Third critical Florida race tainted by Broward SOE sparks lawsuit as boxes of ballots magically appear

Amid all the elections shenanigans in South Florida, where extracurricular counting in Broward County has yielded more than 77,000 votes after Tuesday night’s election, one Republican has already seen his victory wiped out.

While all the attention has been on the Senate race involving current Gov. Rick Scott and Democrat incumbent Bill Nelson, and the governor’s race between Ron DeSantis and Tallahassee’s Democratic Mayor Andrew Gillum, Republican Matt Caldwell has already seen his race reversed and he’s fighting back.

Democratic Nikki Fried (L), Republican Matt Caldwell

Caldwell, running for agricultural commissioner in the Sunshine State, went to bed Tuesday night with a comfortable lead of about 40,000 votes — as of today, he trails Democratic candidate Nikki Fried by 3,120 votes, according to The News Press.

Following the lead of Gov. Scott, who took his own legal action in a pair of lawsuits, Caldwell filed a lawsuit Friday against the Broward County Supervisor of Elections, the Fort Myers newspaper reported.

Filed in the 17th judicial circuit, Caldwell’s lawyers are “asking the court to protect the integrity of all ballots and all public records relating to the election for Commissioner of Agriculture.”

After all, a judge ruled in May that Broward County Supervisor of Elections Brenda Snipes violated state and federal laws by destroying ballots from a 2016 Congressional race too soon — the ballots were the subject of a lawsuit against the office involving a Democratic primary race won by Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz.

The court is also being asked to determine if ballots were included in the vote count after polls closed on Nov. 6.

“Over the course of the last two and half days, the Broward supervisor has continued to magically find boxes of ballots that have potentially altered the course of the race,” Caldwell said Friday, according to the News Press. “And after all that time, we still cannot get a straight answer as to where they came from, when they were cast. We just heard there is another magical box of 2,100 ballots they supposedly found here.”

Adding to the suspicious nature of events, Caldwell’s opponent just happens to live in Broward County.

“The fact that it’s my opponent’s home county and you continue to have ballots just be found at random times without any explanation I think it just undermines the faith in the entire process and certainly leaves me doubtful about the current count that has been presented out there,” Caldwell said.

In Scott’s lawsuit, which spoke about a “lack of transparency,” a judge ruled on Friday afternoon that Snipes, who was refusing to say how many outstanding votes remained, violated state law and must hand over voter records.

“There is no serious person that looks at this and doesn’t suspect there is something incredibly wrong going here, and we’re going to get to the bottom of it by demanding answers through the court of law,” Caldwell said.

Meanwhile, Fried is ready to move on, having declared victory on Saturday ahead of an upcoming mandatory recount and announcing her transition team.

As expected.

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Tom Tillison

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