Losing ground in the Florida Senate race, GOP Gov. Rick Scott on Thursday night filed a lawsuit against election officials in Broward and Palm Beach counties, accusing “unethical liberals” of trying to swing the race to Democrats.
“Every day since the election, the left-wing activists in Broward County have been coming out with more and more ballots out of nowhere. Their goal is to keep mysteriously finding votes until the election turns out the way they want,” Scott told reporters in a brief press conference in front of the Governor’s Mansion.
The suit accuses Broward elections supervisor Brenda Snipes and Palm Beach supervisor Susan Bucher of “rampant fraud” and alleges that they refused to release voting tabulations.
President Trump jumped fully onboard with these allegations, claiming that “law enforcement” and lawyers that he’s sending to the state will “expose the FRAUD.”
“Florida voted for Rick Scott!” the President said in one tweet.
The two counties, which both lean Democratic, were ground zero for vote-counting issues during the 2000 presidential recount.
Republicans’ new claims come as Scott’s lead over incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson has dwindled over the past few days from almost 60,000 to around 15,000 votes, out of some 8.1 million total ballots, well within the .5 percent margin that automatically triggers a recount under state law. That shift came as additional ballots were counted in overwhelmingly Democratic Broward and Palm Beach counties over the past two days.
But the mere counting of ballots is being cast as an attempt to interfere with the outcome of the race.
Nelson’s campaign said that Scott was trying to block the democratic process from playing out.
“The goal here is to see that all the votes in Florida are counted and counted accurately. Rick Scott’s action appears to be politically motivated and borne out of desperation,” spokesman Dan McLaughlin said in a Thursday statement.
Marc Elias, Nelson’s lead lawyer on the recount effort, accused Scott of acting like a “third-world dictator” by threatening to involve law enforcement in the elections process.
“The tone, the tenor and his behavior last night is not suggestive of a campaign that believes its winning,” Elias said in a Friday press call.
Elias also announced that Nelson’s campaign has also filed a lawsuit against Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner, alleging that the process used to validate mail ballots is unfair.
Elias said that the signature-matching process used to determine which ballots are counted leaves the decision up to the “untrained opinions” of poll workers, and that no uniform standards are applied from county to county.
Meanwhile, Republicans, including Trump, are trying to gin up concerns about Elias himself. Elias was the general counsel for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, and hired Fusion GPS to investigate allegations of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.
“You see the people, and they were involved with that fraud of the fake dossier, the phony dossier. I guess I hear they were somehow involved,” Trump said in a Friday morning press scrum.
An emergency hearing has been called for 3 p.m. ET in Broward County to address Scott’s suit against Snipes, the supervisor of elections, CNN reported.
This post has been updated.