Florida Recounts Votes In Races For U.S. Senate And Governor

Nov 12, 2018
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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

The state of Florida is recounting more than 8 million votes in three tight races. One of them is the Senate contest. Governor Rick Scott, the Republican senatorial candidate, is holding on to a lead of fewer than 13,000 votes over the Democrat incumbent Bill Nelson. As the recount gets underway, Scott has filed lawsuits against county election officials and has accused his rival of cheating. Here he is speaking on "Fox Sunday."

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "FOX NEWS SUNDAY")

RICK SCOTT: Senator Nelson is clearly trying to find - to try and to commit fraud to try to win this election. That's all this is.

MARTIN: Nelson, for his part, has also filed suit demanding that ballots with signature issues get re-examined. Here's a clip from a video Nelson released.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

BILL NELSON: Clearly Rick Scott is trying to stop all the votes from being counted, and he's impeding the democratic process.

MARTIN: NPR's Miles Parks is in Tallahassee, Fla., covering all this. Miles, what is happening right now (laughter)?

MILES PARKS, BYLINE: Well, what we're seeing, Rachel, is basically these lawsuits on both sides kind of reflecting the different narratives that both sides are trying to push. As you mentioned, the Nelson lawsuits pushing for these signatures on provisional ballots and absentee ballots - these ballots to count even though the signatures don't necessarily match exactly. They're also going to be pushing, probably, to push this deadline back on Thursday for this recount to be done because they want all the votes to be counted. Whereas the - on the Republican side, you have Governor Rick Scott who's really pushing this voter fraud narrative without any evidence. But he's asking - in one of his lawsuits he filed over the weekend, he's asking law enforcement to actually impound voting machines from some of the supervisors of elections when they're not in use.

MARTIN: Wow. And the two counties at the center of all this, Broward and Palm Beach, how come? What is the problem there?

PARKS: Well, there's two things really here. One is the fact that these are highly populated counties, and they're Democratic strongholds. So both sides - both Democrats and Republicans recognize how important these counties are, which is one of the reasons they're in the spotlight. The other reason is the fact that election in ministration there has just not been very good. There has been a lot of issues over the past few years, specifically in Broward. Supervisor of elections Brenda Snipes has come under a lot of criticism even just this year. We've just found out over the last couple days that she had a couple provisional ballots - I think it was close to 20 provisional ballots - mixed in, that should not have been counted, that were mixed in with a bunch of good ballots. She was unable to find those. And they're going to end up being part of the count. Her justification is that she doesn't want to nix a batch of 200 votes just because she mixed up these 20, but it doesn't look good.

MARTIN: And also the governor's race. I mean, Andrew Gillum, the Democrat who conceded last week, has taken that back.

PARKS: He has, indeed. And he's really come to Nelson's aid in terms of calling for all the votes to be counted. The odds of Gillum's race getting overturned are much smaller than they are in the Nelson-Scott race. But still, he spoke at a church yesterday. And he said, we are not talking about new votes; we're not talking about miracle votes; we're not talking about votes out of thin air; we are talking about the people - basically asking for representation.

MARTIN: And you slipped this in earlier in our conversation. The deadline is Thursday. They have to get 8.2 million ballots counted by Thursday. Is that even going to happen?

PARKS: It is looking increasingly unlikely at this point. The supervisor of elections in Palm Beach County specifically used the word impossible for getting all these votes counted. We're talking about hundreds of thousands of votes. That's millions and millions of pages. We're talking about getting them sorted...

MARTIN: Right.

PARKS: ...Getting them counted. In Broward County specifically, 700,000 votes, 10 voting machines.

MARTIN: All right. NPR's Miles Parks for us this morning. Thanks, Miles. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.