FORT LAUDERDALE, Florida—President Donald Trump demanded on Monday that Florida shut down its recount of last week’s election results, which is mandated under state law, and suggested that the final tally shouldn’t be trusted unless his preferred candidates are declared the winners.
“The Florida Election should be called in favor of Rick Scott and Ron DeSantis in that large numbers of new ballots showed up out of nowhere, and many ballots are missing or forged,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “An honest vote count is no longer possible—ballots massively infected. Must go with Election Night!”
Unofficial returns that were due to the secretary of state’s office by Saturday showed Gov. Rick Scott (R) ahead of Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) by 12,562 votes, or 0.15 percent, and former Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) ahead of Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum (D) by 33,684 votes, or 0.4 percent, in the gubernatorial race. State law requires a machine recount when the margin between two candidates is less than 0.5 percent, and a manual recount when that margin is within 0.25 percent.
Trump, who campaigned vigorously for both Scott and DeSantis, did not provide evidence that ballots are “massively infected,” and a spokeswoman for the Florida secretary of state’s office said officials have found “no evidence of criminal activity,” as Scott and others have suggested.
The recount, which began in earnest on Saturday, has been focused on the Democratic bastions of Broward and Palm Beach counties, whose election officials met in recent days to determine whether certain provisional ballots were valid. Last week, a judge sided with Scott’s campaign in a lawsuit which alleged that Broward County officials were violating open-records laws by not disclosing how many votes remained uncounted after election night.
Those tensions were on full display Monday morning outside the voting tabulation center in Broward County, where a group of “Bikers for Trump” gathered to show support for Scott and DeSantis. One of the demonstrators used his Dodge pick-up truck to blast audio of Trump’s speeches from his rallies.
Both the Gillum and Nelson campaigns have suggested that Trump and his Republican allies are “afraid” of seeing every vote tallied. In response to Trump’s tweet, Gillum wrote: “You sound nervous.” Marc Elias, the veteran Democratic elections attorney who is representing Nelson’s campaign, added: “BREAKING: No Floridian should have their rightful vote denied because of mail/post office delays. We are suing to protect these ballots.”
Scott has declared victory over Nelson, but Nelson has said he believes he will be victorious after the recount. Gillum, meanwhile, conceded to DeSantis on election night, but told reporters on Saturday that he was “replacing” that concession “with an unapologetic and uncompromised call to count every vote.”
On Monday afternoon, a Florida judge denied all three lawsuits filed by Scott’s campaign on Sunday, one of which alleged that Brenda Snipes, the Broward County elections supervisor, illegally counted votes after the Saturday deadline to submit unofficial results. The other suits asked the court to seize voting machines in both Broward and Palm Beach counties after the recount is complete.