Nelson’s Senate Seat Still Undecided, Scott Orders Fraud Investigation As Race Tightens

Nelson’s Senate Seat Still Undecided, Scott Orders Fraud Investigation As Race Tightens

Sen. Bill Nelson’s seat in the U.S. Senate is still undecided and may remain that way for a while.  As votes continue to be counted, the margin between Nelson and his opponent, Governor Rick Scott, is narrowing.  Anger mounted today on the Republican side as national and state-wide races they thought they won, including the Senate seat, are now in dispute as uncounted ballots are discovered in two Florida counties. Scott has filed a lawsuit against one of them and directed Florida’s law enforcement department to investigate possible “rampant fraud” by elections officials.

Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Florida)

Yesterday morning, the day after the election, Nelson’s campaign issued a statement that the vote difference between the two candidates was less than 0.5 percent, which in Florida means an automatic recount.  At that point, Scott was leading Nelson by 34, 500 votes out of 8.1 million cast, or 0.4 percent.

The first step is for county supervisors in Florida’s 67 counties to recheck their total tallies. They have until Saturday to complete that task.

As vote counting continued, Florida’s Governor’s race also became closer and a recount could be automatically triggered there even though Democratic candidate Andrew Gillum conceded to his opponent, Ron DeSantis, Tuesday night.  Other national and state-wide elections may also be headed to recounts.

In a series of tweets, Sen. Marco Rubio, Florida’s Republican Senator who is not up for reelection this year, conveyed his anger at the process and Broward County’s supervisor of elections, Brenda Snipes, asserting she has “a history of incompetence & of blatant violations of state & federal laws.”

Florida Governor and Senate candidate Rick Scott giving press conference, November 8, 2018.

Snipes was appointed by former Governor Jeb Bush, a Republican, in 2003 and has been reelected four times since, most recently in 2016.  Nevertheless, multiple media reports cite problems with previous elections during her tenure.  Politico calls it a “problematic” county.

At a press conference tonight, Scott listed many of those failures and was also critical of Palm Beach county elections supervisor Susan Bucher.  “Every Floridian should be concerned there may be rampant fraud happening in Palm Beach and Broward counties.”  Scott announced that he has filed a lawsuit against Broward County for not providing information to the public and, claiming that “left wing activists” are trying to steal the election, has asked the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to investigate.  “I am considering ever single legal option available.”

Mark Elias, the lawyer leading Nelson’s recount effort (whom Scott also disparaged), tweeted today that the race is getting closer and closer in Nelson’s favor.

After the vote tallies are confirmed, if the difference is less than 0.5 percent, a machine recount is required.  If it is less than 0.25 percent, a manual recount is required.

This is one of three Senate races that remain undecided.  The others are in Arizona (Sinema v McSally), where votes are still being counted, and Mississippi (Hyde-Smith v Espy), where a runoff election will be held at the end of the month.

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