FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – Injunction denied. That's the decision Monday from a Broward Circuit Court judge at an emergency hearing involving a lawsuit filed by Florida Governor Rick Scott, asking to impound ballots and machines at the Broward Election office.
Instead of granting the injunction, Judge Jack Tuter suggested the addition of three additional armed Broward Sheriff's Deputies at election headquarters who do not report directly to Elections Supervisor Dr. Brenda Snipes, like other deputies do.
Judge Tuter allowed the attorneys to meet privately and come up with a plan that everyone could agree on and when court reconvened, all sides agreed to the suggested plan of three additional deputies. One will monitor cameras, one will monitors USB drives that contain votes and the third will be a supervisor who the other two report to. They will not report to the supervisor's office.
Republican Gov. Rick Scott's U.S. Senate campaign filed two new lawsuits Sunday, one demanding law enforcement impound and secure voting machines, tallies and ballots in Broward and Palm Beach counties any time they were not actively in use.
"What we are asking the court to do today is too remove any doubt. Take away the concerns of the citizens, take away the concerns of the public that this election process will be protected," stated attorney for Rick Scott, Jason Zimmerman. "All you have to do, your honor, to take away that doubt, to fix the erosion of this process, is to grant this injunction. Allow Broward County Sheriff's to monitor the votes when they are not in use. We are not asking the court to have Broward County Sheriff's Office overseeing or standing over the shoulder of people who are counting the votes. We are not asking the Broward County Sheriff's Office to interfere with any count whatsoever. We are asking the court, when these ballots in these voting machines, are not in use, to have someone other than Dr. Snipes, other than someone who listens and reports to Dr. Snipes be a part of the inspection process."
Broward Canvassing Board attorney Eugene Pettis countered by saying security is extremely tight at the facility.
"Nobody is able to move about in these areas without proper documentation, period. They have not presented anything to suggest that someone got into this area and somehow had access to manipulate anything, They're just saying 'We'd be more comfortable if we could somehow get an order from this court to at least imply that intervention was necessary because we didn't trust Dr. Snipes.' You want to talk about what undermines our electoral process, it's that type of behavior, that type of suggestion, without any evidence. They're talking about 2016," said Pettis.
In addition to adding three deputies, Judge Tuter also asked attorney's on all sides to ramp down the rhetoric.
"I am urging, due to high public nature of this case, to ramp down the rhetoric."
He also asked Pettis to ask the Broward Supervisor of Elections office for more transparency.
"More transparency in this case is better," said Judge Tuter.
Pettis agreed "100-percent."
Another lawsuit demanded any votes tabulated in Palm Beach County after Saturday's reporting deadline to the state for an initial ballot count get tossed from official totals.
All this after the initial count in the Florida Senate race had Scott ahead of Sen. Bill Nelson by a small enough margin to trigger a recount according state law.
Nelson released a statement Sunday afternoon in response to Scott's new lawsuits, describing the move as an effort "to stop every legal vote from being counted."
"He's doing this for the same reason he's been making false and panicked claims about voter fraud -- he's worried that when all the votes are counted he'll lose this election," the statement said. "We will not allow him to undermine the democratic process and will use every legal tool available to protect the rights of Florida voters."
The Florida Democratic Party went a step further, saying in a statement Sunday that Scott is "doing his best to impersonate Latin American dictators who have overthrown Democracies in Venezuela and Cuba."
"The Governor is using his position to consolidate power by cutting at the very core of our Democracy," the state party's executive director, Juan Peñalosa, said.
Scott and President Donald Trump have leveled a raft of serious accusations against Democrats in the state, while Nelson, in turn, said he believes "when every legal ballot is counted," he would win.
On Friday, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement said it was not investigating anything related to the election after the Florida Department of State said there were no allegations of criminal activity.
Sunday's complaints from the Scott campaign add to the litigation piling up less than a week after Election Day as both sides battle it out for the Senate seat.
Nelson's team filed a lawsuit on Friday against the Florida GOP secretary of state, and Scott announced a pair of lawsuits with the National Republican Senatorial Committee last Thursday against both Snipes and Bucher. On Friday, Scott and the NRSC won the suits, meaning election supervisors must comply with Scott's requests for certain vote-related information.
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