Rick Scott campaign to file multiple lawsuits

Florida GOP Gov. Rick Scott's campaign is filing three lawsuits against county election officials as a recount has gotten underway in the Senate contest between himself and Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson.

Posted: Nov 12, 2018 2:57 PM
Updated: Nov 12, 2018 3:12 PM

The recount in Florida only began this weekend, but time is already bleeding away for election officials racing to meet the state's Thursday deadline to complete their work.

As volunteers rush to complete the legally mandated review, Republican Gov. Rick Scott -- who leads in his race against Democratic incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson -- is again upping the stakes by suing to require law enforcement officials to seize ballots and tallying machines in Broward and Palm Beach counties during any break in the action.

The suit, which will be heard early on Monday, is part of a larger developing Republican strategy to cast the recount as an opportunity for fraudsters to hijack the election. On Friday, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement said it was not investigating anything related to the election after the Florida Department of State said there were no allegations of criminal activity.

Scott and President Donald Trump have alleged, without evidence, that Democrats were conspiring to overturn the initial results. The President, alleging that "many ballots are missing or forged," tweeted Monday morning that "an honest vote count is no longer possible," and Scott accused Nelson of trying to "commit fraud to try to win this election."

"No ragtag group of liberal activists or lawyers from DC will be allowed to steal this election," Scott told Fox News on Sunday morning, shortly before he launched a trio of new lawsuits.

Florida Democrats reacted to Republican legal maneuvering by comparing Scott to a strongman striking out at the infrastructure of the vote.

"Rick Scott is doing his best to impersonate Latin American dictators who have overthrown Democracies in Venezuela and Cuba," the state party said in a statement. "The Governor is using his position to consolidate power by cutting at the very core of our Democracy."

Eugene Pettis, an attorney for controversial Broward elections chief Brenda Snipes, responded to the lawsuit by insisting she had already secured the facilities.

"Dr. Snipes has taken multiple measures to make sure that the election machines and ballots are in safe keeping," Pettis said.

Republican Attorney General Pam Bondi is also pushing for increased law enforcement involvement in the process.

"I fail to see how the Florida Department of Law Enforcement can legitimately refuse to investigate where there is reasonable suspicion that may lead to the discovery of criminal actions in the conduct of the 2018 election," she wrote in a Sunday letter to the department, which has pointed to the Department of State's insistence that there is nothing to investigate.

Bondi also addressed the Department of State, asking the Republican-appointed secretary to dig deeper and, "when you find any indication creating a reasonable suspicion of potential criminal activity," report it to the law enforcement agency.

Sarah Revell, the communications director for the Department of State, replied to Bondi's letter by effectively repeating what the agency has been saying for days.

"Department staff continues to observe the administration of the election in Broward County," Revell said. "Our staff has not seen any evidence of criminal activity in Broward County at this time."

Nelson lawsuit

Nelson's campaign is also gearing up for a legal challenge that could, perhaps more than any recount, lead to a fundamental shakeup of the race. Their lawsuit, which alleges that state law requiring signatures on mail-in ballots match those on record is unconstitutional, will have a hearing in federal court on Wednesday.

"If we are successful, that will add thousands of additional ballots that have so far gone uncounted and we believe have gone uncounted in violation of the US Constitution's guarantee of the right to vote and should be counted," Marc Elias, Nelson's top recount lawyer, told reporters on Saturday night, adding: "We have sought a statewide remedy because we believe that all voters -- whether they voted for Sen. Nelson or for Gov. Scott -- should not be disenfranchised because an election worker doesn't believe that their signature in two different places are closely resembling."

More suits are likely as the week ramps up ahead of the Thursday, 3 p.m. ET, recount deadline.

The top election official in Palm Beach County has already said it will be "impossible" for volunteers there to finish in time, an expectation she shares with both Republicans and Democrats on the scene to monitor the counting.

Palm Beach County GOP Chairman Michael Barnett told CNN that the county's inability to meet the deadline would be "good news for Republicans because our candidates are ahead."

"If they're not able to meet the deadline, the secretary of state of Florida may go ahead and certify the elections for our candidates," Barnett said. "In that case, you can bet your butt there will be lawsuits filed everywhere."

Revel confirmed Barnett's prediction later Sunday, telling CNN that if a county does not submit new figures by Thursday afternoon, "then the results on file at that time take their place."

Florida governor's race

Sunday also marked a return to the spotlight for Democratic Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, who is trailing Republican former Rep. Ron DeSantis as the recount kicks into gear, but revoked his concession a day earlier and plans to aggressively pursue any possible avenue -- including new legal action -- if rumors of unduly uncounted ballots persist.

"I'm not here to ask for votes. I'm not here to campaign for votes. I'm not here to make a closing argument for what it means to become the next governor of the great state of Florida," Gillum told supporters in Fort Lauderdale late Sunday. "I'm simply here to say for the votes that have been cast, they ought to be counted. Every last single one of them."

Meanwhile, DeSantis has been very careful with his public posture in the wake of the recount. He has given only one statement, a taped video announcement directed to supporters, and has not held any events or press availabilities. Late Sunday, Scott's official schedule as governor was revised to include a note that he and DeSantis met. It was described officially as a "meeting with Gov-Elect DeSantis." and took place in Naples, where the two discussed the upcoming transition.

Tensions rising

The war of words has escalated alongside increasingly testy exchanges between demonstrators, mostly in Broward County, where Snipes has come under withering criticism by Republicans across the state.

In Broward, the recount process began at 7 a.m. Sunday with officials recalibrating the machines that count the votes and performing a series of logic and accuracy tests. After verifying that all of the machines worked and passed the tests, which took longer than planned, they began the process of separating the first page of the ballot, which contains the relevant races that need to be recounted.

Officials in Broward County now plan to work without a break until the recount is complete -- or the deadline hits.

Outside of Snipes' office in Broward, a rowdy circus convened for a third straight day. A large "Trump 2020" banner hung from a crane attached to a truck over the protest zone, and "Bikers for Trump" signs mixed in with demonstrators in the colors of the four ticket-topping candidates.

Later in the afternoon, pro-DeSantis and Trump protesters pounced and shouted "fake news, fake ballots" and "only count legal votes" when reporters with cameras began to prep for remarks by Democratic state Sen. Perry Thurston. He and Democratic attorney Mitchell Berger spoke briefly as the crowd heckled them.

Inside, the machines had only begun to separate out the first page of the ballots.

Huntsville
Few Clouds
79° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 54°
Feels Like: 79°
Florence
Clear
80° wxIcon
Hi: 79° Lo: 57°
Feels Like: 80°
Fayetteville
Clear
75° wxIcon
Hi: 79° Lo: 52°
Feels Like: 75°
Decatur
Clear
78° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 54°
Feels Like: 79°
Scottsboro
Clear
79° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 56°
Feels Like: 79°
WAAY Radar
WAAY WAAY-TV Cam
WAAY Temperatures

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 17359

Reported Deaths: 618
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Mobile2191115
Jefferson1780102
Montgomery163238
Tuscaloosa73814
Marshall6879
Franklin5457
Lee54033
Shelby50319
Tallapoosa42364
Butler40217
Chambers35325
Walker3442
Elmore3398
Madison3274
Baldwin2839
Dallas2603
Morgan2511
Etowah24811
DeKalb2433
Lowndes23812
Coffee2291
Sumter2206
Autauga2164
Houston2094
Bullock2034
Pike1980
Colbert1782
Russell1670
Marengo1636
Lauderdale1612
Hale1598
Calhoun1543
Choctaw1518
Barbour1501
Wilcox1447
Clarke1422
Cullman1260
Randolph1257
Marion12111
St. Clair1181
Pickens1114
Dale1100
Talladega1093
Chilton1001
Limestone940
Greene944
Winston880
Covington771
Jackson772
Crenshaw763
Macon754
Henry742
Bibb721
Washington686
Blount611
Escambia573
Lawrence480
Geneva400
Conecuh391
Coosa381
Monroe372
Perry370
Cherokee373
Clay272
Lamar230
Fayette150
Cleburne141
Unassigned00

Tennessee Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 22566

Reported Deaths: 364
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Davidson504062
Shelby4943111
Trousdale13924
Rutherford119623
Sumner88145
Hamilton79415
Bledsoe6071
Williamson55210
Putnam4795
Robertson4653
Tipton4423
Out of TN4184
Lake4140
Wilson4078
Knox3755
Bedford2834
Montgomery2693
Rhea2100
Hardeman1960
Madison1752
Loudon1430
McMinn14114
Macon1363
Cheatham1230
Bradley1221
Fayette1152
Cumberland1121
Dickson1090
Unassigned920
Blount913
Maury890
Sevier812
Washington750
Coffee730
Wayne640
Gibson631
Monroe622
Sullivan602
Hickman580
Lauderdale561
Franklin531
Greene502
Dyer500
Marion401
Anderson401
DeKalb370
Hamblen362
Smith341
White330
Hawkins332
Lawrence310
Grundy311
Haywood312
Marshall311
Obion301
Henry300
Jefferson280
Carroll271
Overton260
Meigs260
Weakley260
Lincoln250
Warren230
Cannon210
Perry210
Cocke200
Carter191
Campbell181
Morgan170
Jackson170
Crockett162
Roane160
Polk160
Johnson160
Henderson150
Hardin152
Sequatchie150
Humphreys131
Fentress120
McNairy120
Chester120
Giles120
Scott120
Stewart110
Claiborne90
Houston80
Grainger80
Clay70
Benton71
Decatur50
Unicoi40
Union40
Van Buren40
Lewis30
Pickett30
Moore30
Hancock10

 

 

Community Events