With visions of hanging chad dancing in their heads, Democratic Party lawyers are arriving in two Democratic-controlled counties “to steal the election,” charges Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida.
In a series of tweets Thursday, Rubio charged that in Broward and Palm Beach Counties, election officials are continuing to count ballots, reporting tens of thousands of additional vote for Democratic candidates, including incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson and gubernatorial candidate Rep. Andrew Gillum.
Rubio noted that Florida law requires counties to report early voting and vote-by-mail within 30 minutes of the polls closing.
But 43 hours after polls closed Broward and Palm Beach are still counting, he tweeted, and “refusing to disclose how many ballots they have left to count.”
Broward and Palm Beach Counties and the notorious “hanging chad” were focal points of the 2000 presidential election between George W. Bush and Al Gore that was decided by the Florida vote, which Bush won by 537 votes out of nearly 6 million cast.
Rubio said the latest ballot dump from Broward County flipped the agriculture commissioner race to the Democrat and cut former Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s lead in the Senate race from 54,000 to 17,000 votes “and we still don’t know how many ballots they have left to count!”
Florida’s secretary of state, Ken Detzner, told county election supervisors Thursday to plan for as many as three statewide recounts, the Miami Herald reported.
He also advised the supervisors to brace for extraordinary national media scrutiny.
“The recounts will be nationally watched … [we’re] under a microscope,” Detzner said on a conference call with counties, according to the Herald.
The paper said statewide races for U.S. Senate and agriculture commissioner are within the machine recount window of half of 1 percent.
In the governor’s race on Thursday morning, Republican Ron DeSantis held a 0.52 percent lead over Gillum, slightly outside the threshold of 0.5. But by Thursday afternoon, the Tallahassee Democrat reported, DeSantis was up by only 0.47 percent.
Florida’s secretary of state has yet to announce a recount.
Gillum, who conceded Tuesday night, said Thursday in a statement “it has become clear there are many more outstanding ballots left to count.”
He insisted “every voice must be heard in this race.”
‘Chipping away at GOP leads
Rubio argued that Bay County, Florida, was hit by a Category 4 hurricane just four weeks ago yet managed to submit timely results.
The senator pointed out the Broward County elections supervisor, Brenda Snipes, says she doesn’t know how many ballots are left to be counted.
Her office, rather than giving hourly updates, is “releasing thousands of additional votes, often in the overnight hours, that are chipping away at GOP leads,” Rubio said.
He said Broward County election officials “have a history of violating the law.”
“A US Senate seat and statewide cabinet officer are now potentially in the hands of an elections supervisor with a history of incompetence and blatant violations of state and federal laws,” Rubio tweeted.
Elections supervisor confronted
WPLG-TV in Miami reported Snipes had a “testy exchange” with one of the station’s reporters Thursday as the elections supervisor was asked about the status of the recount.
“Could I please get a moment to go into the room and find out?” Snipes asked the group huddled around her. “OK, when I come back I’ll let you know.”
“But, Dr. Snipes, it is now Thursday,” said WPLG investigative reporter Jeff Weinsier. “We are still counting ballots in Broward County.”
“We’re counting five pages or six pages for each of the people who voted,” Snipes said.
“But other counties have been able to do it,” Weinsier said.
“But other counties didn’t have 600,000 votes out there,” Snipes retorted
“Well, Miami-Dade did,” Weinsier said.
WPLG noted that in the November 2016 general election, a small number of ballots were mailed to voters without the state’s medical marijuana referendum. During the primary election that year, early results were posted about 30 minutes before polls closed, violating state law.
And a circuit court judge ruled earlier this year that Snipes broke federal and state law by too quickly destroying ballots from the August 2016 primaries amid a lawsuit seeking access to the ballots.
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) November 8, 2018