Scott appeals judge's decision to give Florida voters extra time to fix ballot issues

Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) and the campaign arm for Senate Republicans are appealing a federal judge's decision to give voters in Florida until Saturday to remedy issues with their mail-in and provisional ballots.

U.S. District Judge Mark WalkerBradley (Mark) Mark WalkerMembers spar over sexual harassment training deadline Colorado state senators plan to introduce bill to let NCAA athletes get paid Republicans offer 'free market alternative' to paid family leave MORE's order allowed voters whose mail-in and provisional ballots were rejected due to mismatched signatures an extra two days to fix the issues.

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That order came in response to a lawsuit filed last week by Scott's Democratic opponent, Sen. Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William NelsonTrump administration renews interest in Florida offshore drilling: report Dem reps say they were denied access to immigrant detention center Ex-House Intel chair: Intel panel is wrong forum to investigate Trump's finances MORE (Fla.), and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee challenging the state's signature-matching statute. 

Republicans filed an appeal Thursday in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit in Atlanta to challenge that ruling.

When voters submit provisional or mail-in ballots in Florida, election officials must determine that the signature on the ballot matches the signature on an individual's voter file. If the signature does not match, the ballot is deemed illegal and is not counted.

In his ruling, Walker, an appointee of former President Obama, appeared to side with attorneys for Nelson, who claimed that Florida's current process for evaluating provisional and mail-in ballots with mismatched signatures lacked uniform standards and offered voters only an "illusory process to cure" the issues.

"We are immediately appealing this baseless decision and we are confident we will prevail in the Eleventh Circuit," Lauren Schenone, the press secretary for Scott's campaign, said in a statement.

The appeal also came hours before local election officials in Florida hit a 3 p.m. deadline to submit the results of machine recounts in the state's closely contested races for Senate, governor and agriculture commissioner.

Candidates in each of those races were separated by less than 0.5 points when unofficial election results were submitted to state election officials on Saturday, triggering a round of machine recounts and touching off a series of legal challenges from both Republicans and Democrats.

The Senate and agriculture commissioner races are widely expected to trigger hand recounts after the machine recount results are submitted later Thursday. A hand recount happens if two candidates are separated by 0.25 points or less.

The signature-matching lawsuit is only one of several filed by Nelson and Democratic groups in recent days. Other lawsuits ask the court to delay a series of deadlines for completing recounts and seek to challenge the state's standards for evaluating voter intent on unconventionally marked ballots.