Bill Nelson issues first post-election statement in tight U.S. Senate race

Nelson: 'We believe when every legal ballot is counted we'll win this election'

ORLANDO, Fla. - Bill Nelson addressed the public for the first time Friday afternoon since Florida Gov. Rick Scott claimed victory in the tight U.S. Senate race between the two.

[RELATED: Rick Scott sues elections supervisor over ballot countBill Nelson's campaign sues Florida secretary of state]

In his statement, Nelson said he believes once all the ballots are counted, he will win the race.

Read the full statement below.

"This process is about one thing: making sure that every legal ballot is counted and protecting the right of every Floridian to participate in our democracy.

No one should stand in the way of the people of our state exercising their right to vote and to have their voice heard.   

Clearly, Rick Scott is trying to stop all the votes from being counted and he’s impeding the democratic process. You can see this from his irresponsible, unethical and unprecedented press statement last night that he’s worried and he’s desperate.

The reason why he feels that way is obvious: we believe when every legal ballot is counted we’ll win this election.

A public office is a public trust -- I won’t stand for anyone using his position to undermine our democratic process, and neither should the people of Florida. It’s wrong and it goes against every value that we have in our country.  

Scott is abusing the full force of his public office as governor to stop a complete and accurate counting of all the votes in Florida - which would determine whether he wins or loses.

The governor has decided to abandon the most fundamental of all rights, because he fears that he will lose the election if all the votes are counted.

He isn’t telling the truth, which is: votes are not being found; they're being counted.

We will continue to ensure that this election is conducted fairly, the rule of law is followed, and the democratic process is fulfilled.

Thank you and good afternoon."

Both Nelson's and Scott's teams have been fighting to officially secure the win as more ballots are still being counted.

Scott declared himself the winner late Tuesday when he was projected to win the race by around 57,000 votes, according to a news release. His lead has shrunk in the days following the election as more ballots have been found and counted in South Florida.

Scott announced Thursday 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. 

Meanwhile, Nelson's reelection campaign has filed a lawsuit against Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner over vote-by-mail ballots.

In a news conference, Scott claimed Broward County announced there were 634,000 ballots cast on Election Day.

He said Thursday morning, the number went up to 695,700 ballots.

He said Thursday afternoon, the number went up to 707,223 ballots, and on Thursday evening, his staff said the number went up to 712,840 ballots.

"So it has been over 48 hours since the polls closed, and Broward and Palm Beach counties are still finding and counting ballots, and the supervisors -- Brenda Snipes and Susan Bucher -- cannot seem to say how many ballots still exist or where these ballots came from, or where they have been," Scott said.

Scott is demanding Broward Elections Supervisor Brenda Snipes be ordered to turn over several records detailing the counting and collection of ballots cast in the election.

Scott held a 0.18 percentage lead over incumbent Democrat Sen. Bill Nelson on Thursday afternoon.

[MORE: What are odds of recounts changing election results?What comes next if the Secretary of State orders a ballot recount?]

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

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

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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