a video posted Saturday on YouTube by the Republican Party of Florida.

Unofficial election results submitted Saturday show DeSantis ahead of Democratic Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum by less than 0.5 percentage points. Under state law, that margin requires a machine recount of ballots.

While DeSantis said it's important to follow state law, he added, "With the election behind us, it's now time to come together as a state as we prepare to serve all Floridians."

3:40 p.m.

Democrat Andrew Gillum has withdrawn his concession in the Florida gubernatorial race following a recount.

"I am replacing my words of concession with an uncompromised and unapologetic call that we count every single vote," Gillum said at a press conference in Tallahassee on Saturday.

Unofficial election results showed Republican former U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis ahead of Gillum by less than 0.5 percentage points. Under state law, such a margin requires a machine recount of ballots.

Gillum had conceded the race to DeSantis on Tuesday night.

1:55 p.m.

The Florida secretary of state is ordering recounts in the U.S. Senate and governor races, an unprecedented review of two major races in the state that took five weeks to decide the 2000 presidential election.

Secretary Ken Detzner issued the order on Saturday after the unofficial results in both races fell within the margin that by law triggers a recount.

The unofficial results show that Republican former U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis led Democratic Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum by less than 0.5 percentage points, which will require a machine recount of ballots.

In the Senate race, Republican Gov. Rick Scott's lead over Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson is less than 0.25 percentage points, which will require a hand recount of ballots from tabulation machines that couldn't determine which candidate got the vote

12:40 p.m.

The deadline to submit unofficial vote tallies in Florida's election has passed.

County elections supervisors had until noon Saturday to submit results. Now the state must announce whether recounts are needed in the U.S. Senate and governor races.

As the deadline arrived, Republican former U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis led Democratic Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum by less than 0.5 percentage points in the governor's race, which would require a machine recount of ballots.

In the Senate race, Republican Gov. Rick Scott's lead over Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson was less than 0.25 percentage points, which would require a hand recount of ballots in which tabulation machines couldn't detect a vote.

10 a.m.

Circuit Judge Krista Marx denied Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher's motion  for "declaratory and injunctive relief" in canvassing for duplicate ballots and any "overvoted" or "undervoted" ballots.

Marx extended the deadline until noon and said that the county must be in "substantial compliance" with the order.

FRIDAY

6:25 p.m.

Judges in Palm Beach and Broward counties have sided with Florida Gov. Rick Scott against two supervisors of elections.

Circuit Judge Krista Marx on Friday ordered Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher to give the county canvassing board any duplicate ballots and any "overvoted" or "undervoted" ballots that have not yet been provided to the board by 10 a.m. Saturday.

In Broward County, Circuit Judge Carol-Lisa Phillips set a 7 p.m. Friday deadline for Supervisor of Elections Brenda Snipes to turn over the voter information under Florida's open records laws.

Scott's campaign filed the lawsuits late Thursday, when he said during a news conference that "unethical liberals" are trying to steal the election.

The outgoing Republican governor is running for U.S. Senate against Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson. Scott's thin lead over Nelson will likely prompt a recount.

5:10 p.m.

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson says his Republican challenger, Florida Gov. Rick Scott, fears that he will lose the election if all the votes are counted.

Nelson said Friday afternoon that Scott is impeding the democratic process and trying to stop all the votes for Florida's U.S. Senate race from being counted.

Scott has filed lawsuits against elections officials in Broward and Palm Beach counties and asked state law enforcement to investigate possible fraud. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement says no elections fraud allegations have been made, and there isn't an active investigation.

Scott said Thursday night that Democrats are continuing to find votes until they get the results they want.

Nelson responded that "votes are not being found; they're being counted."

4:05 p.m.

A Broward County judge has ordered the immediate release of voter information sought by Florida Gov. Rick Scott from the county's supervisor of elections.

Circuit Judge Carol-Lisa Phillips set a 7 p.m. Friday deadline for Supervisor of Elections Brenda Snipes to turn over the voter information under Florida's open records laws. Phillips found that Snipes violated that law by failing to turn over the information to attorneys for Scott's Senate campaign and the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

Lawyers for Snipes argued that requiring such a swift response would interfere with ongoing efforts to finish counting Broward County ballots. But lawyers for Scott contended the information is already required to be collected under state law and should take minutes to provide.

The information sought includes ballots not yet reviewed by the Canvassing Board, absentee ballots and early voting ballots.

3:25 p.m.

A spokeswoman says state law enforcement officials in Florida have not launched any elections-fraud allegations. The statement came a day after Republican Gov. Rick Scott said he would ask the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to investigate elections offices in Broward and Palm Beach counties.

That's where votes are being tallied in the U.S. Senate race between Scott and incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson.

Department spokeswoman Gretl Pelssinger said Friday that the agency is working with the Department of State and will investigate any allegations of elections fraud, but right now there are no such allegations.

Scott announced his intention to have law enforcement look into Broward and Palm Beach counties at a news conference Thursday night. Shortly after, President Donald Trump tweeted that law enforcement was looking into another big corruption scandal, claiming "Florida voted for Rick Scott!"

Scott holds a razor-thin lead over Nelson. Under Florida law, a recount is mandatory if the winning candidate's margin is less than 0.5 percentage points.

Scott says "unethical liberals" are trying to steal the election.

2:40 p.m.

With a razor-thin margin in the race for Florida's U.S. Senate, the two sides are throwing jabs at each other over separate lawsuits.

Jackie Schutz Zeckman is campaign manager for Gov. Rick Scott, who ran against Democratic incumbent U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson. Scott declared victory in Tuesday's election, but Nelson has not conceded and ballot-counting continues.  The race remains too close to call, with Nelson narrowly trailing Scott.

Nelson and the Florida Democratic Party are suing to prevent elections officials statewide from throwing out mail-in votes and provisional ballots. They also have asked a federal court to extend the deadline for counties to submit unofficial election results.

Zeckman said Friday that the lawsuit is asking the court "to overrule election officials and accept ballots that were not legally cast."

Earlier Friday, Nelson lawyer Marc Elias criticized Scott for suggesting that he might get the state government involved.

Elias said it was "not appropriate" for a governor to suggest he was going to "interject his law enforcement authority to prevent the counting of ballots that have been legally cast."

1 p.m.

A group of about 30 sign-holding Republican protesters gathered outside the office of Broward County Supervisor of Elections Brenda Snipes, singing "The Star Spangled Banner" and "God Bless America."

As the counting of ballots resumed Friday afternoon, Republican U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetzcalled Snipe "either incompetent or corrupt" and accused her of "spinning ballots out of nothing" in the Senate seat between Republican Gov. Rick Scott and Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson.

Gaetz, whose district is in Florida's Panhandle, also said the state should take over the Broward elections office.

Protesters held signs that said, "Brenda Snipes has to go," "stop creating votes" and "don't steal our election."

12:15 p.m.

 A lawyer for Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson criticized Republican Gov. Rick Scott for using his official position to try to influence ballot counting as the two face a potential hand recount in the too-close-to-call Senate race.

During a Thursday night news conference, Scott announced he is suing the Palm Beach and Broward county supervisors of elections, saying "there may be rampant fraud" in the counties that heavily favor Democrats. He's asked the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to investigate.

On Friday, Nelson lawyer Marc Elias shot back at Scott on a conference call with reporters, saying "Just look at the behavior of your governor."

Elias says it's "not appropriate" for a governor to suggest he's going to use his powers to "interject his law enforcement authority to prevent the counting of ballots that have been legally cast."

12 p.m.

The Florida Democratic Party filed a lawsuit against Volusia County Supervisor of Elections Lisa Lewis after the group asked for a list of provisional ballots, but said she refused.

An emergency hearing will be held Friday at 3 p.m. at the DeLand Courthouse. The group is asking for a court order to make Lewis provide the list.

11:08 a.m.

A hearing has been set for Friday morning in Palm Beach County after the National Republican Senatorial Committee filed a lawsuit against Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher, accusing her of refusing to allow Scott’s representatives to personally witness the ballot counting, according to CBS affiliate WPEC. The suit accuses Bucher of keeping the county canvassing board from performing its duties.

8:55 a.m.

A court in South Florida has been asked to intervene in the tight U.S. Senate race between Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson and Republican Florida Gov. Rick Scott as the two sides prepare for a possible recount. A hearing was set for 3 p.m. in state court.

Scott filed lawsuit against Broward County Supervisors of Election Brenda Snipes Thursday night, asking the court to order Snipes to turn over several records detailing the counting and collection of ballots. Scott's thin lead over Nelson has narrowed in the vote-counting in the days since he declared victory on Tuesday night.

Without citing any evidence of wrongdoing, Scott also asked Florida Department of Law Enforcement to investigate elections offices in the Democratic strongholds of Palm Beach and Broward counties, questioning whether they have been taking too long in some sort of effort to inflate the Democratic vote.

12:42 a.m.

Razor-thin margins in Florida's bitter races for the U.S. Senate and governor are raising the possibility of recounts, potentially prolonging two of the most closely watched contests of the nation's midterm elections.

In the governor's race, Democrat Andrew Gillum's campaign said Thursday it's readying for a possible recount. He conceded to Republican Ron DeSantis on Tuesday night, though the race has since tightened. DeSantis led Gillum by 0.47 percentage point as of Thursday afternoon.

Meanwhile, Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson has begun preparing for a potential recount in a race that is still too close to call against Republican Gov. Rick Scott. Scott held a 0.21 percentage lead over Nelson on Thursday afternoon.

The tight races underscored Florida's status as a perennial swing state where elections are often decided by the thinnest of margins.

In 2000, Florida decided the presidency by a few hundred votes in a contest that took more than five weeks to sort out.
 

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