LAUDERHILL (CBSMiami/AP) – Chaos erupted outside at the Broward Supervisor of Elections office in Lauderhill when an impromptu protest appeared ahead of Friday’s canvassing board review of 200 provisional ballots.
Friday morning, anticipating protests, trucks used to transport election equipment were lined up in front of the tabulation center to form a sort of barrier.
About an hour later, a group of about 30 sign-holding Republican protesters gathered outside the office singing “The Star Spangled Banner” and “God Bless America.” There were also chants of “lock he up” directed at Broward’s Supervisor of Elections Dr. Brenda Snipes.
Scott supporters say there’s election fraud taking place to help Nelson.
“Even before the election, we knew that, mysteriously, they would find more ballots. As usual, it’s Broward County and Brenda Snipes,” said “Sharon.”
Republican U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz called Snipes “either incompetent or corrupt” and accused her of “spinning ballots out of nothing” in the Senate seat between Republican Gov. Rick Scott and Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson.
Gaetz, whose district is in Florida’s Panhandle, also said the state should take over the Broward elections office.
Snipes is in the crosshairs after the vote counting from Tuesday’s election has taken days to complete. With each new tabulation, several key races have gotten closer including the Senate race, the gubernatorial race, and the race for agriculture commissioner.
Scott, who once enjoyed a healthy lead, is now only about 15,000 votes ahead of Nelson, a number that if it holds would mandate a recount.
Scott has filed lawsuits against the Supervisor of Elections in both Broward and Palm Beach counties over the way they are handling the ballot-counting process. Scott has also asked the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) to investigate to see if any crimes have been committed.
The FDLE does not have an active investigation of Snipes, according to FDLE spokesman Gretl Plessinger. He said they checked with the Department of State for any fraud claims against her and there were none.
A lawyer for Sen. Nelson criticized Gov. Scott for using his official position to try to influence ballot counting as the two face a potential hand recount in the too-close-to-call Senate race.
Nelson lawyer Marc Elias says it’s “not appropriate” for a governor to suggest he’s going to use his powers to “interject his law enforcement authority to prevent the counting of ballots that have been legally cast.”
Counties have until Saturday to turn in their first set of unofficial returns. Nelson’s campaign is suing to extend that deadline.
If the vote margin remains under the half percentage point for any of the three races in question, Secretary of State Ken Detzner is required to order the recount.
A recount must be conducted before noon November 18th, when the official returns are due from each county canvassing board.
The Florida Elections Canvassing Commission — comprised of Scott and two Cabinet members — is slated to meet 9 a.m. November 20th to certify the election results.
(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)