Mayhem, Legal Action, And Protests Plague Florida Election Recounts

All 67 Florida counties are facing a state-ordered deadline of Thursday to complete their recounts following last Tuesday's midterm elections, and half have already begun. 

Many other Sunshine State counties were expected to begin the work Monday after a weekend of recount drama in Broward and Palm Beach counties. The developments make this a tumultuous political moment in Florida. 

In Broward County, the recount was delayed for hours Sunday because of a problem with one of the tabulation machines. That prompted the Republican Party to accuse Broward County's supervisor of elections, Brenda Snipes, of "incompetence and gross mismanagement."

Broward County officials faced further headaches after realizing the county mistakenly counted 22 rejected absentee ballots. The problem seemed impossible to fix because dismissed ballots were mixed in with 205 legal ballots. Snipes said it would be unfair to throw out all the votes.

Gov. Rick Scott filed suit against Snipes. He's seeking a court order for law enforcement agents to impound all voting machines, tallying devices and ballots "when not in use until such time as any recounts." 

The suit accused Snipes of repeatedly failing to account for the number of ballots left to be counted and failing to report results regularly as required by law. The court didn't immediately respond.

On the other hand, Juan Penalosa, executive director of the Florida Democratic Party, accused Scott of "using his position to consolidate power by cutting at the very core of our democracy."

In Palm Beach County, the supervisor of elections said she didn't think her department could meet Thursday's deadline to complete that recount, throwing into question what would happen to votes there.

The recount in other major population centers, including Miami-Dade and Pinellas and Hillsborough counties in the Tampa Bay area, has been continuing without incident.

Unofficial results showed Republican former U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis ahead of Democratic Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum by 0.41 percentage points in the governor's contest. In the Senate race, Scott's lead over Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson was 0.14 percentage points.

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