Angry judge calls Florida ‘laughingstock of the world’

by WorldTribune Staff, November 16, 2018

After the machine recount in Florida, Republican Gov. Rick Scott increased his lead over incumbent Democrat Sen. Bill Nelson; trailing gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum added just 1 vote to his tally in his contest against Republican Ron DeSantis; Palm Beach County couldn’t meet the recount deadline; and Broward County “missed” the deadline by 2 minutes.

“We have been the laughingstock of the world, election after election, and we chose not to fix this,” U.S. District Court Judge Mark Walker said in court on Nov. 15.

Canvassing Board chair Betsy Benson, left, and board member Deborah Carpenter-Toye view a damaged ballot at the Broward County Supervisor of Elections office on Nov. 14. / AP

Walker slammed state lawmakers and Palm Beach County officials, saying they should have made sure they had enough equipment in place to handle the recount. Palm Beach County blamed faulty equipment for its failure to meet the recount deadline.

Walker also said he was not happy about the idea of extending recount deadlines without limit.

Even though Scott expanded his lead over Nelson, the Senate race is headed to a manual recount, results of which are due to the state by noon on Nov. 18. Certification of the official election results is scheduled for 9 a.m. on Nov. 20.

After the machine recount, Scott’s lead increased by 41 votes, to 12,603 overall. The margin of 0.15 percent, however, was enough for a manual recount to be called for.

“Our state needs to move forward,” Scott said. “We need to put this election behind us, and it is time for Bill Nelson to respect the will of the voters and graciously bring this process to an end rather than proceed with yet another count of the votes – which will yield the same result, and bring more embarrassment to the state that we both love and have served.”

In the governor’s race, the recount showed that Democrat Gillum trailed Republican DeSantis by 33,683 votes, a net gain of 1 vote for Gillum from the unofficial results reported last week.

Gillum still would not concede and called for counting to continue.

“A vote denied is justice denied – the State of Florida must count every legally cast vote,” Gillum said. “As today’s unofficial reports and recent court proceedings make clear, there are tens of thousands of votes that have yet to be counted. We plan to do all we can to ensure that every voice is heard in this process.”

In Broward County, Scott and DeSantis would have increased their leads if the county had not narrowly missed the 3 p.m. deadline to submit machine recount results.

The recount would have increased DeSantis’s lead over Gillum by 755 votes, while Scott’s lead would have increased by 779 votes.

“We uploaded to the state two minutes late so the state has chosen not to use our machine recount results and they are going to use the first unofficial results as our second unofficial results,” said elections worker Joe D’Alessandro.

A local reporter for The New York Times confirmed that the county “finished on time,” but the election workers claimed they submitted late because of “unfamiliarity with the state website.”

Conservative critics alleged that Broward election officials may have purposely submitted the results too late to keep the official count narrower, in favor of the Democratic candidates.

Phil Kerpen, president of the conservative 501 organization American Commitment, tweeted: “Media should not be uncritically amplifying this fairy tale that BROWARD – which had results 15 minutes before the deadline – just totally accidentally submitted two minutes late and whoops too bad 779 net votes for Rick Scott were lost.”

Kerpen added: “Imagine the media coverage if a Republican county claimed to just accidentally fail to submit a recount with a vote bump for a Democrat.”

Broward County Elections Supervisor Brenda Snipes had assured reporters on Nov. 13 that Broward would not miss the deadline. “We will complete the recount,” she vowed. “There has never been a deadline we have missed.”

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