Gov. Rick Scott lashed out Thursday night at elections supervisors in Broward and Palm Beach counties as “incompetent” and part of an effort to “thwart the will of the people,” as the margin of his apparent U.S. Senate victory has narrowed and likely will require a recount.
A hearing has been set for Friday at 10:30 a.m. before Judge Krista Marx.
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, expressing concern about “rampant fraud” in the two counties, also directed the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to investigate the election offices. Broward and Palm Beach counties are Democratic strongholds, and Snipes and Bucher are Democrats.
“I am considering every single legal option available,” Scott said while appearing before the media outside the governor’s mansion in an event held by his campaign. “No rag-tag group of liberal activists or lawyers from D.C. will be allowed to steal this election from the voters of this great state.”
Scott didn’t take questions from the media after accusing “unethical liberals of trying to steal this election from the people of Florida.”
Dan McLaughlin, a spokesman for Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, said Scott’s actions are apparently “politically motivated and borne out of desperation.”
“The goal here is to see that all the votes in Florida are counted and counted accurately,” McLaughlin said in a statement.
In the lawsuit, the Scott campaign and the National Republican Senatorial Committee contend the Broward elections office has been unwilling to disclose records revealing how many people have voted, how many ballots have been canvassed and how many remain to be canvassed.
“The lack of transparency raises substantial concerns about the validity of the election process,” said the lawsuit filed in Broward County.
In his comments to the media, Scott accused Snipes of a history of “bad faith” and Bucher, a former state House member, of refusing to provide “information to the public” and requiring official party representatives to stand behind a glass wall in the ballot counting area.
Earlier in the day, Nelson’s recount lawyer predicted that the Democratic incumbent would emerge the victor over Scott as ballots continued to be examined, particularly in Palm Beach and Broward counties. A recount is expected to come into play this weekend.
Nelson attorney Marc Elias, who has been involved in a number of recounts across the country, pointed to an ongoing count of provisional ballots and ballots that may not have been properly scanned.
The tabulation of those votes will continue to narrow Scott’s razor-thin lead over Nelson, Elias predicted. Scott’s election night 56,000-vote margin over Nelson shrank to just over 15,000 votes --- within the margin that triggers an automatic recount --- by Thursday night.