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Trump accused of stifling democracy as midterm races remain on knife edge

Donald Trump has been accused of undermining the legitimacy of US elections, after claiming without evidence that four key races are being rigged against his Republican party.

Four days after polls closed, two midterm elections in Florida, one in Arizona and one in Georgia remain on a knife edge amid a flurry of lawsuits, protests, partisan recriminations and demands for recounts.

On Saturday, Florida’s secretary of state announced recounts in both the Senate race and the gubernatorial contest. Dispute around those races conjured memories of the infamous hanging chads in the state’s 2000 presidential recount, when the winner of the White House hung in the balance for weeks before the supreme court handed victory to Republican George W Bush over Democrat Al Gore.

Matthew Dowd, who worked on that Bush campaign, tweeted: “Not counting all the votes in Florida in 2000 was a grave injustice and caused many to question the legitimacy of Bush election. Let us not repeat that injustice in FL and AZ this year. Count all the votes.”

As his lead dwindled in the Florida Senate race, Governor Rick Scott filed lawsuits against Democratic election supervisors in two counties, accusing them of violating election law and demanding access to records of their vote tallies.

“I will not sit idly by while unethical liberals try to steal this election,” Scott told reporters.

Volunteers in Florida count absentee and mail-in ballots.



Volunteers in Florida count absentee and mail-in ballots. Photograph: Ian Witlen/Rex/Shutterstock

But incumbent Democratic senator Bill Nelson’s campaign also filed a motion in federal court over the validity of signatures on provisional and absentee ballots. The stand-off has infuriated Trump, whose declaration of victory in the midterms looks increasingly premature. He has abandoned all pretence of remaining above the fray.

He accused Democratic election officials in the two Florida counties of corruption and said he was sending lawyers to heavily Democratic Broward county, where protesters from both sides took to the streets on Friday.

“All of a sudden they are finding votes out of nowhere,” he told reporters at the White House. On Twitter he wrote “FRAUD!” in capital letters, citing no evidence.

As of late Friday, Scott led Nelson by fewer than 15,000 votes, or 0.18%, while in the Florida governor’s race the Trump acolyte Ron DeSantis’s lead over Democrat Andrew Gillum, who is African American, had shrunk to about 36,000 votes or 0.44%. That meant both races qualified to be recounted.


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In Georgia, where Republican Brian Kemp declared victory in the governor’s contest on Wednesday with a narrow lead, Democrat Stacey Abrams, who is African American, has vowed to pursue litigation to ensure all votes are counted. Kemp was the state’s top election official.

Trump tweeted that Kemp “ran a great race in Georgia – he won. It is time to move on!” Abrams’ campaign said it discovered a minimum of 30,823 ballots not yet counted.

In Arizona’s Senate race, Democrat Kyrsten Sinema has a slight lead over Republican Martha McSally. Trump tweeted: “Just out – in Arizona, SIGNATURES DON’T MATCH. Electoral corruption – Call for a new Election? We must protect our Democracy!” Again there was no evidence.

Annie Karni, a White House reporter at the Politico website, wrote in response: “We’re getting a hint of what Trump’s reaction would have looked like had he lost the election in 2016.”

The Axios website added: “The president is doing more than any top official in memory to cast doubt on the outcomes of elections.”

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