The Florida Department of Law Enforcement said Friday that it is not investigating allegations of fraud levied against Broward County elections officials by Governor Rick Scott, the Republican Senate candidate, despite Scott’s claim to have ordered such an investigation.
“Right now, FDLE is working with DOS and will investigate any allegations of criminal activity or fraud. This morning FDLE communicated with Department of State and they indicated at this time, they had no allegations of fraud,” a Florida Department of Law Enforcement spokeswoman told National Review. “Florida law gives the Governor the ability to direct an investigation in writing to our executive director (Florida Statute 943.03). We haven’t received a letter at this time.”
Scott announced Thursday that he’d ordered the department to open an investigation into the lack of transparency surrounding the vote count in Broward and Palm Beach Counties. Scott, however, has not formalized that request.
Scott was leading incumbent Democratic senator Bill Nelson by more than 50,000 votes as polls closed Tuesday night, but that margin has closed to roughly 15,000 votes as the Broward County Board of Elections continues to report previously uncounted mail-in absentee ballots three days after the election.
Board of Elections supervisor Brenda Snipes’s refusal to disclose the number of uncounted absentee ballots her office received has prompted widespread Republican criticism as well as a legal challenge, filed by Scott’s campaign, alleging Snipes is in violation of a Florida law that requires election officials to report the number of absentee ballots received within 30 minutes of polls closing.
Snipes was found guilty in 2016 of prematurely destroying absentee ballots related to a lawsuit filed against her office. She was again found guilty of violating election law in February, when a judge ruled that she’d opened mail-in ballots prematurely.
President Trump criticized Broward County officials in a series of Friday tweets, as well as in comments made to reporters Friday morning.
“All of a sudden they are finding votes out of nowhere,” Trump told reporters at the White House, adding that he is confident Scott won the contest “by a comfortable margin.”
Nelson has retained veteran Democratic operative and attorney Marc Elias to litigate the legally mandated recount the race appears headed for on his behalf. In a conference call with reporters Thursday, Elias said he was certain that enough previously uncounted mail-in ballots would emerge in the coming days to erase Scott’s margin of victory.