FLORIDA: The Sunshine State has been hit by an “adrenaline-run call for recount” amongst the fight for a final countdown in Florida. The 2018 midterm elections have once again been hit by déjà vu of retrospective, controversial recount fight between former President George W. Bush and Democrat Al Gore in the 2000 Presidential race. The Supreme Court eventually intervened in that dispute, halting the recount and handing the White House to Bush.
The first round of machine recounts, which must be completed by Thursday, sets up a bitter fight to the finish in Florida’s races for Senate, Governor and Agriculture Commissioner. After the key deadline of noon on Saturday, 10th November 2018 being over for county election staff to submit unofficial vote returns – the three statewide races stands on a “recount mode.”
Sarah Revell, a spokesperson for the Florida Department of State, confirmed on Saturday that Secretary of State Ken Detzner (Republican) had ordered recounts in the three races. “The first unofficial set of returns for the U.S. Senate, Governor and Commissioner of Agriculture races has met the statutory threshold to trigger a machine recount,” Revell responded to a reporter’s email. “As required under Florida law, a statewide machine recount has been ordered by the Secretary of State.”
In Florida, an automatic machine recount is triggered if two candidates are within 0.5 points of one another. If the candidates are within 0.25 points of one another after that machine recount is conducted, a hand recount is triggered. The most closely watched recount is the Senate race between incumbent democrat, Senator Bill Nelson and Florida’s Republican Governor Rick Scott, who currently carries a narrow lead of roughly 12,500 votes — about 0.15 points.
The Senate race has prompted dueling accusations from Republicans and Democrats, unfolding various lawsuits in the legal teams of Senate candidates, all trying to battle for their client to send them to “Capitol Hill” in Jan 2019. Scott and his allies have raised the prospect of fraud in the ballot-counting process in Broward and Palm Beach, with the Governor calling on Saturday for Florida sheriffs to “watch for any violations during the recount process.”
Scott took the unprecedented step this week to act, only in the capacity as a Senate candidate, rather than as a Governor – to raise questions of asking the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) to investigate election officials in Broward and Palm Beach counties. The Senate race spiraled into a series of legal fights this week after Scott and the National Republican Senatorial Committee filed lawsuits against election officials in Broward and Palm Beach counties — both Democratic strongholds where vote counts continued to trickle in after Election Day.
Two judges awarded Scott key legal wins in those cases on Friday. In Broward County, Judge Carol-Lisa Phillips ordered the County’s Supervisor of Elections, Brenda Snipes – to turn over voter information, including how many people casted their ballots and how many votes remained to be counted.
Meanwhile, in Palm Beach County, Judge Krista Marx ordered the County Supervisor of Elections, Susan Bucher, to release certain ballots that had been deemed defective to the canvassing board for final review. Nelson’s campaign and the Democratic Executive Committee filed a lawsuit of their own on Friday against Ken Detzner. After four days of midterms having ended, a “blue volunteer tired of this lawsuit battle,” cited height of “political incorrectness” in Nelson campaign wasting donors’ money in political rivalry just to challenge Detzner because he is a Republican.
That lawsuit, filed in federal court in Tallahassee, sought a uniform set of standards for canvassing boards to use to evaluate provisional ballots, as well as to postpone the noon Saturday deadline for counties to submit unofficial results to the state Division of Elections until after the case was heard. However, U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle declined to postpone the Saturday deadline. He has scheduled a hearing on the lawsuit’s challenge to how provisional ballots are evaluated for Wednesday, 14th November 2018.
Whether the direction of Florida state politics will swing towards blue or red wave, everyone needs to think about a greater wave – which is the looming “threat of rising sea-levels.” – and this is where the pendulum needs to halt !!!
The Florida races will eventually stop the adrenaline of the supporters in Florida, but let this be a friendly reminder to the supporters to also chase the winners to legislate at Capitol Hill for the “citizens’ rights and justice.” The “recount pendulum” will halt soon – but not sooner than we all should think about the threat of rising sea levels of the Florida’s panhandled geography. Armageddon of 2020 is not far – and the politicians should also be focused on environmental policies being on their priority agenda and not just a pass over of town halls or get out the vote events.
Exclusive News Report By:Kanwal Abidi – White House Correspondent & Bureau Chief, Washington D.C.