Election officials in Palm Beach County, Fla. will have an extra five days to complete a machine recount of votes in four closely contested races after a Leon County judge extended a key deadline for submitting election results to Nov. 20.
Under Florida law, the state Elections Canvassing Commission must certify election results no later than Nov. 20. The ruling is likely to delay that process, leaving Floridians wondering who their next senator, governor and agriculture commissioner will be.
The ruling, reported by The Palm Beach Post, came in a lawsuit filed by Jim Bonfiglio, a Democrat locked in a tight contest for a state House seat. That lawsuit asked the judge to extend the deadline for vote reporting in his race against Republican Mike Caruso.
But Circuit Judge Karen Gievers moved to extend the recount deadline for the state’s three closely watched statewide races, as well, Bonfiglio told The Palm Beach Post on Tuesday.
The ruling is likely to prolong the bitter recount fights in Florida for several days more.
Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner, a Republican, ordered recounts in the Senate race, as well as the contests for governor and agriculture commissioner, on Saturday. Florida state law requires that the results of initial machine recounts be submitted by Nov. 15. If a hand recount is required after that, local officials would have until Nov. 18 to submit results.
The highest-profile battle is in the Senate race between Florida’s Republican Gov. Rick Scott and incumbent Sen. Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William NelsonNASA, SpaceX and the private-public partnership that caused the flight of the Crew Dragon Lobbying world The most expensive congressional races of the last decade MORE (D-Fla.), both of whom have filed a flurry of lawsuits in state and federal courts.
Scott and his allies have raised the prospect of rampant elections fraud, particularly in Democrat-heavy Broward and Palm Beach counties, and have accused Nelson and Democrats of trying to “steal” the election.
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Those claims have so far gone unsupported. Both the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) and the Department of State have said that they have not received any credible allegations of fraud or criminal activity.
Meanwhile, Nelson’s campaign is challenging how Florida election officials count and evaluate ballots, filing lawsuits in federal court within days of one another. Democrats have suggested that current practices amount to voter disenfranchisement and have sought to cast the recount as an opportunity to ensure that every lawfully cast ballot is counted.
–Updated at 5 p.m.