Florida Gov. Rick Scott sues counties over vote counts

Nicholas Sakelaris and Danielle Haynes
Florida Gov. Rick Scott accused liberals of trying to steal the Senate election in which he faces Sen. Bill Nelson. File Photo by Leigh Vogel/UPI
Florida Gov. Rick Scott accused liberals of trying to steal the Senate election in which he faces Sen. Bill Nelson. File Photo by Leigh Vogel/UPI | License Photo

Nov. 8 (UPI) -- Florida Gov. Rick Scott announced late Thursday he filed a lawsuit against Broward and Palm Beach, accusing elections officials there of withholding voting information and delaying the counting process.

Scott, who narrowly led Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., in the Senate race, said liberals were trying to steal the election. As of 10 p.m. Thursday, Scott had 50.09 percent of the vote over Nelson's 49.91 percent. A 0.5 percent difference in votes automatically triggers a recount in Florida.


"The people of Florida deserve fairness and they deserve transparency and the supervisor of elections is refusing to give it to us," Scott said during a late-night news conference outside the governor's mansion in Tallahassee.

"I will not sit idly by while unethical liberals try to steal this election," he added.

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In the Broward suit, Scott accused Supervisor of Elections Brenda Snipes of withholding information about the number of people who voted in the county and how many ballots have yet to be counted.

"The lack of transparency raises substantial concerns about the validity of the election process," the lawsuit said.

Scott called for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to investigate.

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Nelson said the goal should be to make sure that all Florida votes are counted accurately.

"Rick Scott's action appears to be politically motivated and borne out of desperation," he said.

Two days after the U.S. midterm elections, several key races were in dispute or too close to call.

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In the Florida governor's race, Republican Ron DeSantis held a 36,222 vote lead over Democrat Andrew Gillum, a 0.44 percent difference, as of Thursday night.

Campaigns are scrambling to get provisional ballots counted in the race and have demanded to know how many provisional ballots were given out and the details on who filed them. Provisional ballots are given to voters who may not have the correct form of government-issued ID or their address doesn't match what's on file. The deadline to verify ID was 5 p.m. Thursday.

Election supervisors refused to give details, saying they would not release any identifying information for those who cast provisional ballots.

Florida's race for agriculture commissioner was also close, with 2,910 votes separating the two candidates.

Georgia's gubernatorial race is still close with Republican candidate Brian Kemp declaring victory alongside outgoing Gov. Nathan Deal at a press conference Thursday morning.


But Democratic candidate Stacey Abrams refused to accept defeat and instead declared legal action.

"Our opponent has had his office declare himself the victor and we do not accept that," Abrams said.

Kemp's campaign countered that provisional ballots and overseas ballots will not change the results.

CNN has not yet called the race. Kemp, Georgia's secretary of state, is ahead by 63,000 votes with 99 percent of precincts reporting. He has 50.3 percent of the votes to Abrams 48.7 percent. A Libertarian candidate received 0.9 percent. A runoff election is triggered if no candidate receives 50 percent of the vote.

"Simply put, it is mathematically impossible for Stacey Abrams to win or force a runoff election," Kemp press secretary Cody Hall said.

At the news conference, Kemp said he is stepping down as secretary of state at 11:59 a.m. Thursday as he prepares to take over the governor seat.

"I'm proud of what we've accomplished over the years as secretary of state. We've used technology, innovation to upgrade our systems, enhance cyber security and save tax payers millions of dollars," Kemp said. "It's easy to vote and hard to cheat in Georgia. The numbers underscore this simple truth."


Kemp began his transition Thursday with Deal.

One newly settled race in Georgia was for the state's 6th U.S. House District. Democratic challenger Lucy McBath narrowly defeated Republican incumbent Karen Handel in the election. The race appeared headed for a recount until Handel conceded defeat Wednesday afternoon.

"After carefully reviewing all of the election results data, it is clear that I came up a bit short on Tuesday," Handel said. "Congratulations to Representative-Elect Lucy McBath and [send] her only good thoughts and much prayer for the journey that lies ahead for her."

McBath, whose teenage son Jordan Davis was shot dead over an argument about loud music in 2012, is the first person of color to represent the district and the third black woman Georgia has sent to Congress.

In Arizona, the race for an open U.S. Senate seat remained undecided as some ballots remain uncounted and neither campaign is willing to accept defeat. The Republican party filed a legal challenge arguing that the disparate deadlines for returning defective early votes violates voters' rights.

The race pits Republican Martha McSally against Democrat Kyrsten Sinema. Neither candidate received 50 percent of the vote.


In addition to the problems with early ballots, provisional ballots are also outstanding. There could be hundreds of thousands of votes remaining to be counted.

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