Lawyers for Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) on Tuesday temporarily dismissed a lawsuit asking a judge to force the Palm Beach County sheriff and Florida state law enforcement officials to impound voting equipment amid an ongoing recount in the state’s closely watched Senate race.
The move came after Palm Beach Circuit Judge Krista Marx said she did not have the authority to order Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw to impound and secure the equipment because he was not a party in the lawsuit.
“How do I order a nonparty to do anything?” Marx asked, later adding: If [Bradshaw] chooses to sit with the parties and hammer out some kind of agreement with regard to what he is willing to do … then I will be happy to sign that.”
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A lawyer for incumbent Sen. Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William NelsonNASA, SpaceX and the private-public partnership that caused the flight of the Crew Dragon Lobbying world The most expensive congressional races of the last decade MORE (D-Fla.) also filed a motion to intervene in Scott’s lawsuit on Tuesday.
Scott’s Senate campaign filed a similar lawsuit in Broward County on Sunday, but Florida Circuit Chief Judge Jack Tuter on Monday rejected the request for law enforcement officials to impound and secure the equipment when not in use.
But the judge agreed to add three sheriff’s deputies to the current group of law enforcement officials overseeing the recount process in Broward, saying that there needs to be “an additional layer of confidence” as votes are tallied.
The Senate race between Scott and Nelson has become increasingly bitter in recent days after late vote returns from Broward and Palm Beach counties showed Scott’s lead evaporating.
Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner (R) ordered a recount in the race on Saturday after unofficial results showed Scott and Nelson separated by less than 13,000 votes — a margin of about 0.15 percentage points.
Nelson’s campaign has also filed a lawsuit challenging how county officials evaluate provisional ballots. A hearing in that case is scheduled for Wednesday.
Scott and Republicans have suggested elections fraud has taken place in Democrat-heavy South Florida while claiming that Nelson and Democrats are trying to “steal” the election.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the Department of State have said that they have received no credible allegations of fraud or criminal activity.