(Updated )Saying that he saw no evidence to do so, Broward Circuit Chief Judge Jack Tuter today rejected a request for an injunction from Rick Scott’s U.S. Senate campaign to impound voting machines, ballots and tallying devices.
However, the judge did agree with the Scott legal team that “there needs to be some additional layer of confidence” during the recount process, and recommended that three additional Broward County sheriff deputies be called in to monitor procedures in Supervisor of Elections Brenda Snipes’s office.
“It’s to make sure that everybody has a degree of comfort that no ballots are leaving the office, that they’re all protected, and the integrity of the process is assured,” the Judge Tuter said.
The judge made his declaration from the bench at 11:40 a.m. and suggested that attorneys for both camps – Scott and Democratic incumbent U.S. Senator Bill Nelson — discuss in private his recommendation and come back before his court at 1 p.m. The attorneys later returned and agreed to the judge’s suggestion. Tuter then wrote that recommendation in an order.
Meanwhile, Nelson, who is still trailing Scott by a small margin, has called on Scott to recuse himself from “any role” in Florida’s recounts. Some 8.2-million people voted in the U.S. Senate race.
In his remarks, Nelson said: “One fact is that Rick Scott isn’t interested in making sure every lawful vote is counted. And the second is that he’s using his power as governor to try to undermine the voting process.
He’s stood on the steps of the governor’s mansion and tried to use the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to investigate the Broward elections chief.
He’s filed lawsuits to try to stop votes from being counted and to impound voting machines.
The reason he’s doing these things is obvious: he’s worried when all the votes are counted, he’ll lose the election.
But it’s also obvious that Scott cannot oversee this process in a fair and impartial way.
And, thus, he should remove himself from any role in the recount process so the people can have confidence in the integrity of the election. Given his efforts to undermine the votes of Floridians, this is the only way that we can ensure that the people’s votes are protected.”
Earlier today, Judge Tuter told both camps to tone down the heated rhetoric.
“I’m urging because of the highly public nature of this case, to ramp down the rhetoric. If someone in this county has evidence of voter fraud or irregularities at the supervisor’s office. They should report it to your local law enforcement officer,” he said. “Everything that the lawyers are saying in front of the elections office is being beamed all over the country. We need to be careful about what we say….”
The Scott campaign has been criticized for presenting no evidence to back up fraud allegations, and the Department of State has thus far not discovered any criminal activities on the part of the supervisor of elections in either Broward or Palm Beach counties.
Recounts are ongoing, with pivotal races in the U.S. Senate and the Florida Governor.
Scott has a narrow lead of just 0.15% going into the machine recount. If the margin remains below 0.25% by Thursday, there will then be a statewide hand recount of the contest.