- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 11, 2018

Gov. Rick Scott renewed his claims to victory over Sen. Bill Nelson on Sunday as a recount began in the race for Senate, once again thrusting Florida to the forefront of a national election drama.

Meanwhile, 2,500 miles away, Arizona continued to count ballots and Democrat Kyrsten Sinema’s lead grew over Republican Martha McSally to more than 30,000 votes, reversing the election night gap that put Ms. McSally on top.

Nearly a week after voting ended, the size of Republicans’ majority in the Senate is not clear, nor is the outcome of governor’s races in Florida and Georgia.

Florida remains the most contentious state, with Republicans having declared victory in both of the biggest statewide races — yet their Democratic opponents are unwilling to concede.

“Bill Nelson’s a sore loser. We’ve won,” Mr. Scott said on “Fox News Sunday.” “I’ve had to win this election twice now. I will be going to Washington as the next U.S. senator from Florida, and I’m going to work hard to change the direction of this country like we did in Florida.”

Adding to the confusion is Democrat Andrew Gillum, who conceded the governor’s race to Republican Ron DeSantis on election night but recanted late last week. Both races are now in a recount, which began Saturday night.

SEE ALSO: Stacey Abrams seeks delay in Georgia vote certifications

Gadsden County was the first to complete its process, Republican attorneys said Sunday afternoon. Fifteen more counties will begin their recounts Monday, a handful on Tuesday and Clay County, the last, on Wednesday.

Mr. Scott maintains a lead, though it has been whittled down from what it was on election night as the original vote count continued for days in Broward and Palm Beach counties. Mr. Scott won court orders on Friday to force elections officials in those counties to comply with Florida sunshine laws about the process.

On Sunday, he filed legal cases in those counties.

He asked the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the sheriff’s offices in those counties “to impound and secure all voting machines, tallying devices and ballots when they are not in use until the conclusion of the recount,” according to the campaign.

He also filed a challenge arguing that Brenda Snipes, the Democratic elections supervisor in Broward County, counted ballots after a Saturday deadline.

Mr. Nelson fired back: “If Rick Scott wanted to make sure every legal ballot is counted, he would not be suing to try and stop voters from having their legal ballot counted as intended.”

Broward is no stranger to election drama.

The county suffered a new embarrassment when the machines being used in the recount malfunctioned Sunday morning, forcing a halt while both parties conducted an inspection.

Ms. Snipes has also been accused of polluting her totals by making unilateral decisions on some ballots’ validity without the legally required review by the canvassing board.

Neither Ms. Snipes nor her Democratic counterpart in Palm Beach County, Susan Bucher, abided by laws last week that require the counting process to be open by mandating regular updates on how many votes are in the building and how many remain to be counted.

On the Sunday morning talk shows, Mr. Scott said fraud had occurred.

State officials, though, say they have seen no evidence of fraud. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat, seized on the issue Sunday. Speaking to CNN, Mr. Schumer called on Mr. Scott to recuse himself from any recount decisions as governor.

“Saying it’s going too slowly is one thing. Saying you have concerns about how legitimate the count is, is another,” he told the “State of the Union” program. “No one has said there’s any fraud here. And the paramount issue here, the paramount issue is having every vote counted, even if it takes a little longer.”

In Arizona, which is traditionally a slow counter, Ms. McSally led the tally as of election night and for the first couple of days afterward, with about 1 percentage point separating her from Ms. Sinema.

Now it’s Ms. Sinema who is ahead by about 33,000, or about 1.5 percentage points, according to the tally as of Sunday afternoon.

There are still a quarter of a million ballots to count. Ms. McSally’s campaign says the largest pool of votes yet to be counted will be favorable to her.

In Georgia, Republican Brian Kemp has 50.3 percent of the vote in the governor’s race.

Democrat Stacey Abrams has little hope of catching him but has not conceded because provision ballots to be counted this week could at least bring Mr. Kemp below the 50 percent mark, which would force the race into a Dec. 4 runoff.

Ms. Abrams’ campaign filed a federal lawsuit Sunday asking a judge to delay certification of the race by one day and to make officials count any votes that she says were wrongly rejected.

• James Varney can be reached at jvarney@washingtontimes.com.

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