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FL-Sen: Democrat Bill Nelson files lawsuit to count mail-in ballots that arrived late

Senator Bill Nelson campaigns at the 65th Infantry Veterans Park on November 4, 2018 in Kissimmee Florida. Nelson filed a lawsuit to allow vote-by-mail ballots received after the deadline to be counted. (Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

Incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) has filed a lawsuit demanding that vote-by-mail ballots that arrived late still be counted in the 2018 midterm election.

Here's what you need to know

Nelson attorney Marc Elias argued that ballots should be counted as long as they were postmarked by Nov. 6.

According to the Florida's Department of State, “the voted ballot must be returned and received by the Supervisor of Elections no later than 7 p.m. on Election Day” in order to be counted.

The lawsuit argued that “Florida's 7 p.m. Election Day receipt deadline for vote by mail ballots burdens the right to vote of eligible voters.” If Nelson's team wins the lawsuit, any ballot received within 10 days of the election would be counted, as long as it was postmarked by Nov. 6.

Nelson also called for his Republican opponent, Gov. Rick Scott, to formally remove himself from “any role” in the recount process, saying in a video message that it is “obvious that Scott cannot oversee this process in a fair and impartial way.”

Scott, meanwhile, could be close to firing Broward County Election Supervisor Brenda Snipes, under whose oversight the election process in Broward has been plagued with problems.

Nelson's team has also sued the state of Florida, arguing that poll workers with “untrained opinions” should not have the authority to disqualify ballots based on  “whether signatures match.” On Friday, Elias told reporters that "this serves as an outright disenfranchisement and burden on the right to vote."

Former Democratic Congressman Patrick Murphy claimed in a tweet that his ballot had been among those disqualified for having an inconsistent signature.

Scott, meanwhile, has accused Nelson and Elias of trying to “steal” the election and called their efforts “sad and embarrassing.”

What about the recount?

Scott currently leads Nelson by only 0.14 percent of the vote. Any margin smaller than 0.25 results in an automatic recount by hand.

In the race for the governorship soon to be vacated by Scott, GOP Rep. Ron DeSantis leads his opponent, Democratic Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, by only 0.41 percent. This triggers an automatic recount since it's under the required half a percentage point, but it does not trigger a recount by hand.

What else?

Scott's campaign has successfully filed a lawsuit of his own. Scott sued Snipes, demanding that she disclose voting records in keeping with state law. On Friday, a judge ruled in favor of Scott.

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