As the vote count continues to narrow Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s lead in the state’s closely watched Senate race, he’s railing that it’s a left-wing conspiracy to “steal” his election — and he’s suing election officials. “I will not stand idly by while unethical liberals try to steal an election,” the Republican governor said in a news conference Thursday night. He’s got a razor-thin edge over incumbent Democrat Bill Nelson, but mail-in and provisional ballots are still rolling in, and a recount seems likely.
Scott is accusing election officials in Broward and Palm Beach counties — both left-leaning areas — of “rampant fraud” and said he’s asking the state’s department of law enforcement to “investigate this immediately.” Scott has not yet presented evidence of voter fraud, which is very rare. But President Trump still chimed in at a press gaggle outside the White House Friday morning, fueling the voter-fraud conspiracy theory.
"Election officials are literally just counting the ballots. This isn't corruption or fraud," David Becker, the executive director and founder of the Center for Election Innovation and Research, wrote on Twitter. "It is literally the best of democracy. Let election officials do their job and count the ballots."
All votes are expected to be submitted to the state by Saturday, but existing ballots have already narrowed Scott’s small lead from Tuesday’s election. Scott currently leads by about 15,000 votes out of 8.2 million ballots cast, a slim enough margin that it will likely trigger an automatic machine recount, as is required of races within 0.5 percent margin, according to CBS Miami. If the candidates are within one-quarter of one percentage point after that machine recount, the state will order a manual recount by hand.
“Law Enforcement is looking into another big corruption scandal having to do with Election Fraud in #Broward and Palm Beach. Florida voted for Rick Scott!” President Donald Trump wrote on Twitter Thursday.
However, it’s true that Broward’s election office has been plagued by mismanagement and missed or destroyed ballots in the past, according to the Washington Post. Both Scott and the National Republicans Senatorial Committee filed a lawsuit Thursday against Brenda Snipes, the Broward County supervisor of elections, and Susan Bucher, who holds the same title in Palm Beach, alleging that the officials violated federal and state laws when supervising Tuesday’s election results.
Republican Sen. Marco Rubio also claimed on Twitter that Democrats were aiming to manipulate the results, rather than just count ballots.
“The goal here is to see that all the votes in Florida are counted and counted accurately. Rick Scott’s action appears to be politically motivated and borne out of desperation,” Nelson wrote on Twitter Thursday.
The state’s gubernatorial race between Democrat and Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum and Republican Rep. Ron DeSantis could also result in a recount, with DeSantis narrowly clinching the path to the governor’s mansion Tuesday. Gillum has already conceded.
Cover: Florida Gov. Rick Scott, who is running for the U.S. Senate, is seen after a rally at Skyline Attractions in Orlando on November 2, 2018. Skyline Attractions is an amusement park ride manufacturer. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., also attended. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call) (CQ Roll Call via AP Images)