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Matt Caldwell Goes To Court As Ballot Count Continues In Broward County

Associated Press
Florida Republican candidate for Commissioner of Agriculture Matt Caldwell speaks as Gov. Rick Scott listens during a rally Sept. 6, 2018, in Orlando.

Matt Caldwell, the Republican candidate for agriculture commissioner, and his campaign filed a lawsuit Friday against Broward County Supervisor of Elections Brenda Snipes that calls for the rejection of all vote-by-mail ballots received at the elections office after 7 p.m. Tuesday.

The lawsuit, filed in Broward County circuit court, said Snipes hasn’t released numbers of ballots that came in after the deadline and asks the court to determine if Snipes illegally included ballots after polls closed Tuesday.

On election night, Caldwell declared victory as numbers posted by the Division of Elections showed him ahead. But as county supervisors continued to review ballots, the margin narrowed and by Thursday afternoon flipped in favor of Fried. The Democrat was up by a little more than 3,000 votes Friday afternoon, with a recount expected to be required after unofficial results are sent to the state Division of Elections by mid-day Saturday.

“On Tuesday, the voters of Florida elected Matt Caldwell as our next commissioner of agriculture,” Caldwell spokeswoman Danielle Alvarez said in a statement. “We are committed to upholding the will of the voters and protecting the integrity of Florida’s electoral process from those seeking to erode our democracy.”

The lawsuit came a day after Gov. Rick Scott’s U.S. Senate campaign and the National Republican Senatorial Committee filed a lawsuit against Snipes that contended the Broward elections office was unwilling to disclose records revealing how many people had voted, how many ballots had been canvassed and how many remained to be canvassed.

In addition to the lawsuit, Caldwell filed a public-records request seeking vote counts and any communications between Snipes, her executive team, her staff and any third parties talking to the county about counting ballots.

He also is seeking an injunction that would limit the Broward elections office to counting only vote-by-mail ballots received by 7 p.m. Tuesday and to void those received after that time.