Massive Florida Recount Begins Despite Questions Over Mystery Ballots

The first recounts in Florida's contested elections began Sunday morning in two large Tampa Bay counties, after the secretary of state ordered reviews of two nationally watched contests, reports AP

Miami-Dade County election officials began feeding ballots into scanning machines Saturday evening. The tedious work in that one South Florida county alone could take days, considering some 800,000 ballots were cast. Multiply that by 67 counties in the nation’s third-most populous state, and the scope of the task was beginning to sink in Sunday. -AP

Neighboring Broward County's recount was delayed Sunday due to a technical issue with one of the tabulation machines, while Palm Beach County supervisor of elections, Susan Bucher, says she doesn't think her department can meet a Thursday deadline to hand over duplicated ballots sought by Gov. Rick Scott's Senate campaign. 

Susan Bucher (right)

Circuit Court Judge Krista Marx said Bucher should have submitted improperly completed ballots to the county’s Canvassing Board, instead of allowing her staff to make decisions on voter intent and fill out duplicate ballots to feed through machines.

“Everything I have says the Canvassing Board must make the determination not your staff members. … The language is unambiguous that it is for the canvassing board to make the determination,” Marx said. -SunSentinel

The Florida secretary of state ordered the recounts Saturday, "an unprecedented step for the two flagship races in a state that took five weeks to decide the 2000 presidential election," according to AP

Florida's counties have until 3 p.m. Thursday to complete their recounts. 

According to unofficial results, Republican former US Rep. Ron DeSantis was 0.5 percentage points ahead of Democratic Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum - who withdrew his concession in the Florida gubernatorial race. 

"Let me say clearly, I am replacing my words of concession with an uncompromising and unapologetic call that we count every single vote," Gillum said at a Saturday news conference. "I say this recognizing my fate in this may or may not change."

DeSantis is proceeding as if he's won and has activated a transition team. In a Saturday video statement, DeSantis said the results of the election were "clear and unambiguous" and that he was preparing to become the state’s next governor. He also thanked the state’s supervisors of elections, canvassing boards, and the staffs for “working hard to ensure that all lawful votes are counted,” according to AP

Meanwhile, Republican Gov. Rick Scott's lead over Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson has fallen to less than .025 percentage points, which has triggered a hand recount of ballots from tabulation machines which were unable to determine who received a vote. 

Scott has accused Nelson of wanting fraudulent ballots and those cast by noncitizens to count - noting that Nelson's lawyers objected to a provisional ballot being rejected in Palm Beach which was cast by a noncitizen

"He is trying to commit fraud to win this election," Scott said while appearing on Fox News, adding: "Bill Nelson’s a sore loser. He’s been in politics way too long."

Neither the Florida Department of Law Enforcement or the state elections division say they have found evidence of voter fraud. 

Mystery ballots

As we reported Saturday, Broward County Supervisor of Elections, Brenda Snipes, missed a court ordered 7PM Friday deadline to allow for the immediate inspection of mysteriously found ballots

The court was asked to intervene in a tight race for US Senate between Democratic incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson and Republican Gov. Rick Scott, after tens of thousands of ballots mysteriously appeared in Broward County, and another 15,000 in Palm Beach. 

Lawyers for Snipes have argued that such a quick response would interfere with the count, while Rep. Bill Nelson has accused Republicans of trying to deny him a seat which he believes he will keep once all the votes are counted. 

Workers were filmed by Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) shuffling boxes into a truck, before he was forcibly removed by a police officer.  

Meanwhile, Broward County election officials were seen shuffling mystery boxes into a rented truck on election night: 

Here's Snipes trying to talk her way around the current recount quagmire:

At least Gaetz is maintaining a sense of humor about things...

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