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Judge Rejects Bill Nelson’s Recount Deadline Extension Push Right Before Florida County Misses Deadline

Evie Fordham on November 15, 2018

A federal judge rejected a push by Democratic Florida Sen. Bill Nelson to extend the machine recount deadline in a Thursday ruling in which the judge labeled Florida a “laughingstock” because of its election failures.

“We have been the laughingstock of the world, election after election, and we chose not to fix this,” U.S. District Judge Mark Walker said in the ruling, which he handed down on the same afternoon that Florida’s Palm Beach County missed the machine recount deadline at 3 p.m. Thursday.

Walker decided that Florida’s 67 counties will still have to submit machine recount results at 3 p.m. Thursday, reported the Associated Press. However, Walker ruled earlier Thursday morning to grant 4,000 Florida voters an extension until 5 p.m. Saturday to verify their mail-in and provisional ballots if they were rejected for signature mismatches.

Palm Beach missed the Thursday afternoon deadline despite what its elections supervisor called a “heroic effort,” reported Treasure Coast Newspapers.

Palm Beach was reportedly missing ballots for the machine recount for Florida’s Senate and governor races on Thursday afternoon.

Walker blasted Florida leaders including Palm Beach officials and Florida state lawmakers Thursday, reported the AP. He blamed the Florida Legislature for passing what he said was a recount law that may not accord with the Supreme Court’s decision on Bush v. Gore in 2000, according to the AP.

If the candidates are within 0.5 percent of one another after the machine recount, Florida has until noon Sunday to perform a recount by hand, reported The Wall Street Journal.

Walker, an Obama appointee, has been in the spotlight for ruling against Republican Florida governor and Senate hopeful Rick Scott’s policies before. Walker decided in March that Scott and his cabinet had to replace Florida’s 150-year-old voting rights restoration process for felons, reported the Tampa Bay Times. That led to a state referendum that restored voting rights to nearly 1.5 million convicted felons on Nov. 6.

Both Florida Sens. Nelson and Marco Rubio, a Republican, recommended Walker to the federal bench in 2012, according to The Miami Herald.

Scott’s margin over Nelson makes it “mathematically impossible” for the Democrat to regain the seat, Scott campaign spokesperson Chris Hartline told The Daily Caller News Foundation Wednesday. Scott led by roughly 12,000 votes, according to WSJ Thursday.

Scott traveled to Washington, D.C., this week to attend the Senate’s freshman orientation.

Another high-profile Florida race is also going through a recount after Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum withdrew his concession to Republican candidate Ron DeSantis Saturday.

President Donald Trump demanded that Florida call the races for Scott and DeSantis on Twitter Monday.

“The Florida Election should be called in favor of Rick Scott and Ron DeSantis in that large numbers of new ballots showed up out of nowhere, and many ballots are missing or forged. An honest vote count is no longer possible-ballots massively infected. Must go with Election Night!” Trump wrote on Twitter.

Follow Evie on Twitter @eviefordham.

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