Wed | Dec 19, 2018

Federal judge: Florida is 'laughing-stock of the world'

Published:Friday | November 16, 2018 | 12:19 AM
Canvassing Board chair Judge Betsy Benson, (left) and board member Judge Deborah Carpenter-Toye, show political lawyers one of the ballots that was damaged during the recount, that will need to be duplicated and then recounted, at the Broward County Supervisor of Elections office during a recount on Wednesday, November 14 in Lauderhill, Florida.

TALLAHASSEE, (AP):

A federal judge slammed Florida on Thursday for repeatedly failing to anticipate election problems, and said the state law on recounts appears to violate the US Supreme Court ruling that decided the presidency in 2000.

"We have been the laughing stock of the world, election after election, and we chose not to fix this," U.S. District Judge Mark Walker said in court.

Walker vented his anger at state lawmakers but also Palm Beach County officials, saying they should have made sure they had enough equipment in place to handle this kind of a recount. Walker also said he's not happy about the idea of extending recount deadlines without limit.

The overarching problem was created by the Florida Legislature, which Walker said passed a recount law that appears to run afoul of the 2000 Bush V Gore decision, by locking in procedures that don't allow for potential problems.

A total of six election-related lawsuits are pending in Tallahassee. Earlier Thursday, Walker ordered that voters be given until 5 p.m. Saturday to show a valid identification and fix their ballots if they haven't been counted due to mismatched signatures.

 

RECOUNTS DEADLINE

 

Florida's 67 counties faced a 3 p.m. Thursday deadline to finish recounts that could determine the next senator and governor in one of America's top political battlegrounds. Republicans said they would immediately appeal.

State officials testified that nearly 4,000 mailed-in ballots were set aside because local officials decided the signature on the envelope didn't match the signature on file. If these voters can prove their identity, their votes will now be counted and included in final official returns due from each county by noon on Sunday.

Meanwhile, the ongoing recount threatens to stretch into the weekend. The election supervisor in Palm Beach County, a Democratic stronghold, warned they may not meet yesterday's initial deadline. US Senator Bill Nelson and Democrats want that looming deadline set aside, and other lawsuits could lead to more delays.

More than a week after election day, an immediate resolution seems remote.