Gov. Rick Scott, screenshot of mansion media appearance
Appearing on Fox News Sunday, Republican U.S. Senate front runner Gov. Rick Scott again accused his Democratic opponent U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson of “trying to commit fraud” as a statewide machine recount is now underway in their extremely close race for U.S. Senate.
Scott continued to make the claim even though his own staff at the Florida’s Secretary of State’s office confirmed Saturday that they have not found “any evidence of criminal activity at this time,” and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement said Friday it isn’t investigating any suspected fraud. Because of mismanagement problems during previous elections at the Broward County Supervisor of Elections office, the state had official observers deployed there during the election, and that was before it became clear the U.S. Senate race, as well as the races for governor and agriculture commissioner, were so tight it triggered an automatic recount under Florida law.
A statewide machine recount of the Scott-Nelson race was ordered on Saturday after unofficial results showed that Scott leads Nelson by just 12,562 votes, or .15 percent. That count is supposed to be finished by Thursday. If, after the machine recount, the margin is at or below .25 percent, a statewide hand recount will take place.
Scott has been extremely aggressive ever since he began seeing his winning margin narrow after he declared victory over Nelson late on election night. He first claimed the Nelson campaign has been perpetuating “fraud” at a news conference at the governor’s mansion on Thursday night, and has continued the assertion since.
Scott asked several times in the Fox interview about where “93,000” votes came from in Broward and Palm Beach counties in the days after election night. Nelson’s legal team has said that the increase comes simply from all votes being counted up until the noon Saturday deadline for all supervisors of elections to produce unofficial results.
“Senator Nelson has gone to court to say that the fraudulent ballots – fraudulent ballots – that were not properly delivered, signed, whatever, should be counted. Okay?” Scott told Chris Wallace of Fox News Sunday. “Senator Nelson is clearly trying to commit to fraud to win this election. That’s all this is.”
“Bill Nelson is a sore loser,” he charged. “He’s been in politics way too long – 42 years. He just won’t give up.”
The Nelson campaign filed a lawsuit in federal court last week, demanding that the state count every mail-in and provisional ballot that has been tossed for having a “signature mismatch.” Among other things, Nelson’s legal team argues that older voter’s signatures may change over time due to health conditions, and may differ from the ones on file at the elections office. The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida scheduled a hearing in the case Wednesday.
Fox News host Wallace told viewers that Nelson had declined an offer to appear on the Sunday morning news program. A clip shown by Fox News had him saying, “Votes are not being found, they’re being counted.”
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