Top Florida GOP officials slam state police for not investigating Democratic elections officers during recount

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi and Gov. Rick Scott
(Image credit: Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

As Florida begins its recount in three close races — governor, Senate, and agriculture commissioner — some things have changed since the contentious 2000 presidential recount, like uniform voting and vote-counting rules, and some things haven't: Politics, lawsuits, and a focus on the Democratic strongholds of Broward and Palm Beach counties. Gov. Rick Scott (R), whose lead in the Senate race has shrunk to 12,562 votes as Florida's most populous counties tallied their votes, has leveled unsubstantiated claims of fraud, and he and state Attorney General Pam Bondi (R) are leaning hard on state police to involve themselves in the recount.

On Thursday, Scott said he was asking the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to investigate election officials in Broward and Palm Beach Counties. The FDLE declined, explaining Friday that there were no credible fraud allegations. On Saturday, the Department of State, which Scott oversees, said its observers in Broward had seen "no evidence of criminal activity." On Sunday, Bondi told FDLE Commissioner Rick Swearingen in a letter she is "deeply troubled" he is not pursuing any investigation into Broward and Palm Beach election officials. In a separate letter, Bondi told Secretary of State Ken Detzner, a Republican Scott appointee, to report any "indication creating a reasonable suspicion of potential criminal activity" to law enforcement.

Also Sunday, Scott's campaign filed emergency motions requesting that voting machines and ballots in Broward and Palm Beach counties be turned over to the FDLE and sheriff's deputies when votes aren't being counted. State Democratic Party director Juan Peñalosa criticized Scott's move to "seize ballots and impound voting machines," comparing him to "Latin American dictators" in Cuba and Venezuela.

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All counties must turn in their recount totals by Thursday at 3 p.m., and there will be a hand recount for any races separated by less than 0.25 percent. Final results will be certified on Nov. 20 by Florida's Elections Canvassing Commission, a three-member panel that includes Scott and two Cabinet members.

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Peter Weber

Peter Weber is a senior editor at, and has handled the editorial night shift since the website launched in 2008. A graduate of Northwestern University, Peter has worked at Facts on File and The New York Times Magazine. He speaks Spanish and Italian and plays bass and rhythm cello in an Austin rock band. Follow him on Twitter.