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Dominic Holden @dominicholden
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Florida debacle update thread — State court Judge Jack Tuter just ordered 1-hour recess in the Broward County case over impounding ballots and voting equipment, telling 17 lawyers representing the many parties to come back with a mutually agreeable deal.
Impounding ballots isn't that unusual, but winning this case would give Republicans, Trump, and Rick Scott more fuel for their claims there's malfeasance, corruption in the counting. They'd likely say a judge had to stop Democrats from stealing the election.
But Tuter indicated he can’t issue an injunction to impound ballots yet, since there’s no evidence presented, nor does he seem to this it's necessary. He proposed they could agree to let 3 sheriff’s deputies monitor election headquarters for “an additional layer of confidence.”
Tuter proposed 1 deputy in ballot-counting room, 1 at door, & 1 supervisor — none of whom would report into the current deputies are already at elections office monitoring the site.
Despite the legal wrangling, this is looks nakedly political.
The main argument of Rick Scott’s campaign lawyer, Jason Zimmerman, isn’t that there’s evidence ballots aren't secure or there's fraud (as Scott claimed). It’s that the public has lost confidence.
“We have a trust issue in this county. We need something so we can have trust in this process,” he said, adding people can't trust election head Brenda Snipes because she didn’t hand over records till judge ordered her to Friday. “A public wrong is preventable by an injunction.”
But Eugene Pettis, lawyer for Snipes (an elected official in the Dem county with a history of big flubs), said confidence is shaken because Scott has misled the public — Scott claimed liberals are trying to steal the election, commiting fraud, etc.
Ballots are already under lock and key, with check-in, check-out systems, and everything is guarded by sheriff’s deputies and private security, Pettis said. He said no one has alleged fraud to canvassing board.
Although Republicans say Snipes broke law when she only handed over records after a judge’s order on Friday, she only had 24 hours, Pettis added. He said she was busy counting the election — and ultimately complied, disclosing even more info than required, pretty quickly.
“You know what undermines voter confidence is claiming some sort of behavior without any evidence,’ Pettis said.
Moreover, Pettis contends that a court order impounding the ballots would lend credence to idea that there's malfeasance by Snipes, without evidence, and Republicans would manipulate a decision to argue Snipes was breaking the law.
Judge Tuter seems sympathetic to that argument, while saying more public confidence would help, and he urged Snipes to be more transparent, with updates every few hours. So he sent all the lawyers to hash out a security agreement that is NOT an impound and come back around 1pm.
Judge Tutor before the recess — “I am not casting and dispersions on any officials right now. I am going to leave it to you and see if you can reach an agreement.”
The lawyers are returning from recess, so presumably they’ve reached an agreement.
JUST IN — Judge Jack Tuter has effectively denied Rick Scott’s request to impound ballots in Broward County, FL, instead saying from bench he supports agreement among parties to add 3 more sheriffs deputies at the elections office. He says an order is forthcoming.
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