Florida's razor-clad Senate race broke out on Friday into a veritable guerilla war as Democrats pressed for a recount and Republicans – including President Trump – accused the local election officials of overturning the outcome against them.
Trump and his allies provided no evidence that fraud was blamed for a dwindling GOP lead in heavily democrat Broward County, South Florida, where the unfinished absentee ballot and provisional vote reduced Republican Rick Scott to less than half has one percentage point.
The margin is expected to trigger a recount of ballots that could begin on Saturday in districts across the state. It has also led to vociferous Republican protests – a dramatic change in rhetoric since Tuesday, when Trump declared "incredible" victories across the country and, despite mixed results, stayed away from allegations of a "manipulated" election.
These accusations surfaced Friday in both Florida and Arizona, where another tight Senate race is on a slow electoral roll.
"Rick Scott had gone up more than 50,000 votes on election day, now they've" found "many votes and he's only gained 15,000 votes," says Trump twittered Friday over the Florida Senate race. "The Broward Effect." Why do you never find republican voices? "
In a separate tweet, Trump claimed "electoral corruption" in the Arizona Senate race, where Democrat Kyrsten Sinema has had a slim lead over Republican Martha McSally since Tuesday.
In Florida, the current appointment has produced votes for both Scott and his Democratic opponent Senator Bill Nelson – but more for Nelson. This did not prevent other Republicans, including Donald Trump Jr. and Senator Marco Rubio (Florida), from making fraud allegations.
On the ground in Broward County, demonstrators went to the sidewalks in front of the Lauderhill Electoral Offices to demand the release of Brenda Snipes, the Election Commissioner, who faced a series of allegations of mismanagement over the past decade. The scene recalled the street fighting in the partisans that accompanied the controversial report of the President of 2000. For three hours, about 200 people called and waved signs.
"Every vote counts!" Roared the Democrats.
"Twice!" Responded the Republicans mockingly. The almost constant vocals mentioned Trump more than Scott, but mostly they focused on Snipes. "Shut them down!" The protesters repeated hundreds of times and repeated the call of Trump's campaign against Democrat Hillary Clinton.
Scott, Florida's governor, appeared on Thursday in the governorate governor's office and demanded an investigation by state law enforcement agencies. He called for investigations by US law enforcement agencies and demanded that Nelson criticize him for taking out the power of his office to secure his Senate's victory.
"The governor has decided to give up the most basic of all rights because he fears he will lose the election if all votes are counted," Nelson said in a video released Friday. ". , , Voices are not found. They are counted. "
On Friday afternoon, according to Nelson Associates, Scott had a lead of just over 16,000 votes (0.19 percent). Tallahassee mayor Andrew Gillum (D) left former Congressman Ron DeSantis (R) with more than 36,000 votes, or 0.45 percent, to the former governor.
Under Florida law, a nationwide recount of machines is made when the profit margin is less than 0.5 percent, and a manual recount is ordered if the profit margin is less than 0.25 percent.
A lawyer for Nelson, Marc Elias, said on Friday in a call with reporters that the acquisition in Broward and elsewhere in Florida was a "not no fault" feature of our democratic system to ensure that all valid votes were counted. He accused the Republicans of falsely claiming voter fraud simply because the margin has changed.
"The lead is now just over 15,000 votes, which seems to have prompted the governor to hold a spontaneous press conference to acknowledge the shrinking state of the margin," Elias said.
Both campaigns went to court, with Scott making two quick wins on Friday, when a judge gave Palm Beach officials permission to open to the public, and another judge released the Broward officials' documents requested by the governor.
Nelson's complaint seeks to review absence and provisional votes if the signatures on the votes do not match voter registration lists. In Georgia last month, a federal judge ordered local election officials not to throw ballots over signatures.
The Scott campaign struck back. "Their desperation has led them to ask the federal courts to allow electoral fraud," campaign manager Jackie Schutz Zeckman said. "They call for courts to override election officials and accept ballots that have not been legally cast."
Reports from voters said they had complained that their ballots had not been properly rejected. One was from Patrick Murphy, a former Democratic congressman from Palm Beach twittered: "I just heard from @PBCounty that my poll was not counted for" invalid signing. "Should be +1 @NelsonForSenate @AndrewGillum. Must pass these ridiculous voting barriers."
In Georgia, the highly competitive governor's contest has led the Democrats to accuse Republican challenger Brian Kemp of misconduct. Kemp served as Secretary of State until Thursday and was an advocate of new electoral laws, of which the Democrats claim to disempower thousands of voters, most of them minorities. Democrats Stacey Abram's supporters fought on Friday to force a runoff election by helping voters to confirm their provisional polls.
It is not the first time that Broward County and Snipes, the polling station there, have been at the center of controversy over the ballots. Broward has had controversial debates about "hanging men" and other voting irregularities that marked the outcome of the 2000 presidential race between George W. Bush and Al Gore.
In the presidential election in 2004, Snipes accused the US Postal Service of losing 58,000 voting cards, and later announced that only 6,000 ballots had disappeared. Post officials said they did not do anything wrong. Then, on a Saturday before the elections, Snipes' office extinguished 2,400 empty postal ballots for voters in the post office, after the postal carriers had already disappeared that day.
In 2016 Democratic Republican Debbie Wasserman Schultz faced the challenge of Bernie Sanders-backed candidate Tim Canova in the 23rd district of Florida. Canova sued Broward election officials and asked to inspect the physical ballots in the race. Snipes was accused of destroying the physical ballots while digital copies were stored when the lawsuit was pending – a violation of a federal law requiring the congressional ballots to be stored for 22 months after a poll.
"Every Floridian should be worried about more and more fraud in Palm Beach and the Broward counties, and Broward election leader Brenda Snipes has acted absolutely bad faith in the past," Scott said.
Rubio said that Snipes is a "candidate for removal".
Snipes could not be reached for comment. Her lawyer, Burnadette Norris-Weeks, argued that counting votes in large countries like Broward takes time. Scott – and the media – said he was too hasty when he won the Senate, she said.
"They call these breeds way too early," she said.
Scott tried to raise money for the controversy by making a 12-minute call with about 90 donors on Friday afternoon asking for contributions. "I'm disappointed with Bill Nelson," Scott said to one of the calling people. Scott also said it was "hard to believe that they are still counting."
The law of the state allows the governor to suspend an election supervisor for disrespect or incompetence and to order a replacement. Snipes was appointed by the then government. Jeb Bush, a Republican, in 2003 after ousting her predecessor.
Florida law enforcement spokesman Jeremy Burns said the agency has not investigated Scott's claim, as the US Department of State has reported that no fraud is currently being reported. The governor has the opportunity to initiate an investigation by presenting a letter to the agency's director, Burns said, but he has not.
The three-member committee commission of each district must submit feedback by Saturday noon. The Secretary of State in Florida will then determine if races meet the threshold for machine records. If recounts are ordered, these charges are due by Thursday. Then, the Secretary of State determines if a race meets the manual recount threshold, which is defined as a "hand count of over and under notes reserved for machine count."
These decommissioned ballots – where voters skipped a race or voted for two candidates in a race – would be the subject of manual recounting.
Rozsa reported from Lauderhill, Florida. Washington Sean Sullivan and Josh Dawsey contributed to the report.