Employees at the Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections office sort ballot pages during a recount on Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2018, in West Palm Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

The Latest: Judge: Florida is 'laughing-stock of the world'

November 15, 2018 - 10:26 am

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — The Latest on Florida's election recount (all times local):

10:15 a.m.

A federal judge is sharply criticizing Florida legislators and elections officials in Palm Beach County for the state's chronic recount issues.

During a hearing on whether to extend the 3 p.m. Thursday deadline in the state's recount for a U.S. Senate seat the governor's race, U.S. District Judge Mark Walker noted that Florida has a history of "razor thin" elections, yet Palm Beach County delayed purchasing enough voting machines to handle a recount.

Walker said Florida has been "the laughing stock of the world election after election and we chose not to fix this."

The judge also said that the recount procedure in Florida law is written in a way that doesn't allow for possible problems. He suggested that runs against past federal court rulings, including the Bush v. Gore ruling that decided the 2000 presidential recount.

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7:45 a.m.

A federal judge is giving thousands of Florida voters until this weekend to fix their ballots if they haven't been counted due to mismatched signatures.

U.S. District Judge Mark Walker ruled early Thursday that current Florida law on mail-in ballots places a substantial burden on voters. The ruling comes as Florida is wrapping up a recount in three statewide races.

Walker did not go along with a request from Democrats to count all ballots with mismatched signatures. Instead he ordered that local election officials give voters until 5 p.m. on Saturday to correct the problem so that their ballots can be counted.

State officials testified in court that nearly 4,000 ballots have already been rejected because local canvassing boards decided the signature that was mailed-in doesn't match the signature on file.

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3:01 a.m.

Florida's bumpy recount election reaches a pivotal point Thursday as most counties across the state complete reviews that could determine the next senator and governor in one of America's top political battlegrounds.

Barring a dramatic last minute court-mandated extension, Florida counties face a 3 p.m. deadline to wrap up their machine recounts. Some counties have warned that they may not be able to make the deadline.

The machine recount may essentially bring a conclusion to the governor's race. Republican Ron DeSantis leads Democrat Andrew Gillum by 0.41 percentage points in unofficial results, but the election won't be certified until Tuesday.

Unofficial results in the U.S. Senate race have Republican Gov. Rick Scott ahead of Nelson by 0.14 percentage points, which will almost certainly send it to another recount that will last through the weekend.

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