Judge rules in favor of Florida Gov. Rick Scott over voting information

By Ed Adamczyk and Danielle Haynes
Supporters of Senator Bill Nelson react to vote numbers at a watch party in Orlando, Fla., on November 6, 2018. Nelson campaigned against Republican Rick Scott and the result remains undecided and too close to call. Photo by Gary I Rothstein/UPI
Supporters of Senator Bill Nelson react to vote numbers at a watch party in Orlando, Fla., on November 6, 2018. Nelson campaigned against Republican Rick Scott and the result remains undecided and too close to call. Photo by Gary I Rothstein/UPI | License Photo

Nov. 9 (UPI) -- A Florida judge on Friday ruled in favor of Gov. Rick Scott's lawsuit seeking voter information from the Broward County elections supervisor.

Broward Circuit Judge Carol-Lisa Phillips ordered Broward Elections Supervisor Brenda Snipes to provide the number of ballots cast, how many have been counted and how many have yet to be counted by Friday evening.


Scott, who is locked in a tight race against Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., for Florida's Senate seat, sued Snipes and Palm Beach County on Thursday, accusing elections officials of withholding voting information and denying the counting process.

Scott held a 0.18 percent lead over Nelson -- a difference of about 15,000 votes -- a small enough advantage to trigger a manual recount of votes. Broward and Palm Beach counties were still counting absentee ballots Friday.


Scott's lead has narrowed since Tuesday, when he declared victory with a 56,000-vote lead.

Florida's gubernatorial race also appears headed to an automatic recount, triggered when two candidates are separated by a half-percentage point or less, according to state law. Democrat Andrew Gillum trailed Republican Ron DeSantis by 36,002 votes as of Friday afternoon, a difference of 0.44 percentage points

Continued vote-counting in Broward and Palm Beach counties has narrowed the margin between the candidates, and unofficial results must be reported to the secretary of state by noon on Saturday. Nelson's campaign has sued to extend that deadline.

About 75 GOP protesters assembled on Friday at Snipes' office after Scott asked for a state police investigation into the vote count, citing "rampant fraud" in the county.

"Lock her up" and "Stop the steal" were among chants heard at the demonstration.

President Donald Trump said Friday the federal government could be involved in the vote count.

"If you look at Broward and Palm Beach [counties] to a lesser extent, they have had a horrible history," Trump said. "And if you look at the person, in this case a woman, involved, she has had a horrible history. All of a sudden they are finding votes out of nowhere. Every couple of hours, it [Scott's lead] goes down a little bit."


Broward County traditionally exhibits a high rate of "undervoting" in its elections, in which many voters ignore one or more contests on the ballot. In Tuesday's case, the Florida governor's race saw 3.7 percent more votes cast in the county than in the Senate race. The difference, in the Senate race, amounts to over 26,000 votes. No other Florida county exhibited more than a 0.8 percent difference in the number of votes in the gubernatorial and Senate races. Since contests for higher elected offices tend to draw the most attention and interest, voters are less likely to skip them when voting.

It suggests an irregularity in Broward County's voting procedures, which may be the design of the ballot, polling news website Fivethirtyeight suggested Friday. Paper ballots used Tuesday put the Senate race at the bottom left, where some voters could have missed it. The governor's race was at the top center of the ballot, immediately beneath the voting instructions.


In Georgia, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams vowed to stay in the race against Republican Brian Kemp until every ballot is counted. Kemp, who was Georgia's Secretary of State and administrator of the election until his resignation Thursday, said about 25,000 provisional and absentee ballots have yet to be counted.


As of Friday, Kemp had received 50.3 percent of the vote, or 1,979,913 votes. Abrams had 48.7 percent, with other candidates receiving 0.9 percent, NBC News reported.

The Georgia Democratic Party alleged in a lawsuit filed this week that Daugherty County voters were denied the opportunity to cast ballots by mail in the gubernatorial election.

Trump, who campaigned for Kemp, weighed in on the Georgia election as well on Friday, sarcastically suggesting on Twitter that Russian President Vladimir Putin should be blamed for any missing votes in the state.


The latest count on Friday in Arizona's Senate race indicated Democrat Kyrsten Sinema held a 9,000-vote lead over Republican Martha McSally, with about 400,000 votes not yet counted. The difference between the candidates at the moment is 0.5 percentage points.

About three-quarters of Arizona votes are mail-in ballots, and Republicans have challenged the process of counting them in the state's two largest counties. The lawsuit targets Maricopa and Pima counties, which allow voters to make changes to their ballots, notably signature changes, for up to five days after Election Day. The tedious process slows the counting of votes.


The Arizona Republican Party sued Maricopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes on Friday, accusing him of "premeditated destruction of evidence" over verification of signatures on some early ballots.

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