Democrats accuse Republicans of threatening Florida vote recount officials

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Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson on Tuesday accused Republicans , including President Donald Trump , of "bullying" and "threatening" election officials to get them to halt the recount of the ballots in two key Florida midterm election races.

The Senate and gubernatorial races in the southeastern state on Nov. 6 were very close, with the GOP garnering less than 0.5 percent more votes than the Democratic candidates in the initial count of the ballots - although that preliminary count did not include thousands of votes that had been cast by mail or where the ballots could not be read by the vote counting machines and thus must be counted by hand.

With the races so close, Florida law mandates that automatic recounts must be performed to ensure that all valid votes are counted.

However, Republicans - beginning with the president and Florida's Republican governor (and Senate candidate), Rick Scott - have accused Democrats of fraud in the vote count to ensure that Nelson is reelected and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum , the current mayor of Tallahassee, the state capital, win their races.

In remarks to the press, Schumer and Nelson on Tuesday insisted at the US Capitol that Scott is using his position as governor to exert pressure to stop the recount of ballots and asked him to recuse himself from involvement in the recount, given that he is one of the candidates whose races are still in question.

Nelson told reporters that Scott had been using his office as governor to try and "undermine" the voting process, adding that it is obvious that Scott cannot supervise the procedures in a fair and impartial way.

He added that the vote-counting process has a single goal: to ensure that each legal vote is counted to protect each Florida voter's right to participate in elections.

Meanwhile, Schumer said that attempts to halt the recounts by both Trump and Scott are the result of their fear that - once all the votes are counted - Floridians will have elected Gillum to the governorship and re-elected Nelson to the US Senate, despite the fact that both Scott and Gillum's GOP rival Ron DeSantis declared victory on the basis of early returns showing them with narrow leads.

Those already narrow leads have dwindled, however, as the vote count has proceeded, although it is not yet clear whether the Democratic candidates actually won.

Scott has filed lawsuits against election officials in Broward and Palm Beach Counties - both heavily Democratic areas - over the delays in counting the votes, and at a press conference he suggested that "fraud" was being committed, although state authorities have said that no evidence of that has been reported.

After learning that Florida was going to proceed with vote recounts, Trump used his Twitter account to claim, without providing any proof, that Democrats were attempting to "steal" both elections.

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