The Latest: Trump tweets, weighing in on Florida Senate race

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — The Latest on the Florida election (all times local):

9:45 p.m.

President Donald Trump is weighing in on Florida’s hotly contested Senate race, citing the possibility of election fraud.

Trump tweets: “Law Enforcement is looking into another big corruption scandal having to do with Election Fraud in #Broward and Palm Beach. Florida voted for Rick Scott!”

Republican Gov. Rick Scott held a 0.21 percentage point lead over Democratic incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson on Thursday afternoon.

As outgoing governor, Scott said at a news conference Thursday night that he has asked the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to investigate elections offices in the Democratic strongholds of Palm Beach and Broward counties, questioning whether they were trying to inflate the Democratic vote.

Nelson’s campaign released a statement saying Scott’s action appears to be politically motivated and borne of desperation in his bid to win his Senate race.

Gretl Plessinger, a spokeswoman for the FDLE, said the agency would follow up on the governor’s request.

This item has been corrected to show Scott has asked, not ordered, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to investigate elections offices in Palm Beach and Broward counties.

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9:10 p.m.

Republican Gov. Rick Scott’s Senate campaign is suing the Broward County elections supervisor to turn over records regarding how ballots are being counted.

Scott’s campaign and the National Republican Senatorial Committee filed a lawsuit late Thursday demanding that Broward Elections Supervisor Brenda Snipes be ordered to turn over several records detailing the counting and collection of ballots cast in Tuesday’s election. They are seeking an emergency hearing as the votes must be certified by noon Saturday.

The lawsuit was filed about the same time Scott asked state law enforcement officials to investigate the Broward and Palm Beach voting operation.

Gretl Plessinger, a spokeswoman for the FDLE, said the agency would follow up on the governor’s request.

Scott has a narrow lead over incumbent Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson and the race may be headed to a recount. His lead narrowed as final ballots in heavily Democratic Broward and Palm Beach counties were counted Wednesday and Thursday.

No one answered at Snipes’ office late Thursday. Nelson campaign spokesman Dan McLaughlin issued a statement saying that all votes should be counted accurately and that Scott’s action “appears to be politically motivated and borne out of desperation.”

This story has been corrected to show that Gov. Scott has asked, not ordered, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to investigate elections offices in Palm Beach and Broward counties.

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8:45 p.m.

Florida Republican Gov. Rick Scott is accusing election officials in two counties of trying to thwart the will of the voters, as recounts seem likely for several statewide races.

Scott said at a news conference Thursday night that he is asking the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to investigate elections offices in Broward and Palm Beach counties.

Gretl Plessinger, a spokeswoman for the FDLE, said the agency would follow up on the governor’s request.

Under Florida law, a recount is mandatory if the winning candidate’s margin is less than 0.5 percentage points.

Scott, a Republican, is running for U.S. Senate and held a 0.21 percentage lead over Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson on Thursday afternoon. Republican gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis held a 0.47 percentage point lead over Democrat Andrew Gillum. Candidates for the Florida Cabinet position of agriculture commissioner where separated by less than 500 votes out of more than 8 million cast.

This item has been corrected to show Gov. Scott has asked, not ordered, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to investigate elections offices in Palm Beach and Broward counties.

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4:45 p.m.

The Associated Press is closely monitoring the race for governor in Florida, where election officials continue to count absentee ballots.

AP on Tuesday called the election for Republican Ron DeSantis over Democrat Andrew Gillum. DeSantis holds a lead of 38,613 votes out of more than 8.2 million ballots counted — a margin of 0.47 percentage points.

Under Florida law, a recount is mandatory if the margin of the winning candidate is less than 0.5 percentage points when the first unofficial count is verified Saturday by Florida’s secretary of state.

Should that count show DeSantis with a margin of less than 0.5 percentage points, triggering a recount, AP will retract its call for DeSantis. It is AP policy not to call a race that is facing a recount.

If the race proceeds to a recount, no new call will be made until the recount is complete and the results of the election are certified by Florida officials.

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1:15 p.m.

Democrat Andrew Gillum’s campaign now says it’s prepared for a possible recount in the Florida governor race that he conceded to Republican Ron DeSantis on Tuesday night.

In a statement Thursday, Gillum’s campaign says it underestimated the ballots that still needed to be counted when he conceded.

The campaign says it’s monitoring the situation and preparing for a possible state-mandated recount.

Florida law requires a recount in races in which the winning margin is 0.5 percent or less, unless the trailing candidate says in writing that he or she doesn’t want a recount. Canvassing boards conduct the recount by running ballots through vote tabulation machines.

As of Wednesday morning, DeSantis led Gillum by 43,039 votes out of nearly 8.2 million cast, or a difference of 0.526 of a percentage point.

Associated Press

Associated Press

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