Florida law enforcement agency says it is not investigating county election officials
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) has not launched an investigation into election officials in Broward and Palm Beach counties because it has not found credible allegations of voter fraud, a spokesperson for the agency said Friday.
The announcement contrasts from Thursday night, when the agency said that it planned to investigate officials in Broward and Palm Beach counties after Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R), who is running to oust Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), called for a probe into elections fraud there.
“Right now, we’re working with the Department of State and we will investigate if there are any credible allegations of fraud or criminal activity,” FDLE spokesperson Gretl Plessinger told The Hill, adding that no such allegations have surfaced yet.
Scott requested the investigation in a hastily called news conference Thursday night, in which he announced that his campaign and the National Republican Senatorial Committee had filed a lawsuit against Broward Supervisor of Elections Brenda Snipes and Palm Beach Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher.
That lawsuit alleges that Snipes’s and Bucher’s offices have withheld crucial information about how many people had voted in their counties and how many ballots they have left to count.
Scott appeared on track to defeat Nelson after the election on Tuesday. But late vote returns — mostly from Broward and Palm Beach — closed his lead and put the Senate contest in range to trigger a recount.
As of Friday afternoon, Scott and Nelson are separated by a mere 0.18 percentage points — below the threshold for a mandatory hand recount.
Scott and his allies have accused Nelson of trying to “steal” the election and have suggested that new vote tallies from Broward and Palm Beach — both Democratic leaning counties — may be the results of fraud.
Meanwhile, Democrats have argued that a recount may be necessary to ensure that every lawfully-cast ballot is counted accurately.
Canvassing efforts in Broward and Palm Beach counties are lagging behind the rest of the state. Election officials there have said that they’re moving slowly because the two counties are large and have more votes to tally.
County election officials are required to submit unofficial election results to the Florida Division of Elections at noon on Saturday. A recount would begin soon after that if the razor-thin margin between Nelson and Scott holds.