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Florida Gov. Rick Scott says he will recuse himself from certifying results of his Senate election

Scott's campaign noted that he also recused himself from certifying the results of his gubernatorial re-election in 2014.
Image: Rick Scott
Florida Gov. Rick Scott, who is locked in a contentious recount effort to unseat Sen. Bill Nelson, a Democrat, arrives for a meeting with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and GOP senators-elect in Washington on Wednesday.J. Scott Applewhite / AP

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Republican Gov. Rick Scott said Wednesday that he will recuse himself from certifying the results of his hotly contested Senate race.

A lawyer for Scott told a federal judge at a hearing Wednesday morning that the governor will not participate in the Elections Canvassing Commission, a three-member panel that certifies election results in state, federal and multicounty races. The panel is slated to meet on Tuesday.

Scott is trying to unseat Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson, and the two have been locked in a contentious recount effort since Election Day.

NBC News has not made a call in the race. As of Tuesday afternoon, Scott leads Nelson 50.1 percent to 49.9 percent, with a 12,562 vote margin.

Scott had faced increasing pressure to remove himself from the process. On Tuesday, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Nelson called on Scott to recuse himself from any position of oversight involving the recount, arguing that Scott "can't possibly be trusted to be neutral and fair arbiter as votes are tallied."

Scott later confirmed his recusal in a tweet.

"I recused myself from certifying results on the Elections Canvassing Commission in 2014, and I will do so again this year. This is nothing new," he said. "Bill Nelson is confused and doesn't even know how Florida works — I have no role in supervising/overseeing the ongoing recount process."

Republicans such as Scott and President Donald Trump have charged Democrats with trying to "steal" the election, and both have made unsubstantiated claims that widespread voter fraud could be taking place in Democratic-leaning counties. On the contrary, election observers and law enforcement have said that, so far, there is no evidence of widespread fraud or forged ballots in the state.

The League of Women Voters of Florida and Common Cause filed a lawsuit on Monday seeking to remove Scott from any official role in the electoral process.

Scott's campaign, however, noted that the lawsuits are insignificant because he also recused himself from certifying his 2014 re-election as governor, as did fellow board members who were also on the ballot.

Scott has the authority to appoint someone to take his place on the commission. That announcement is expected later Wednesday.