Governor Scott’s U.S. Senate campaign files for emergency injunction to sieze Broward voting machines

Voting booths in Leon County
Voting booths in Leon County. Mitch Perry/Florida Phoenix

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Gov. Rick Scott’s campaign now wants law enforcement to seize voting machines in Broward County and on Sunday he asked a judge to grant an emergency injunction to direct Broward Sherriff’s deputies and Florida Department of Law Enforcement agents to do it.

It’s not known when the Circuit Court judge will hear the case.

The lawsuit attacks Democratic Broward Supervisor of Elections Brenda Snipes for “lack of transparency” during the current vote count, and includes a listing of irregularities from past elections.

“There is no adequate legal remedy here apart from an emergency injunction to impound and preserve the voting machines, tallying devices and ballots,” the campaign’s legal filing contends.

Florida Democratic Party Executive Director Juan Peñalosa charged that Scott “is doing his best to impersonate Latin American dictators who have overthrown Democracies in Venezuela and Cuba.”

Peñalosa joined voting rights groups the League of Women Voters of Florida and Common Cause in criticizing Scott for having a clear conflict of interest because he is using his powers as governor to influence the recount of his U.S. Senate race against Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson. In the days after the election, Scott’s lead over Nelson has shrunk as the counting continues, but the margin is still close enough that state law requires a machine recount, and possibly a hand recount after that.

“The Governor is using his position to consolidate power by cutting at the very core of our Democracy,” Peñalosa said.

In its request for injunction, the Scott campaign alleges that the Broward Supervisor of Elections “ has been unwilling to comply with her obligations under Florida law to provide transparency in the reporting and tabulation of votes. The Supervisor of Elections has repeatedly failed to account for the number of ballots remaining to be counted, obfuscated her ballot processing procedures, and failed to report the results of her tabulation regularly as required by Florida law.

In the days following the general election, the Supervisor of Elections was unable to accurately respond to simple requests for the number of votes remaining to be counted. This lack of transparency, in violation of Florida law, raises substantial concern about validity of the electoral process and the preservation of the voting machines, tallying devices, ballots used and cast during the general election.”

Besides Scott’s legal action to seek an emergency injunction, Florida’s Republican machinery was in full swing in trying to influence the statewide recount that began over the weekend.

Republican Attorney General Gov. Pam Bondi wrote a letter Sunday directing the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to investigate reports of voting irregularities in Broward County.

The Phoenix was unable to determine Sunday night whether Bondi’s office has the authority to order FDLE to act.

Late last week, an FDLE spokeswoman said the state law enforcement agency was not investigating anything, despite Scott’s call for them to do so, because the Secretary of State’s office hadn’t identified any problems that needed investigating.

Because of past problems in Broward County, the Division of Elections placed two staffers at the Broward elections office on election night to monitor voting.  A Secretary of State spokeswoman told the media on Saturday and Sunday that her department has not found “any evidence of criminal activity at this time.”

“Department staff continues to observe the administration of the election in Broward County,” spokeswoman Sarah Revell told the Tampa Bay Times. “Our staff has not seen any evidence of criminal activity in Broward County at this time.”

Scott’s dual roles as governor and U.S. Senate candidate in a contested election continue to draw concern. In a letter to Scott, the League of Women Voters and Common Cause ask the governor to “immediately relinquish authority and remove yourself from any control of any person or agency responsible for the processing and counting of ballots from the November 6 general election. Removing yourself will help to ensure that there is no appearance of any impropriety, undue influence or conflict of interest in directives being given to election officials.”

 

Julie Hauserman
Julie Hauserman has been writing about Florida for more than 30 years. She is a former Capitol bureau reporter for the St. Petersburg (Tampa Bay) Times, and reported for The Stuart News and the Tallahassee Democrat. She was a national commentator for National Public Radio’s Weekend Edition Sunday and The Splendid Table . She has won many awards, including two nominations for the Pulitzer Prize. Her work is featured in several Florida anthologies, including The Wild Heart of Florida , The Book of the Everglades , and Between Two Rivers . Her new book is Drawn to The Deep, a University Press of Florida biography of Florida cave diver and National Geographic explorer Wes Skiles.

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