Bill Nelson Archives - Page 6 of 105 - Florida Politics

Marco Rubio says Broward County put election integrity on line

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio came to the aid of his fellow Republican Gov. Rick Scott Friday declaring that the vote-counting and transparancy problems at the Broward County Supervisor of Elections office is putting the integrity of Florida’s U.S. Senate election on the line.

Rubio insisted that his concerns were “not about an effort to prevent anyone from counting votes.”

He spent most of his remarks criticising Broward Supervisor of Elections Brenda Snipes for not being open about why her office is so late in reporting and counting votes that should have been tabulated on Tuesday, and for refusing to tell anyone why, or how many votes are at issue.

Still, Florida’s junior Senator, who stayed out of this year’s election between Scott and Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson until just the past week or so, said the pattern he’s seen of Snipes’ activities, the stories he’s heard about incidents this week, and her refusal to date to provide information leads him to believe that “the whole thing” concerns him. He didn’t explicitly say whether the whole thing includes questioning the validity of any votes in Snipes’ possession, but he did imply it.

“The issue here is why is it taking them so long to count the votes and where are they getting them from?” Rubio said.

Some of that information is expected to be revealed after 7 p.m. if Snipes meets a court order, brought through a lawsuit from Scott’s campaign, to disclose information.

“I’m concerned about everything, because when you don’t even know how many ballots are there, and they refuse to tell you how many ballots they have, or how many ballots need to be counted, or when they came, you have to be concerned about the whole thing,” Rubio said in a press conference organized by Scott’s campaign. “You have to be, given what we have seen in the past. So I’m concerned about the whole thing. Absolutely.”

Rubio was joined by attorney Tim Cerio of GrayRobinson, one of the lawyers working on the Scott campaign, who described incidents he saw of Snipes refusing to turn over ballots to the county’s canvassing board, of voters coming in to vouch for provisional ballots and being given false information, and of refusing to provide information.

Rubio said that after the election is concluded, Snipes should be considered for removal from office, “given the damage she’s done to public credibility to our elections.”

Cerio said Scott is not considering removing Snipes, “at this time.”

“This is a procedural reality,” Rubio said later. “At the end of the day the one thing our country uses to resolve policy disputes are elections. And if people start to doubt that elections are valid and credible, or that there are problems in the way they are processed and handled, then we’ve got big problems.

“This is more than the outcome of the race. This is about public confidence in our election process. Doubts are being driven not by political gamesmanship, but by reality,” Rubio added.

Recount ready: Courts side with Rick Scott on South Florida vote counts

Supervisors of elections in Broward and Palm Beach counties have been ordered to turn over records regarding the number of ballots cast in their respective areas following a pair of lawsuits by the Rick Scott for Senate campaign.

Brenda Snipes’ office in Broward has until 7 p.m. Friday evening to turn over those records.

The Scott campaign also released a statement regarding the order given to Palm Beach Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher.

“We are pleased that the Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections is being held accountable for this failure,” said Scott Campaign Manager Jackie Schutz Zeckman.

“Bill Nelson is trying to commit voter fraud in broad daylight and we won’t let them. We will continue to fight for full transparency and accountability, and to protect the will of Florida voters.”

It wasn’t clear what Zeckman is referring to when alleging Nelson is attempting to commit voter fraud, as the elections are handled by individual counties’ SoE offices. It’s also not clear the substance of the fraud being alleged.

Scott’s team sued Broward and Palm Beach counties after reported vote counts were in dispute.

Scott sought to clarify the exact number of votes cast in Broward County. Circuit Judge Carol-Lisa Phillips agreed with Scott’s arguments, mandating Snipes turn over those numbers to the Scott campaign.

In Palm Beach, Circuit Judge Krista Marx says Bucher must submit “overvoted” and “undervoted” absentee ballots for a public review prior to the votes being counted.

Scott is in the midst of an election that appears to be headed for a recount after he challenged Nelson for his U.S. Senate seat. The contest is one of several throughout the state which appear to be in recount range.

Bill Nelson accuses Rick Scott of abusing power to stop votes from being counted

Making his first appearance since the election – and doing so only by video-download, Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson accused his opponent Republican Gov. Rick Scott of abusing power to stop votes from being counted, and Nelson vowed to not let that happen.

In a video statement downloaded via satellite or through YouTube, Nelson charged that Scott is not telling the truth when he talks about votes being “found” and he said the governor was seeking to discredit the votes or prevent them from being counted.

“I won’t stand for anyone using his position to undermine our democratic process, and neither should the people of Florida,” Nelson said. “It’s wrong and it goes against every value that we have in our country.

“Scott is abusing the full force of his public office as governor to stop a complete and accurate counting of all the votes in Florida – which would determine whether he wins or loses,” Nelson said.

Usually one of the most accessible politicians in Florida, Nelson has not appeared publicly or spoken directly with the media since before the election.

In fact, he did not even make an appearance Tuesday at his own Election Day party, sending campaign staff members out to appear on his behalf, although that evening was a certain downer for him as it ended with news that he was down 60,000 votes, and some media were calling the election for Scott.

The margin in the race has since dropped to less than 15,000 votes, about 0.18 percent of the 8.17 million votes cast, meaning the election apparently is headed for a by-hand recount next week.

Key to that has been the counting of votes in Broward and Palm Beach counties, where several thousand votes were not tabulated on Tuesday and are being counted now.

In a press conference he held Thursday night at the Florida Governor’s Mansion, Scott alleged the votes were myseriously found, openly accusing the counties of coming up with them through partisan-fueled election fraud, and that they could be expected to find votes more until Nelson wins.

Scott’s campaign has filed suits against the supervisors of elections in both counties, seeking information about the late votes and court orders about how they should be handled. The campaign also asked the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to investigate criminal fraud. But that department, seeing no concrete allegations, has declined.

Still, Friday afternoon Scott won a preliminary decision in one of his lawsuits, which will require Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher to submit “overvoted” and “undervoted” absentee ballots to the Palm Beach County Canvassing Board for an open and public review of each vote before they are counted.

Nelson, through his campaign and his campaign’s attorney, Marc Elias, has contended that all of the votes were legally cast and so they should legally be counted, regardless of how it is done.

Elias has contended in two press conference calls that he believes the trends, through recounts, will end with Nelson ahead, and that he believes that Scott and his campaign suspect the same thing.

“This process is about one thing: making sure that every legal ballot is counted and protecting the right of every Floridian to participate in our democracy,” Nelson opens in the video. “No one should stand in the way of the people of our state exercising their right to vote and to have their voice heard.

“Clearly, Rick Scott is trying to stop all the votes from being counted and he’s impeding the democratic process. You can see this from his irresponsible, unethical and unprecedented press statement last night that he’s worried and he’s desperate,” he ontinues. “The reason why he feels that way is obvious: we believe when every legal ballot is counted we’ll win this election.”

Nelson’s video statement Friday is his first, other than written statements released by his campaign.

“The governor has decided to abandon the most fundamental of all rights, because he fears that he will lose the election if all the votes are counted. He isn’t telling the truth, which is: votes are not being found; they’re being counted,” he added.

No FDLE investigations into voter fraud, yet

Although Gov. Rick Scott said Thursday evening both in a news conference and on Fox News that he has asked the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to investigate voter fraud in Broward County, no such investigation is underway.

A spokesman for the department said Friday it is working with the Florida Department of State, standing by to investigate any allegations of voter fraud, but has not been advised of any such allegations yet.

The denial was first reported Friday afternoon by the Tampa Bay Times’ Steve Bousquet.

Scott’s assertions, that he was sicking the state’s police on elections supervisors overseeing his election’s vote counts, was seized upon by U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson‘s elections attorney and other Democrats as an apparent abuse of power.

Scott said Thursday evening  on the steps of the Florida Governor’s Mansion that he has asked the FDLE to investigate the Broward County and Palm Beach County supervisors of elections. He suggesting that, based on reports that both had found thousands of additional ballots since Tuesday night, the two South Florida counties are actively engaging in partisan-fueled election fraud.

He repeated the assertion on Sean Hannity‘s show on Fox News later Thursday night.

“I’ve asked the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to immediately do an investigation,” he told Hannity.

Nelson’s attorney Marc Elias responded Friday by declaring that it is “not appropriate for the Governor of any state to suggest that he is going to use the powers of the state as Governor to interject his law enforcement authority to prevent the counting of ballots that have been lawfully cast, especially in an election in which he stands.”

However, it’s not actually happening.

“This morning the FDLE communicated with the Department of State and they indicated at the time that they have no allegations of fraud,” FDLE spokesman Jeremy Burns said Friday afternoon. “We offered our assistance in the event that any criminal allegations are identified, and we will remain in contact with them.”

Will Bill Nelson win? His attorney says that’s what Rick Scott must think

“Don’t just listen to me, listen to Republican Gov. Rick Scott

That’s what Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson‘s attorney said Friday morning when asked why he appeared so confident Nelson would eventually win Florida’s contested U.S. Senate election if it goes to a recount.

“I do think that his, the tone and tenor of his behavior last night is not suggestive of any campaign that believes it is winning. So if you want to know why I think this race is tightening, look at the behavior of your Governor. He had a hastily called press conference. He himself said that as ballots are being counted it is tightening,” Marc Elias, lead recount attorney for Nelson’s campaign said during a telephone news conference Friday morning.

“And then he made some veiled threat or suggestion that he was going to somehow involve law enforcement. This is not a third-world dictatorship,” he added.

The latter comment was part of the back-and-forth between the Scott and Nelson campaigns as both now are seeking legal actions in the U.S. Senate election, and both counter-charged each other with doing so to thwart voters’ will.

Scott said he was getting law enforcement to investigate voting issues, and Elias said that was not appropriate in an election in which Scott stands, and that Nelson’s campaign would challenge such action in court. Elias said Nelson’s campaign was suing to stop signature comparisons by untrained poll workers, and Scott’s campaign charged that was an effort to count fraudulent ballots.

The legal efforts and counter-accusations come as the contest remains tight. The latest numbers from the Florida Division of Elections show the vote spread right around 15,000 votes, with Scott leading, out of 8.17 million votes. At that rate, a difference of 0.18 percent, the election would qualify for a hand recount next week.

In Nelson’s case, Elias announced the campaign was filing suit in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida to contest the Florida law and practice of letting non-experts in canvassing boards and Supervisors of Elections offices compare voter signatures on provisional and mail-in ballots to see if they match, to determine if the votes should be counted.

Elias said the practice leads to a “complete lack of uniformity” in how ballots are judged. He contended that studies show such practice is more likely to throw out valid signatures than to prevent fraudulent votes. The lawsuit seeks to end the practice, and cited four cases in which federal judges have stayed such practices.

Scott’s campaign countered with accusations that Nelson’s lawsuit is all about allowing for the counting of fraudulent votes.

“With today’s filing, their desperation has driven them to ask the federal courts to allow voter fraud,” Jackie Schutz Zeckman, Scott’s campaign manager, declared in a written statement issued before Elias’ press conference. “They are asking courts to overrule election officials and accept ballots that were not legally cast.”

Schutz Zeckman also alluded to the mystery of tens of thousands of ballots being discovered in Broward and Palm Beach counties after Election Day, a matter that is not addressed in Nelson’s federal lawsuit. She argued those ballots should not be counted.

“They aim to disenfranchise law-abiding Florida voters by producing ballots out of thin air until they have enough to win. We will not allow them to steal this election. Every vote that was legally and verifiably cast prior to the polls closing at 7 p.m. on Tuesday should, of course, be counted. Any votes that mysteriously showed up after that deadline are invalid,” she added.

Elias said those ballots were lawfully cast and must be counted on behalf of the voters who cast them. He charged Scott with acting inappropriately by asking the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to investigate.

“It is not appropriate for the Governor of any state to suggest that he is going to use the powers of the state as Governor to interject his law enforcement authority to prevent the counting of ballots that have been lawfully cast, especially in an election in which he stands,” Elias said.

“It is highly inappropriate and I can assure you we will take all the necessary steps in court to make sure that Sen. Nelson’s interests are protected if that were to come to pass.”

Gibson Dunn firm joining Rick Scott’s U.S. Senate election battle

Republicans have retained the California-based law firm of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, veterans of Florida’s Bush v. Gore presidential recount battle of 2000, to come to the legal aid of Gov. Rick Scott‘s U.S. Senate election effort, which appears to be heading toward a recount.

The law firm has been retained by the National Republican Senatorial Committee on Scott’s behalf, as his vote lead over Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson continues to tighten, with the election heading toward probable statewide recounts of ballots next week.

First up, the firm will be challenging the federal lawsuit Nelson’s attorneys filed Friday in U.S. District Court for Florida’s Northern District. Nelson is seeking to stay the practice of ballots being thrown out because poll workers — of unknown training, according to Nelson’s suit — conclude the signatures don’t match those on file.

“They are now attempting to commit voter fraud right out in public,” Rick Scott For Florida Campaign Manager Jackie Schutz Zeckman stated in a news release announcing the Gibson Dunn representation. “And our expert team of lawyers will be fighting this in court because Rick Scott is Florida’s next U.S. Senator.”

The U.S. Senate election vote tallies now have Scott leading by about 15,000 votes out of 8.17 million cast. That’s a difference of 0.18 percent of the vote, well below the 0.25 percent threshold that would mandate a hand recount under Florida law.

Specifically, Gibson Dunn partners Helgi Walker, out of the firm’s Washington, D.C., office; and Thomas Dupree Jr., co-partner-in-charge of the Washington office, will represent the Scott campaign.

Walker is co-chair of the firm’s Administrative Law and Regulatory Practice Group and a member of the Appellate and Constitutional Law Group. Dupree is a former U.S. deputy assistant attorney general in the administration of President George W. Bush, and is a member of the firm’s litigation department and its Appellate and Constitutional Law practice group.

Nelson is going with Marc Elias, head of political law practice at Perkins Cole in Washington. He is former general counsel to the Hillary Clinton campaign and a longtime elections lawyer.

Recount of one needed? Patrick Murphy says ballot wasn’t counted

Former U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy jumped into the fray surrounding multiple potential recounts in the state, saying he was informed his absentee ballot was not counted by Palm Beach County.

Murphy said on Twitter he was given a notice from the county that there was an “invalid signature match,” and that they were therefore unable to count his ballot.

“Should be +1 ,” Murphy wrote. “Must overhaul these ridiculous barriers to voting.” Florida Politics has reached out to the former congressman for further comment.

In speaking with Florida Politics, Murphy laid out how he discovered his vote would not be counted.

“I was more just out of curiosity looking at all these close elections and frustrated by the results,” Murphy said.

In the midst of researching the results, Murphy says he decided to go to the Palm Beach County website to ensure that his vote was registered.

“I’m looking at it. I’m like, ‘This can’t be real.’ Because all of a sudden it’s saying, ‘ballot received, invalid signature.’ It’s the same exact signature I used in the primary, same exact signature I’ve always used, same exact signature on my driver’s license. And, for whatever reason, it didn’t count this time.”

Murphy also says his ballot wasn’t registered as “received” until Election Day, which is after the deadline for verifying signatures in vote-by-mail ballots.

As the Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections notes on its website, “The deadline to rectify a vote by mail missing the voter’s signature is 5 p.m. on the day before an election.”

Murphy suggested moving that deadline until the Thursday following the election at 5 p.m. That would put it in line with the deadline to verify voters’ provisional ballots and would have given Murphy a chance to prove that his signature was valid.

The former congressman also argued that wider reforms to the election systems should be looked at, such as using blockchain technology, as well as moving Election Day to a weekend to increase the accessibility of voting.

Palm Beach and Broward counties have taken heavy heat in recent days for their delays in counting ballots.

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Rick Scott has even gone so far as to allege an outright conspiracy by those offices to “steal” the election. Scott leads incumbent U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson by a sliver in that race.

President Donald Trump even joined in on Scott’s explosive allegations, with other Florida politicians jumping in as well.

Three statewide contests appear to be within the range to trigger an automatic recount. Those are the U.S. Senate race, Florida Governor’s race, and the contest for state Agriculture Commissioner.

In addition, state legislative races in Senate District 18 and House District 26 and 89 also look to be headed for a recount.

By law, any race with a lead of 0.5 percent or less triggers a mandatory machine recount. After that, if the margin of victory is still within 0.25 percent, a manual recount must occur, but only of undervotes and overvotes.

Murphy said the closeness of these races should signal the importance of making your voice heard during election time.

“Every vote does matter,” Murphy said.

“As tough as it is when you’re working two jobs and have kids at home and are fighting traffic, everyone does matter. And hopefully this is another sign of that, that whenever the next election is, whether it’s a local, state, federal one, that people get out there to vote.”

Murphy, who swapped his party affiliation from Republican to Democrat in 2011, served in the U.S. House 2013-17. He challenged GOP U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio for his seat as a Democrat in 2016, ultimately losing that race.

More recently, Murphy floated a potential bipartsian gubernatorial bid with former GOP U.S. Rep. David Jolly. That ticket never came to fruition, and Jolly later announced he was leaving the Republican Party.

Rick Scott

Rick Scott on Sean Hannity show: ‘They’re going to find as many votes as it takes’

In a Fox News interview Thursday night, Gov. Rick Scott doubled-down on his claim that Broward and Palm Beach counties’ supervisors of elections are mysteriously finding votes in a conspiratorial effort to re-elect his opponent Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson.

“They found 78,000 new votes since Election Day, two days ago in Broward County, and 15,000 more votes in Palm Beach. We don’t know how many more votes they’re going to come up with. But it sure appears they’re going to find as many votes as it takes to try to win this election,” Scott told Sean Hannity during his show on Fox News Thursday night.

Scott repeated his contention, made last night on the steps of the Florida Governor’s Mansion, that he has asked the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to investigate the vote counting in his election for Florida’s U.S. Senate seat, and that he has filed suits against Broward County Supervisor of Elections Brenda Snipes and Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher, contending they are withholding crucial voter information and blocking access to their offices.

As of 9:30 a.m. Friday Scott held a 15,068 vote lead over Nelson. That’s a 0.18 percent difference, below the threshold to automatically trigger a hand recount of the 8.17 million ballots in the Senate race.

Nelson’s campaign attorney Marc Elias — whom Scott and Hannity denigrated as a political hack seeking to steal the election — called a 10:30 news conference to discuss what Nelson’s campaign described in an advisory as Scott’s “abuse of office and unethical actions last night aimed at interrupting and stopping Florida’s ongoing vote count.”

“We won. I’m going to be the U.S. Senator. I’m going to fight this all the way. We’re going to do everything we can. We’re going to look at every legal remedy we can exercise. We’re going to fight this and we’re going to win this,” Scott said on Hannity.

The latest: Governor’s race in machine recount; Senate’s, Ag Commissioner’s in hand recount

Overnight changes in the vote totals for Florida’s three contested statewide race show Republican Ron DeSantis‘ lead in the governor’s election slipping to 36,000 votes, Republican Rick Scott’s lead in the U.S. Senate election down to 15,000, and Democrat Nikki Fried moving out to an almost 3,000 vote lead for Agriculture Commissioner.

That calls for a machine recount of the governor’s election and hand recounts for the U.S. Senate and Agriculture Commissioner elections.

DeSantis’ lead over Democrat Andrew Gillum had slipped overnight to 36,211 votes ealy Friday morning. That’s 0.44 percent of the vote total, well below the 0.50 percent difference threshold, currently 41,048 votes,  triggering a mandatory machine recount of the governor’s election. The number is slipping teasingly toward the 0.25 percent difference threshold, currenlty 20,524 votes, that would trigger a hand recount.

Scott’s lead Friday morning had slipped to 15,074 votes over Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson. That’s 0.18 percent of the vote total, well under the 0.25 difference, currently at 20,436 votes, triggering a hand recount.

Fried’s lead over Republican Matt Caldwell had incrased to 2,915 votes overnight. That’s 0.04 percent of the vote total, also still well under the 0.25 difference, currently at 20,116 votes in that race, requiring a hand recount.

Rick Scott says ‘unethical liberals’ are trying to steal Florida’s U.S. Senate race

After two days of watching his U.S. Senate lead slowly wane, Gov. Rick Scott is suggesting two South Florida counties are actively engaging in partisan-fueled election fraud.

The Governor has asked the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to investigate Broward and Palm Beach counties’ Supervisor of Elections, calling them a “rag-tag group of liberal activists.”

“I will not sit idly by while unethical liberals try to steal this election from the great people of Florida,” Scott said during a Thursday evening news conference at the Governor’s Mansion.

Scott’s comments came as his campaign and the National Republican Senatorial Committee filed a lawsuit against Broward County Supervisor of Elections Brenda Snipes. The lawsuit, which seeks an immediate hearing, contends her office continues to withhold crucial voter information and has blocked access to the office.

The campaign also filed a separate lawsuit against Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher, accusing her of refusing to allow Scott’s representatives to personally witness the ballot counting. The suit, filed in Palm Beach County, also accuses Bucher of keeping the county canvassing board from performing its duties.

Scott noted that counsel hired by his opponent, Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, is an election lawyer with a history of working for the Democratic Party. He accused Nelson’s attorney of being willing to break laws to win the election.

Marc Elias, Nelson’s attorney, said Wednesday that the campaign is pursuing a recount “not just because it’s automatic, but we’re doing it to win.”

Nelson spokesman Dan McLaughlin said Thursday that Scott’s newly announced investigation and comments appear “to be politically motivated and borne out of desperation.”

“The goal here is to see that all the votes in Florida are counted and counted accurately,” he added.

Scott said every voter should be concerned of “rampant fraud” in Palm Beach and Broward counties.

Snipes has “a history of acting in bad faith,” Scott said. He listed a series of problems in years past with elections — all under Snipes’ tenure. Scott noted that earlier this year a judge found Snipes had engaged in unlawful ballot destruction during the 2016 Democratic primary.

“Every day since the election, the left-wing activists in Broward County have been coming up with more and more ballots out of nowhere,” Scott said.

Out of Florida’s 67 counties, only Broward and Palm Beach were “mysteriously” finding more ballots, he added.

Florida Politics reported an influx of ballots from Suwannee County were posted to the state Division of Elections website earlier Thursday.

Scott did not rule out “incompetence” as a causal factor of ballots adding up after Tuesday’s election. He said he is confident in FDLE’s ability to determine whether any intentional wrongdoing occurred.

“I am considering every single legal option available,” Scott added.

Overall, Scott’s criticism echoed tweets from U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio on Wednesday. The Florida Republican has already congratulated Scott on a victory.

“Florida law requires counties report early voting and vote-by-mail within 30 minutes after polls close,” Rubio wrote on Twitter. “Forty-three hours after polls closed two Democrat strongholds Broward County and Palm Beach County are still counting and refusing to disclose how many ballots they have left to count.”

“The people of Florida deserve fairness and transparency,” Scott said. “The supervisors are failing to give it to us.”

Currently, Scott leads Nelson by just more than 15,000 votes, or 0.17 percent. A hand recount in Florida is triggered when the difference reaches one-quarter of 1 percent of the vote, or about 20,413 ballots in this contest.

If the contest’s spread remains below that level, the hand recount would be announced on Saturday by Secretary of State Ken Detzner, and hand recounting would start on Monday and run through Nov. 18.

There still are more ballots to be counted, including provisional ballots and other ballots that were set aside because of anomalies on Tuesday. They are now being counted by the election canvassing boards in each of Florida’s 67 counties.

President Donald Trump, who supported Scott during the election, weighed in late Thursday.

Florida Politics Orlando correspondent Scott Powers and the News Service of Florida contributed reporting. 

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