WASHINGTON -- Key results in this week’s US elections hung in the balance Thursday, two days after polling, with accusations flying of voter fraud and corruption, as several races appeared headed for recounts.
The Republican challenger in Florida’s closely-fought Senate seat, said he was suing two election officials, as his apparent lead in the contest narrowed.
“The people of Florida deserve fairness and transparency,” Rick Scott told reporters.
“Every Floridian should be concerned there may be rampant fraud happening in Palm Beach and Broward Counties.”
Scott, who is the state’s sitting governor, said he was ordering an official investigation into his own race.
The dramatic announcement prompted a tweet from President Donald Trump alleging a “big corruption scandal” while fellow Republican Marco Rubio accused Democrats of a coordinated effort to “steal the election.”
Florida was also the site of bitterly-fought legal battles in the 2000 presidential election.
Those were halted by the US Supreme Court, and George W. Bush defeated Al Gore by 537 votes in Florida, giving him the edge in the electoral college and handing him the White House.
Both Scott’s race for the Senate — against Democrat incumbent Bill Nelson — and the state’s governor election appeared headed for mandatory recounts.
Meanwhile, the Democratic candidate for governor in neighboring Georgia was threatening legal action to ensure all votes were counted in her contest.
Another Senate race in southwestern Arizona that was previously called in favor of a Republican candidate was tilting toward the Democrat on Thursday night, official results showed.
The developments looked set to raise partisan tensions to fresh highs 48 hours after polls closed in US midterm elections that saw Democrats seize control of the House of Representatives, while Republicans maintained their grip on the Senate.
‘Ready for any outcome’
Scott’s lawsuits alleged a lack of transparency over the counting process and asked that further details be made public, as his lead continued to shrink to around 15,000 votes.
President Donald Trump, under fire over his sacking of his attorney general, leapt on the news.
“Law Enforcement is looking into another big corruption scandal having to do with Election Fraud in #Broward and Palm Beach,” he tweeted. “Florida voted for Rick Scott!”
Rancor was also spilling into governors’ races, where Andrew Gillum in Florida and Stacey Abrams in Georgia were aiming to become the states’ first African-American leaders, but the contests were tilting in favor of their Republican rivals.
Unofficial results show Gillum trailing Ron DeSantis, a Trump-endorsed Republican, by just 38,515 votes out of 8.1 million cast, or 0.47 percentage points.
Since Tuesday’s election, “it has become clear there are many more uncounted ballots than was originally reported,” Gillum spokeswoman Johanna Cervone said, amid reports that ballots had yet to be counted in Democrat-leaning Broward County.