Trump says law enforcement is examining possible 'election fraud' in Florida

President TrumpDonald John TrumpBroward County official Brenda Snipes submits resignation after criticism Retired lieutenant general tears into Trump over attacks against Navy SEAL: 'Disgusting' Senate barrels toward showdown over Trump's court picks MORE said Thursday that law enforcement was examining a "big corruption scandal" regarding "Election Fraud" in two Florida counties that have found themselves at the center of a bitter fight over vote counts in the state's hotly contested Senate race. 

The president's tweet came less than two hours after Rick Scott, the Republican governor of Florida who's seeking to oust Sen. Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William NelsonSenate barrels toward showdown over Trump's court picks Why Democratic policies outperform Democratic politicians in rural America Nelson concedes in bitterly-fought Florida Senate race MORE (D-Fla.), sued Broward County Supervisor of Elections Brenda Snipes. 

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The lawsuit, filed in the Seventeenth Judicial Circuit Court of Florida Thursday evening, alleges that Snipes's office withheld critical information about vote counts, including how many people voted and how many ballots have yet to be counted. 

In his news conference, Scott asked the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) to launch an investigation into the matter. He was speaking in his capacity as a candidate rather than in his official capacity as governor.

 

FDLE spokesman Jeremy Burns confirmed to The Hill Thursday that the department would love investigate elections officials in Palm Beach and Broward counties.

In a news conference at the Florida governor's mansion on Thursday night, Scott accused "unethical liberals try to steal this election from the people of Florida," and decried what he called "incompetence and irregularities in vote tabulations in Broward and Palm Beach." 

"Every Floridian should be concerned there may be rampant fraud happening in Palm Beach and Broward Counties," he said. "And the Broward Supervisor of Elections Brenda Snipes has a history of acting in bad faith."

Scott appeared to be on track to victory in the Senate race on Tuesday. But late vote tallies from Broward and Palm Beach that trickled in on Wednesday and Thursday shrunk his lead over Nelson, raising prospects of a recount.

In Florida, if two candidates are within 0.5 points of each other, it triggers an automatic machine recount, while a margin of 0.25 points or less prompts a hand recount. As of Thursday night, Scott led Nelson by a mere 0.18 points — well within the margin for a hand recount.

Dan McLaughlin, a spokesman for Nelson, said in a statement that the senator's campaign wanted to ensure that every legally-cast vote is counted, rejecting Scott's assertion that Nelson is trying to "steal" the election. 

“The goal here is to see that all the votes in Florida are counted and counted accurately," McLaughlin said in a statement. "Rick Scott’s action appears to be politically motivated and borne out of desperation.”

--Updated at 11:13 p.m.