Amid recounts in Florida’s elections, three candidates have filed lawsuits regarding ballots, but only Gov. Rick Scott won in court.
U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, the incumbent Democrat who campaigned against Scott, filed suit Thursday against Florida’s secretary of state, Ken Detzner, asking for the certification of the election deadline to be extended until ballots with mismatched signatures are counted properly.
Marc Elias, Nelson’s lawyer, said local election workers he described as “untrained and unqualified” were disqualifying valid ballots because of the way they were comparing signatures.
Friday night Judge Robert Hinkle ruled against Nelson, keeping the deadline as Nov. 10 at noon.
Scott, the Republican candidate whose lead over Nelson was fewer than 15,000 votes Friday, sued both Broward County and Palm Beach County division of elections supervisors, Brenda Snipes and Susan Bucher, on Thursday. Scott said they failed to be transparent.
“Every Floridian should be concerned there may be rampant fraud happening in both Palm Beach and Broward counties,” he said.
His lawsuit against Snipe in Broward County was based on asking for information about the ballot-counting process under Florida’s public records law. A judge on Friday ordered Broward’s Division of Elections to give him access to tabulations by 7 p.m.
“It’s just wherever you are at 7 ‘o’clock today, you need to honor the request to turn over those records,” said Frank LoMonte, director of the Brechner Center for Freedom of Information.
Snipe provided tabulations by 7 p.m. Friday, however Scott’s campaign sent out a press release later that night saying that Snipe didn’t fully comply with the request.
“The Scott for Florida team is officially calling on Supervisor Snipes to formally confirm that she has now reported every last ballot in Broward County,” the release said.
The Republican candidate to become Florida’s commissioner of agriculture, Matt Caldwell, also filed a complaint against Snipes, asking the court to ensure that any absentee ballots received after election night at 7 p.m. be considered void. Calwell was behind by roughly 3,120 votes late Friday.
Broward County Judge Robert Lee, who has written on the history of Florida elections, said that in the past, quick rulings were often necessary because once ballots were removed from their envelopes, no one knows which ballot came from which envelope.
Scott’s lawsuit against Palm Beach’s Bucher argued that she herself has been determining voter intent on some of the ballots, instead of the canvassing board. In addition, he said she was unsupervised when processing absentee ballots. He asked for an injunction until the canvassing board can review those ballots.
“That would take a little longer to sort that one out,” LoMonte said. “That’s one that looks like it’s going to require some evidence by the court.”
LoMonte compared it to the Bush v. Gore case where the disagreement was over what was or was not a countable ballot.
Friday evening, Judge Krista Marx ruled in favor of Scott and issued an injunction ordering Butcher to submit “overvoted” and “undervoted” ballots in question to the canvassing board for review.
Later that night, WPBF 25 News reported that Butcher asked for an “emergency reconsideration hearing,” saying it would be impossible to meet the deadline.
11:30 p.m.: This article was updated with lawsuit rulings.