What the hell is going on in the Sunshine State? The U.S. Senate race has become engulfed in controversy as suspicions are rising concerning why two of the most liberal counties in the state have yet to count all of their ballots. Republican Gov. Rick Scott has already claimed victory over incumbent Democrat Bill Nelson. Then, Broward and Palm Beach County decided to engage in some sketchy vote tabulation methods.
#Florida law requires counties report early voting & vote-by-mail within 30 minutes after polls close. 43 hours after polls closed 2 Democrat strongholds #BrowardCounty & #PalmBeachCounty are still counting & refusing to disclose how many ballots they have left to count. #Sayfie pic.twitter.com/ReXCaOzkZP— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) November 8, 2018
Counties that were hammered by Hurricane Michael have finished tallying their votes. Broward and Palm Beach are Democratic bastions that also happen to be the problem children in Florida elections. What’s taking so long? How man more ballots do they have to go? Why aren’t they giving regular updates on the vote tallies? These are questions Republicans would like to know, and something these counties should be posting on a regular basis. It’s the law.
Broward has a ballot counting operation that was operating outside of state law; a judge ruled yesterday afternoon that this process violated public records laws. By 7 P.M. yesterday, they were supposed to comply with all public records requests. That didn’t happen. Then, Brenda Snipes and Susan Bucher, the elections supervisors for Broward and Palm Beach counties respectively, decided they were just going to ignore the court order:
A judge ruled today that Broward County Elections Supervisor Brenda Snipes broke the law and ordered her give Rick Scott's campaign an accounting of total ballots cast and a breakdown of votes by category by 7 p.m. today.— Ryan Saavedra (@RealSaavedra) November 10, 2018
She’s refusing to do it. pic.twitter.com/D2NKwDY9LZ
???? BREAKING: Palm Beach County refuses to comply with court order.— Chris Hartline (@ChrisHartline) November 10, 2018
Statement here: pic.twitter.com/jPU47KJ25j
Why can’t Supervisor of Election in Broward explain why on the night of the election she reported 634,000 ballots were cast in the General election and today she is reporting that over 717,000 ballots were cast? 83,000 more ballots? It’s things like this that make people cynical— Carlos Lopez-Cantera (@LopezCantera) November 10, 2018
Ms. Snipes has a history of being terrible at her job. Bucher and her office are been accused of barring Scott party representatives from seeing how they draft a replacement ballot. In Florida, if a ballot is too damaged to be read by the machines, the election official can cast one replacement ballot, where these folks vote on your behalf with a newly created ballot. Witnesses need to be present. That was not the case in Palm Beach. It’s in the documents filed by Scott’s campaign for their lawsuit against the counties.
Scott has vowed not to allow liberal lawyers come into the state and steal election results.
UPDATE: Wait—Bucher threatened reporters at the public canvassing board meeting, prompting NBC to also file a lawsuit on First Amendment grounds. Bucher had briefly shut down camera and photography (via Palm Beach Post):
Breaking from normal practice, the Palm Beach County elections supervisor banned media from filming and photographing the high-profile midterm election ballot review process amid allegations of “incompetence” by Gov. Rick Scott.
The camera ban prompted an attorney for NBC Universal to interrupt the Palm Beach County Canvassing Board and object to the meeting, calling it “illegal.”
Tensions flared Friday morning when Bucher threatened to have camera operators and newspaper reporters arrested for filming ballot tabulation as Palm Beach County. The meeting at least half a dozen television cameras and even more reporters as Palm Beach County is one of the last in Florida to report unofficial results in an election with three tight statewide races. Bucher accused several reporters of illegally taking pictures and videos of signatures on the envelopes of mail ballots.
Reporters repeatedly assured Bucher that they were filming the board members from a safe distance as they examined ballots and decided whether to toss or count them. Signatures were not visible in any Palm Beach Post photos.
Still, Bucher insisted that she’d bring officers to forcibly remove any member of the media who filmed the process.
NBCUniversal, Scripps Media and Fox Television are suing Susan Bucher and the Palm Beach County Canvassing Board for refusing to allow us to record video while they review ballots in a public meeting @nbc6 #EmergencyPetition pic.twitter.com/wPCcNapaTv— Marissa Bagg (@MarissaNBC6) November 9, 2018
#BREAKING Judge agrees with @NBCNews, @nbc6 and other media outlets— cameras are now allowed to record inside room where provisional ballots are being reviewed by canvassing board in Palm Beach County #Transparency pic.twitter.com/evGNQHVuKX— Marissa Bagg (@MarissaNBC6) November 10, 2018