FL Judge Sides With Nelson Campaign, Extends a Ballot Deadline

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Posted: Nov 15, 2018 11:48 AM
FL Judge Sides With Nelson Campaign, Extends a Ballot Deadline

U.S. District Chief Judge Mark Walker has granted a preliminary injunction to allow voters with mismatched ballots to fix the issue by 5 p.m. Saturday. It is a win for Sen. Bill Nelson's (D) campaign.

“The precise issue in this case is whether Florida’s law that allows county election officials to reject vote-by-mail and provisional ballots for mismatched signatures — with no standards, an illusory process to cure, and no process to challenge the rejection — passes constitutional muster," Walker said in his ruling. "The answer is simple. It does not.”

The county canvassing boards who make sure the signatures on their vote-by-mail or provisional ballots match state records, are "staffed by laypersons that are not required to undergo formal handwriting-analysis education or training," Walker reasoned. He concluded that voters who were found to have mismatched signatures need more time to correct the problem.

Nelson has also sued to extend the deadline for Florida counties to finish their machine recounts, which still stands at 3 p.m. Thursday. Republican Gov. Rick Scott is currently leading Nelson, and Republican Ron DeSantis is currently ahead in the race against Democrat Andrew Gillum in the gubernatorial election. 

Nelson can pursue as many lawsuits as he wants, but it may still not be enough to overcome the deficit against Gov. Scott, who is ahead by almost 13,000 votes.

“A royal flush is right on the money. Nelson would have to have a perfect hand,” said Michael Morley, a Florida State University election law professor, echoing two other experts who spoke to POLITICO.

“He would have to win in every case. And even then, it would not seem to be enough to change the outcome,” Morley said. “One study that I’ve seen shows that in the 21st Century, there have only been three statewide races that have had their results changed as a result of a recount. And in each of those races, the margins were in the hundreds, not more than 12,000.” (Politico)

Meanwhile, Democrats are accused of altering ballots, particularly in Broward and Palm Beach Counties, which Gov. Scott's team likes to refer to as "problem counties."