A Florida judge rejected Republican Florida Gov. Rick Scott's baseless allegation of voter fraud in key Democratic-leaning counties as his Senate race enters a recount, CNN reports.
Scott narrowly leads incumbent Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson by about 12,500 votes out of 8 million. His lead has continued to shrink as votes continue to be counted in Broward and Palm Beach Counties.
Scott filed a lawsuit accusing Broward of voter fraud and demanded both counties turn over custody of their vote-tabulation machines and ballots to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and sheriff’s deputies during times when votes aren’t being counted.”
The judge ruled that there was no evidence of fraud and rejected his demand, although both sides agreed to allow additional election monitors supervise the count.
Judge urges both sides to “ramp down the rhetoric”:
"I am urging, because of the highly public nature of this case, to ramp down the rhetoric. If someone in this lawsuit or someone in this county has evidence of voter fraud or irregularities, they should report it to local law enforcement," said Broward County Chief Judge Jack Tuter. "Everything lawyers are saying out there is being beamed out all over the country."
Democrats demand Scott recuse himself:
Nelson called on Scott, who is still the governor, to recuse himself from the recount. Nelson said in a statement that Scott "should remove himself from any role in the recount process so the people can have confidence in the integrity of the election."
Two voting rights groups sued to force Scott to recuse himself.
A lawsuit by the League of Women Voters, Common Cause Florida and voter Joanne Lynch Aye accused Scott "substantial conflict of interest” and asked the court to stop him from "engaging, in his capacity as Governor or using his authority as Governor, in any decisions, directives, control, or influence, either direct or indirect, over the processing and counting of ballots in the 2018 Florida election for U.S. Senate."
Nelson sues over mail-in ballots:
Nelson filed a lawsuit arguing that state law requiring that signatures on mail-in ballots must match those on government records is unconstitutional.
"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. "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."