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Rick Scott files lawsuit against Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections over recount

Posted at 6:00 PM, Nov 13, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-14 05:52:21-05

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. — As recounts are underway in the heated U.S. Senate race in Florida, Republican Governor Rick Scott filed a lawsuit against the Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections.

According to the complaint, Scott claims that the during the recount process, observers were not allowed into the recount room. A spokesman for Scott says that their office is requesting "all election observers -of both parties- be provided access to the same room where the ongoing recount process is taking place."

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Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections Craig Latimer tells ABC Action News they aren’t sure why Scott’s camp filed the suit.

“Our attorney has advised us that she’s read the statute and the rules and there is nowhere in it that authorizes a representative from a candidate or party to be inside the tabulation room where performing the recount,” Latimer said.  

Latimer went on to say that in the event of a manual recount the law clearly states that multiple representatives from each party will be allowed in the tabulation room to watch the process.  And, if that happens members will be granted access.

At times, the tiny room in the elections office was standing room only as citizen observers watched democracy in progress.

ABC Action News was in Manatee County observing the recount there.  All of the observers were required to be on the other side of the tabulation room behind the glass. At this point, Scott has not filed suit against Manatee or surrounding Tampa Bay counties. 

The general public can view the counting process from behind the glass windows. The people we spoke with said they felt they could see everything they needed to see.

“You don’t feel the need to be physically in the room?” ABC Action News reporter Michael Paluska asked observer Carolyn Guzzi.

“No. Because, you know why — because if too many people get involved the process won’t get done. The process will not get done. It’s good to observe and make them accountable,” Guzzi said.  

Latimer said he’s had no complaints from anyone in the public that they couldn’t observe the process.

“They are able to see the transport of all the ballots coming in and out,” Latimer said. “They can sit there and watch the operators scanning the ballots and if they are watching closely they can see it’s a very smooth process, methodical, we take our time.”

Election officials resume counting ballots Wednesday morning at 9 a.m.  They plan to have all of the ballots recounted before the Thursday deadline.