Judge orders recount deadline for Palm Beach County extended to Nov. 20

Nelson campaign files lawsuit to extend deadline for all 67 counties

By Tim Swift - Local10.com Digital Editor

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Palm Beach County should have until Nov. 20 to complete the recount process, a judge ruled Tuesday. The supervisor of elections has said it would be impossible to meet the Florida recount's Thursday deadline.

The ruling by Florida Circuit Judge Karen Giever is likely to be challenged in federal court.

Elections chief Susan Bucher had repeatedly said Palm Beach County's older voting equipment would not be able to recount the votes fast enough to meet the 3 p.m. Thursday deadline set by Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner.

"Florida's election laws are compartmentalized and are somewhat inconsistent. The statues do not seem to contemplate a situation, such as here, where close results trigger the need for multiple recounts," Giever wrote in her order.

Unlike other counties, Palm Beach County's voting equipment can't recount multiple races at the same time. Bucher has said the county will be able to meet the Thursday deadline for the U.S. Senate race, but was concerned about the other races with mandated recounts.

If Palm Beach County election officials failed to meet the deadline, the state would go with the original results reported after Election Day.

The lawsuit was brought on behalf of Democrat Jim Bonfiglio, who is currently trailing his opponent, Republican Mike Caruso, by 37 votes in the race for state House District 89.

The extension would also apply to the statewide races -- governor, agriculture commissioner and U.S. Senator -- undergoing machine recounts.

Also Tuesday, Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson who is locked in a tight race with Gov. Rick Scott filed a lawsuit in federal court that would extend the deadline to all of Florida's 67 counties, not just Palm Beach. The campaign called the Thursday deadline "arbitrary."

The suit asking the local elections officials be allowed have "the time they say is needed to finish." 

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