Democrats who had a disappointing election day in Florida have now gained significant ground as votes continue to trickle in, and Republicans in the Sunshine State are making allegations that the party is engaging in fraud — though not offering evidence to back up the claims.
Florida was seen as a key battleground in the 2018 midterm elections, with Republican Rick Scott looking to unseat incumbent Bill Nelson and a hotly contested governors race between Democrat Andrew Gillum and Republican Ron DeSantis. Though both Democrats had been leading in the polls in the days before voters took to the polls, by the end of election night, it was DeSantis and Scott holding slim leads.
But as the state continued to count votes, it was Nelson and Gillum both narrowing the gap to less than a half a point, which the New York Times noted would trigger an automatic recount in both races. As the Democratic camp holds out hope that the ballots still being counted could erase the GOP leads, Republicans have gone on the attack.
On Thursday, Rick Scott claimed that “unethical liberals” were trying to “steal the election” and said he and the National Republican Senatorial Committee were suing the Broward County elections supervisor over ballot counting. As News4Jax reported, Scott claimed that there was a “lack of transparency” that raised concerns and demanded an emergency hearing.
Scott went on to say that there could be fraud, but offered no evidence of this claim.
“Every Floridian should be concerned there may be rampant fraud happening in Palm Beach and Broward counties,” Scott said.
“It has been over 48 hours since the polls closed and Broward and Palm Beach counties are still finding and counting ballots,” Scott said. “The people of Florida deserve fairness and transparency, and the supervisors are failing to give it to us.”
Rick Scott is not the only Republican attacking the vote counting process in Florida. Senator Marco Rubio has joined in as well, claiming on Twitter that “democrat lawyers are descending on Florida” and had intentions to change the results of the election. Like Scott, Rubio did not provide evidence of the claim.
Now democrat lawyers are descending on #Florida. They have been very clear they aren’t here to make sure every vote is counted.
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) November 8, 2018
And Rudy Giuliani claimed that it was “Hillary’s lawyers” who were “trying to steal Florida election.”
Hillary’s lawyers trying to steal Florida election. They are still counting(or creating)ballots just in Democratic Broward and Palm Beach. All other votes counted in the state. Court should disqualify votes counted only after all other counties were finished.
— Rudy Giuliani (@RudyGiuliani) November 9, 2018
The claims have led to criticism of Republicans, with opponents saying that they are trying to stymie the vote counting process.
Marco Rubio: Democrats Are Trying to Steal Florida Senate Race by Counting All the Votes https://t.co/XfGnrdxAl2
— Jon Cooper ???? (@joncoopertweets) November 9, 2018
Nelson’s camp has pushed also back against the allegations, with campaign spokesman Dan McLaughlin saying that Rick Scott’s action “appears to be politically motivated and borne out of desperation.”