Highlands, Polk counties join Florida recount efforts

Nearly a week after the election, the recount continues in Florida with Highlands and Polk counties beginning to tally up their ballots, again, on Monday.

The recount controversy is a highly-charged issue, and to keep things fair, the Polk County Sheriff's Office brought in extra security as an added protection. Two deputies will be stationed at the Supervisor of Elections office in Winter Haven. One deputy is registered as a Republican and the other is registered as a Democrat.

"Our deputies are going to be there purely for security and observation," explained Scott Wilder, a spokesperson for the sheriff's office. "We don't expect any protests. We don't expect any problems with the voting and counting process. We just want to make sure that there's that extra layer of security and accountability for the people."

On Monday morning, President Donald Trump tweeted that the election results in Florida should "be called in favor of Rick Scott and Ron DeSantis in that large numbers of new ballots showed up out of nowhere, and many ballots are missing or forged. An honest vote count is no longer possible-ballots massively infected. Must go with Election Night!."

Polk County Supervisor of Elections Lori Edwards said the comments from the president are " offensive and irresponsible."

"Not only that," she tells FOX 13, "but I think of all the thousands of workers all over Florida. These are volunteers from our community. These are your friends and my neighbors, who get up before the crack of dawn and work for a mere stipend to protect our right to vote. He has insulted every one of them. It's totally reprehensible."

Edwards said if anyone claims there is voter fraud in the elections, they should "bring" the evidence to light.

Over the weekend, protestors were seen outside other Supervisor of Election officers, including Broward County, where the recount was delayed for several hours Sunday morning because of a problem with one of the tabulation machines. A crowd of mostly Republicans gathered, holding signs, listening to country music and occasionally chanting "lock her up," referring to Broward's supervisor of elections, Brenda Snipes.

The Democratic candidate for Florida governor, Andrew Gillum, has told an overflow crowd at an African-American church that voter disenfranchisement isn't just about being blocked from the polling booth.

Gillum said Sunday evening that disenfranchisement also includes absentee ballots not being counted and ballots where "a volunteer may have the option of looking at that ballot and deciding that vote is null and void" because of a mismatched signature.

Gillum warned against vote suppression at the close of a day of mishaps, protests and litigation overshadowing the vote recounting in the pivotal races for governor and the U.S. Senate. Gillum has argued each vote should be counted and the process should take its course.

Unofficial results show that DeSantis led Gillum the Tallahassee mayor, by less than 0.5 percentage points. In the Senate race, Scott's lead over Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson is less than 0.25 percentage points.

Gov. Rick Scott, the Republican candidate for Senate, filed suit on Sunday against Snipes. The suit asks a circuit court judge to order law enforcement agents to impound and secure the county's voting machines, tallying devices and ballots "when not in use until such time as any recounts."

The lawsuit says Snipes has failed to account for the number of ballots left to be counted and failed to report results regularly as required by law. The county is emerging as the epicenter of controversy in the recount.

The Florida secretary of state ordered the recounts to be completed by Thursday in all 67 Florida counties. About half of them got to work over the weekend.

Unofficial results in the governor's race show Republican former U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis led Democratic Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum by less than 0.5 percentage points. In the Senate race, Scott's lead over Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson is less than 0.25 percentage points.

State law requires a machine recount in races where the margin is less than 0.5 percentage points. Once completed, if the differences in any of the races are 0.25 percentage points or below, a hand recount will be ordered.

Florida is also conducting a recount in a third statewide race. Democrat Nikki Fried had a 0.07 percentage point lead over Republican state Rep. Matt Caldwell in the race for agriculture commissioner, one of Florida's three Cabinet seats.