LAUDERHILL, FLA. (WSVN) - Protesters have gathered outside the headquarters for the Broward County Supervisor of Elections as the county works to finish counting an unspecified number of votes from the midterm elections.
Protesters carrying signs for Republicans Ron DeSantis and Gov. Rick Scott crowded the entrance to the Lauderhill building, Friday morning.
What originally started as a trio of protesters quickly grew into a group of about 200 people, voicing their outrage in the midst of three potential recounts in the Senate, Governor and State Agricultural Commission races.
Many could be heard chanting, “Lock her up!” and “Bye bye, Brenda!” referencing Broward’s supervisor of elections, Dr. Brenda Snipes, as they demanded election results.
Some protesters called for Snipes to be fired.
“This is voter fraud, and we’re not going to take it anymore,” yelled a protester.
Public officials were also on hand at the demonstration. U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., sharply criticized what he described as Broward elections officials’ poor handling of the official ballot count.
“We cannot allow over eight million votes throughout Florida to be undermined because you have someone who is either too stupid or too corrupt to do their job and report the votes on time,” he said.
7News cameras captured the chaotic scene after supporters of DeSantis’ Democratic opponent, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, showed up in front of the Lauderhill building to demand that every ballot is counted.
“I have a right to vote for whoever I want to vote for,” said Gillum supporter Jonie Jones. “I like Gillum. I want him to win. Even if it is a recount, let’s recount and be nice about it.”
DeSantis and Scott were initially believed to be the winners of their respective races. However, in the days after the election, votes that continued to file in tightened the race further, leading to the possibility of a state-mandated recount more likely.
Speaking with reporters on Friday, President Donald Trump addressed the controversy.
“If you look at Broward County, they have had a horrible history,” he said, “and if you look at the person, in this case a woman, involved, she has had a horrible history, and all of a sudden, they’re finding votes out of nowhere.”
Appearing on Fox News, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio said the prolonged ballot counting process has given him pause.
“It’s concerning, when you go to sleep at 3 a.m. on Wednesday morning after the election and, for example, Rick Scott is up by 60,000 votes, 54,000 votes, whatever it was,” he said. “Today, it’s at 17,000.”
Clashes sparked between pro-DeSantis demonstrators and Gillum supporters.
“Don’t tread on my rights, baby,” said a woman holding a small U.S. flag.
Police officers were forced to bring metal detectors before the canvassing board could continue to count votes. Cameras showed protesters standing next to the law enforcers as some chanted “Lock her up!”
The demonstration takes place one day after a storage container labeled “Provisional Ballot Box” was found at Sunshine Elementary School in Miramar. That container was actually filled with supplies, not ballots.
Meanwhile, inside the Broward Supervisor of Elections Office, the canvassing board got back to work hours behind schedule. Officials said they are looking at voter intent in each provisional ballot.
Protester Alessandra Mondolfi said the board should be allowed enough time to count every vote.
“It’s worth taking the time and doing it right,” she said. “I mean, it was obviously not done right, so let’s take a step back, everybody, take the time, do the count, and if we can all agree that it’s fair and true, then we’ll live with it.”
The canvassing board has until noon on Saturday to give its official results.
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