A federal judge on Saturday blocked Florida Governor Rick Scott’s attempt to throw out tens of thousands of mail-in ballots, then publicly reprimanded him, several news outlets reported. U.S. District Judge Mark Walker issued a blistering caution to Scott’s top election official on a lawsuit about vote-by-mail ballots.
According to ABC News, the judge accused Governor Scott appointed Secretary of State Ken Detzner of “delaying a hearing on the lawsuit, so that he could use every second available to run out the clock,” . That means, there would not be enough time to address the lawsuit. Then, Judge Walker said the governor’s man, Detzner, was in effect committing an “undeclared war’ on Florida voters’ rights.
Florida’s Democratic Party filed a lawsuit asserting that thousands of vote-by-mail ballots were rejected each election, because the voter’s ballot envelope and the registration file signatures do not match. Without a signature, Florida law says that a vote-by-mail ballot cannot be counted.
County canvassing boards rejected more than 23,000 ballots, according to the lawsuit, according to the report.
While voters who forget to sign their ballots are given the opportunity to fix that, voters whose signatures don’t match aren’t, and they should be given the same opportunity to “cure” any signature problems, according to the lawsuit.
In court documents, the Secretary of State’s Office argued that county canvassing boards are responsible for fixing any problems, not the agency.
The Tallahassee, Florida judge said he will skip the hearing that was scheduled for Monday and make a decision on the lawsuit. In his order, the judge said:
“This court will not allow the Florida Secretary of State — a high-level officer of the State of Florida — to take a knee and deprive Florida citizens of their most precious right.”
The judge scheduled a hearing Monday, after the lawsuit was filed earlier in October. The Secretary of State’s Office asked for time to respond to the lawsuit, one week. Later, the office told the judge that it had no witnesses or evidence for that hearing.
“If one were skeptical, it would appear that the Florida Secretary of State requested as much time as he felt he could possibly justify so that he could use every second available to run out the clock. And by wasting a week on his scintillating response, he quite nearly succeeded,” the judge wrote.
The judge issued a preliminary injunction to allow Florida Democratic Party count the votes.
Nice try, Governor Scott.
H/T: ABC News.