District 20 Congressional close-call ends up in Broward County court

The District 20 Congressional Race is still close to call prompting an emergency hearing Friday inside the Broward County Courthouse.

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – The District 20 Congressional Race is still close to call, which prompted an emergency hearing at the Broward County Courthouse on Friday.

“There’s no reason to not count the votes. Usually it’s Republicans who don’t want to count votes,”said Dale Holness, who is hoping to win the seat in Congress.

“There were some inconsistencies from Palm Beach to Broward County,” said Sheila Cherfilus McCormick, who has only a five vote lead over Holness at 11,662 votes. She has sued the Broward County canvassing board to exclude three vote-by-mail ballots.

The board had called those ballots invalid, but then agreed to review and accept them.

According to the lawsuit, Holness requested that review.

Cherfilus-McCormick claims the court needs to “prohibit the illegal counting” of the ballots because they “do not bear signatures that match the voters’ signatures as required.”

A Broward County judge listening to arguments from attorneys of both candidates ultimately decided to not make a ruling at that time.

And that those three mail-by-vote ballots would be opened and set aside for the time being.

The race to fill late Congressman Alcee Hastings seat, already extremely tight, with Broward Election officials now blaming the U.S. Postal Service for late arriving mail-in-ballots.

They say some 287 ballots postmarked and stamped from the Opa-Locka post office before Election Day arrived to late to be counted.

The United States Post Office responded in a statement.

“The United States Postal Service is committed to fulfilling its role in the electoral process as a secure, efficient and effective way for citizens to participate when policymakers decide to use mail as part of their elections. The Postal Service has a robust and tested process for proper handling and timely delivery of Election Mail. Regarding ballots in elections for Florida’s 20th Congressional district, a representative of the Broward County elections office collected all ballots at the Royal Palm processing center on Nov. 2, as per the prearranged process. The Postal Service is unaware of reports of alleged late-arriving ballots. We continue to process and deliver Election Mail, including ballots, as it is provided to us.”

— Debra Jean Fetterly, USPS Spokesperson, South Florida

All eyes are on the canvassing board who are meeting Friday afternoon to possibly decide the outcome of the election to see if the judge will get involved.

If the election ends in a tie, under Florida law, the candidates will pick a card from a deck: The highest number will win.

Read the lawsuit


About the Author:

Parker Branton joined Local 10 News in January 2019 as a reporter. He was born and raised in Rome, Georgia, but now loves living on the sunny beaches of South Florida.