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Judge rejects Scott's request to impound voting machines in Florida recount

By Nicholas Sakelaris and Daniel Uria
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Palm Beach County election workers check ballots during a machine recount for both the governor and senate races in Florida on Monday. Photo by Gary I Rothstein/UPI | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/70f7c01eaafc525ab86d423145107ea4/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
Palm Beach County election workers check ballots during a machine recount for both the governor and senate races in Florida on Monday. Photo by Gary I Rothstein/UPI | License Photo

Nov. 12 (UPI) -- A Florida judge ruled against Gov. Rick Scott's request to impound voting machines Monday as the state prepared for recounts of several state midterm races.

Scott dropped the motion after Broward County Circuit Judge Jack Tuter ruled there was no evidence of voter fraud to support the governor's request to impound ballots and machines in Broward County not in use for the recount.

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Tuter instead offered to add three Broward sheriff's deputies to the security team overseeing the recount, stating "there needs to be an additional layer of confidence" in the recount.

He also warned against government officials alleging voter fraud without proper evidence.

RELATED Glitches delay start of Florida recount for senator, governor

"Everything the lawyers are saying out there at the elections office is being beamed out across the country. We should be careful what we say," Tuter said. "These words mean things these days, as everybody in the room knows."

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Earlier Monday President Donald Trump called for an end to the Florida recount and declared victory for the Republican candidates for U.S. senate and the governor's seat.

The hotly contested races are still undecided with more than 8 million votes being recounted.

RELATED Democrat Sinema widens lead over McSally in Ariz. Senate

In the Senate race, Republican Gov. Rick Scott has a 0.15 percent lead over incumbent Democrat Sen. Bill Nelson. It's a difference of 12,562 votes.

For the governor's race, Republican Rep. Ron DeSantis leads Democrat Andrew Gillum by 34,000 votes, or 0.41 percent.

"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. An honest vote count is no longer possible--ballots massively infected. Must go with Election Night!" Trump tweeted.

Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg also said he hasn't seen any evidence of voter fraud in Tuesday's elections.

Gillum responded to Trump directly, saying, "You sound nervous. #CountEveryVote."

Florida's state Senate race, two state House races and the state agricultural commissioner are also too close to call.

If any of the races are within 0.25 percent after the machine recount, a hand recount will follow.

The recounts must be completed by 3 p.m. Thursday and Tuter said it was paramount that Broward County's Election Supervisor Brenda Snipes, be allowed to finish her job and complete the count.

Snipes said she wasn't concerned her office would meet the Thursday deadline to tally the votes, despite not having begun to recount the more than 700,000 ballots on Monday, the Miami Herald reported.

Meanwhile, voting rights groups Common Cause and the League of Women Voters of Florida filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida Tallahassee Division seeking to block Scott from participating in recounting or certifying the results of the Senate race.

The suit sought a temporary restraining order, stating Scott tried to intimidate election officials by threatening to have law enforcement interfere with the process of counting the ballots.

"Being tasked with certifying the results of an election in which one is running for office poses a risk of bias under the best of circumstances," the suit stated. "But Defendant Scott's efforts to use the authority of his office to advance his campaign and his political party have been extreme."

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Other key races around the country are still in dispute.

In Arizona, ballots are still being counted for the U.S. Senate race between Democrat Kyrsten Sinema and Republican Martha McSally. Sinema had a 1.5 percent lead but there were 215,000 ballots uncounted.

Sinema won the counties where the uncounted ballots are from so it will be an uphill ballot for McSally.

"With the latest ballot count, Kyrsten's lead is insurmountable," Sinema's campaign manager said in a statement Sunday.

Trump also raised the issue of voter fraud in Arizona.

"Just out--Arizona, SIGNATURES DON'T MATCH. Electoral corruption--Call for a new Election? We must protect our Democracy!" Trump tweeted.

In Georgia, the governor's race remains undecided even as Republican candidate Brian Kemp proclaims victory. Democrat Stacey Abrams has refused to concede. The vote margin is at 58,875.

Abrams filed a lawsuit Sunday accusing Kemp, Georgia's secretary of state, of rejecting voter registration applications from minorities prior to the election.

Kemp's campaign responded with a statement that included updated numbers that include military, overseas and provisional ballots. They accused the Abrams campaign of filing frivolous lawsuits and trying to steal the election.

"Stacey Abrams and her radical backers have moved from desperation to delusion," said Ryan Mahoney, communications director for Kemp's campaign. "The counts are in line with publicly available tracking reports. This is not breaking news and does not change the math. Stacey Abrams lost and her concession is long overdue."

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Trump said it's time to move on.

".@BrianKempGA ran a great race in Georgia--he won," Trump tweeted.

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