Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush added his voice to the growing number of Republicans calling for Brenda Snipes, the Broward supervisor of elections, to be removed from her post amid the controversy over the vote recount in Florida's pivotal races for governor and Senate.
“There is no question that Broward County Supervisor of Elections Brenda Snipes failed to comply with Florida law on multiple counts, undermining Floridians’ confidence in our electoral process,” Bush tweeted on Monday. “Supervisor Snipes should be removed from her office following the recounts.”
Along with Bush, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., has also suggested Snipes should be removed from office once the dust settles in the Florida races.
In Snipes’ Broward County, the recount was delayed for hours Sunday because of a problem with one of the tabulation machines. That prompted the Republican Party to accuse Snipes of "incompetence and gross mismanagement."
Broward officials faced further headaches after acknowledging the county mistakenly counted 22 absentee ballots that had been rejected. The problem seemed impossible to fix because dismissed ballots were mixed in with 205 legal ballots and Snipes said it would be unfair to throw out all the votes.
Gov. Rick Scott, the Republican candidate for Senate, filed suit against Snipes. He's seeking a court order for law enforcement agents to impound all voting machines, tallying devices and ballots "when not in use until such time as any recounts." The suit accused Snipes of repeatedly failing to account for the number of ballots left to be counted and failing to report results regularly as required by law.
Snipes defended the recount on Monday and called Scott’s lawsuit an attack on her “character.”
“I think the lawsuits disperse my character,” Snipes said. “I have to say this is the first time this office and I have been under attack. If we make mistakes, we own them.”
The court didn't immediately respond, though the outcry from Democrats was immediate.
Juan Penalosa, executive director of the Florida Democratic Party, accused Scott of "using his position to consolidate power by cutting at the very core of our democracy."
Unofficial results showed Republican former U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis ahead of Democratic Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum by 0.41 percentage points in the governor's contest. In the Senate race, Scott's lead over Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson was 0.14 percentage points.
State law requires a machine recount in races where the margin is less than 0.5 percentage points. Once completed, if the differences in any of the races are 0.25 percentage points or below, a hand recount will be ordered.
Republicans urged their Democratic opponents to give up and let the state to move on.
Gillum and Nelson insist that each vote should be counted and the process should take its course.
Both the state elections division, which Scott runs, and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement have said they have found no evidence of voter fraud.
That didn't stop protests outside Snipes' office, where a mostly Republican crowd gathered, holding signs, listening to country music and occasionally chanting "lock her up," referring to Snipes. A massive Trump 2020 flag flew over the parking lot and a Bikers For Trump group wore matching shirts. One protester wore a Hillary Clinton mask.
For some, the recounts bring back memories of the 2000 presidential recount, when it took more than five weeks for Florida to declare George W. Bush the victor over Vice President Al Gore by 537 votes, thus giving Bush the presidency.
In 2000, each county had its own voting system. Many used punch cards — voters poked out chads, leaving tiny holes in their ballots representing their candidates. Some voters, however, didn't fully punch out the presidential chad or gave it just a little push. Those hanging and dimpled chads had to be examined by the canvassing boards, a lengthy, tiresome and often subjective process that became fodder for late-night comedians.
Now the state requires all Florida counties to use ballots where voters use a pen to mark their candidate's name, much like a student taking a multiple-choice test, and the process for recounts is clearly spelled out.
Fox News’ Ivonne Amor and The Associated Press contributed to this report.