As the week closes out in the Florida recount legal battle for the Senate and governor's races, most of the filings in federal court have been ruled on and there remains one more in state court that we are watching closely from Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson's team, which is attempting to argue that all 588,000-plus ballots in Palm Beach County for the Senate race should be hand recounted. It's unclear how that ruling will come down, but it’s being heard today.
Here are the week’s top cases, how they were ruled on and why it matters. These may change and more cases could be added but here is the current state of play:
Democratic Executive Committee of Florida vs. FL Secretary of State Ken Detzner
The issue: Signature matching on vote-by-mail, absentee, and provisional ballots.
The ruling: In favor of Democrats — signature matching deadline is extended until Saturday at 5 p.m. Republican lawyers filed an appeal in circuit court, which was then denied.
What does it mean? About 4,000 voters whose ballots were rejected due to signature matching issues now have an opportunity to “cure” or rectify those issues so that their vote may be counted.
Vote Vets, DNC, DSCC vs. Detzner
The issue: Deadlines for vote-by mail ballots and whether they should be counted based on when they are received by counties OR when they are postmarked (current rule says when they are received).
The ruling: None yet.
What does it mean? If a judge were to rule that ballots should be counted based on when they are post-marked, not when they are received, it would put thousands more votes into play statewide.
DSCC v. Detzner
The issue: How voter intent is judged during a hand recount.
The ruling: Judge Mark Walker said rules about voter intent — consistency and “magic words” — are Constitutional, a decision that went against the Democratic side.
What does it mean? For voters who didn’t fill out the ballot correctly, consistent use of X’s, O’s, stars, etc. throughout a ballot shows a clear voter intent, as does explicitly writing “Vote for [Candidate]”.
DSCC v. Detzner
The issue: Extending deadlines for counties to complete their machine recounts
The ruling: The judge denied Democrats' request for counties to get more time for their machine recounts. This case was filed and decided on before Thursday’s 3 p.m. deadline for counties to finish their machine recounts.
What does it mean? Counties, like Palm Beach, and others who didn’t finish their machine recount by the 3 p.m. Thursday deadline were not given more time to do so by the court.
League of Women Voters and Common Cause vs. Rick Scott
The issue: That GOP Gov. Rick Scott should recuse himself in his capacity as governor from anything having to do with the recount process. (Reminder: Scott did recuse himself on Wednesday, as he had done in his previous 2014 election, kind of rendering this case moot).
The ruling: Request rejected — but with some choice words for how Rick Scott has conducted himself during this process. Judge Walker described the governor as “careening perilously close to a due process violation” because of his press conference held in front of the FL Gov’s mansion on Nov.8th.
What does it mean? Not much. Scott is an elected official who is running for office, so he can’t do much about the fact that he’s governor while running for Senate. And he already recused himself before this case was heard, so tangible action was kind of impossible from the court.