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Republican pressure mounts for state police involvement in South Florida recounts

 

Florida’s highest-ranking government officials are increasing the pressure on state police to get involved in the counting of ballots in heavily Democratic South Florida as Gov. Rick Scott clings to a lead over Bill Nelson during a statewide recount of their nationally relevant U.S. Senate contest.

Attorneys for Scott’s campaign filed emergency motions Sunday requesting that embattled elections supervisors in Palm Beach and Broward 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 motions come days after Scott claimed that “unethical liberals” in the two counties were trying to steal his election after late-developing returns narrowed his margins over Nelson and forced him into an ongoing statewide recount.

Also on Sunday, Attorney General Pam Bondi told FDLE Commissioner Rick Swearingen in a letter that she was “deeply troubled” by his agency’s decision to decline Scott’s press conference request to investigate elections fraud in the two counties and urged him to reconsider.

Scott has presented no evidence to back up his fraud allegations, and the Department of State has said its elections monitors have uncovered no criminal behavior. But amid a high-stakes battle over each of the 8.3 million votes cast in Tuesday’s midterms, Scott’s campaign is continuing to lean hard on the elections process in a densely populated area of the state that could make or break his 12,562-vote lead.

“As long as the Supervisor of Elections has unsupervised, unaccountable, and unfettered access to the ballot boxes, she will be able to destroy evidence of any errors, accidents, or unlawful conduct — making it nearly impossible for an aggrieved party to prosecute their claims or discover later what has actually occurred in the electoral process,” attorney Jason Zimmerman wrote in the complaint filed against Broward Supervisor or Elections Brenda Snipes.

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