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Bill Nelson and Democrats file three new election lawsuits

The legal workload is rapidly multiplying for judges in federal court in Tallahassee.
FILE- In this Oct. 23, 2018, file photo shows Sen. Bill Nelson campaigns in Orlando. Republican Gov. Rick Scott is challenging Nelson. Florida will vote for governor, U.S. Senate, Cabinet seats, Congress and decide 12 ballot questions. (Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel via AP, File) FLORL302
Published Nov. 14, 2018
Updated Nov. 14, 2018

The lawsuits are flying in Florida's disputed U.S. Senate race.

Sen. Bill Nelson or the Democrats filed three new actions in federal court in Tallahassee Tuesday in addition to an earlier suit that seeks to invalidate a state law that voids mail ballots with signature matching problems.

One new lawsuit seeks to extend statewide machine and manual recounts beyond the "extraordinarily compressed" deadlines of Nov. 15 and Nov. 18. The lawsuit says existing state deadlines are "arbitrary and unrealistic," and will result in some ballots being recounted once, others twice and others three times.

A second lawsuit challenges the constitutionality of a voter intent standard in the state law that will be used to review undervotes and overvotes in the upcoming manual recounts in the races for Senate and agriculture commissioner.

The law includes a consistency provision that requires voters to display a pattern of similar markings in different races, which Democrats oppose.

"That makes no sense," said Marc Elias, Nelson's recount lawyer. "And it's not constitutional. We can't deny people a right to vote because they chose to put X's in some ovals, circle some names or fill in some names."

Several hundred thousands of those ballots will be reviewed manually by canvassing boards across the state.

Yet another lawsuit filed Tuesday by Democratic lawyers accuses multiple county supervisors of elections of refusing to preserve digital electronic ballot images as state law requires. Several Florida voters are named as plaintiffs and the defendants include more than a dozen supervisors, including those in Pinellas, Hillsborough and Pasco counties.

U.S. District Judge Mark Walker will hold a hearing at 1 p.m. Wednesday in the signature-mismatch case.

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