Three recounts, baseless voter fraud claims and mixed messages from candidates: Heres whats going on with the Florida elections

https://www.businessinsider.com/florida-election-recounts-are-fraught-with-controversy-2018-11


AP_18314674620501 (1)
MediaPunch
/IPX via AP


  • Florida’s midterm elections have descended into
    chaos.
  • The secretary of state ordered recounts in three races
    Saturday.
  • A top election official said Sunday it would be
    “impossible” to meet the Thursday deadline. 
  • Political tensions have reached a fever pitch amid
    baseless claims of voter fraud from Republicans including
    President Donald Trump. 

Florida’s midterm elections descended into chaos over the weekend
as three recounts were ordered and baseless claims of voter fraud
arose.

Tensions reached a fever pitch after Florida Secretary of State
Ken Detzner ordered automatic machine
recounts 
for the US Senate, governor, and
agricultural commissioner races in an unprecedented move.

Amid continuous baseless claims of voter fraud from
President Donald Trump and Republican Senate candidate Rick
Scott
, election officials strained under tight
deadlines. 

Three close races


Bill Nelson Florida
U.S.
Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., gestures during a campaign rally for
Florida Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum and
himself Monday, Oct. 22, 2018, at the University of South Florida
in Tampa, Fla.


Chris
O’Meara/AP



On Election Day, Republican Rick Scott was expected to
defeat Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson in the Senate
race. 

However, Scott’s lead over incumbent Nelson totaled 0.15
percentage points, triggering a hand recount of undervotes and
overvotes, or ballots from which tabulation machines couldn’t
determine which candidate got the vote, 

In the governor’s race, unofficial tallies showed Ron
DeSantis leading Andrew Gillum by less than 0.5 percentage
points, which triggered an automatic machine recount, the Miami
Herald
reported

Democrat Nikki Fried had a 0.06 percentage point lead over
Republican state Rep. Matt Caldwell in the race for agriculture
commissioner, which will also undergo a machine
recount. 

Officials in all 67 counties are expected to re-feed
ballots into count tabulators by 3 p.m. on November 15 and return
re-tabulated results back to the secretary of state.

Counties are free to decide when they begin their recounts,
but must complete them by Thursday. 

Palm Beach County’s elections chief Susan Bucher said it
would be “impossible
for her department to complete a recount for the three races by
Thursday, as

volunteers have only eight machines to
recount the hundreds of thousand votes. 

Baseless claims of voter fraud


votingStephen Maturen/Getty Images

Scott said Sunday that Nelson was trying to garner votes
from fraudulent ballots and those cast by noncitizens. 

“He is trying to commit fraud to win this election,” Scott
told Fox News without offering
further evidence. “Bill Nelson’s a sore loser. He’s been in
politics way too long.”

No state department, including the election division Scott heads,
has found any
no evidence of voter fraud
. The Florida Department of Law
Enforcement said Friday it has not
launched any investigation into election fraud.

Trump has extensively lashed out about the process,
calling it a “disgrace” and tweeting Friday to suggest Democrats
are behind a fraudulent agenda. 

“How come they never find Republican votes?” the president
wrote,
citing baseless claims that Broward County officials attempted to
“falsify” votes in the 2016 election as well. “This is an
embarrassment to our Country and to Democracy!” he tweeted.

South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham echoed
baseless claims
 about the election, saying he “couldn’t
agree more” with Scott about “apparent shenanigans going on in
Broward and Palm Beach.”

On Sunday, Scott filed lawsuits against local election officials,
asking a judge to order police to impound voting machines and
ballots when they’re not in use,
Reuters reported
.

And last week, Scott filed a lawsuit
demanding records detailing the counting and collection of
ballots cast
, a move which political opponents
said appeared to be politically motivated and a sign
of desperation.

Mixed messages from candidates


Andrew Gillum
Democratic
gubernatorial hopeful Andrew Gillum gestures as he speaks to the
crowd during a campaign stop Friday, Aug. 17, 2018, in Tampa,
Fla.


AP
Photo/Chris O’Meara



Candidates have gone back and forth over the decision to
call a recount. Gillum withdrew his concession Saturday, saying
he was “replacing my words of concession with an uncompromised
and unapologetic call that we count every single
vote.” 

In a video statement released
Saturday, DeSantis said the election results were “clear and
unambiguous” and he was preparing to become the state’s next
governor.

He also thanked the state’s supervisors of elections, canvassing
boards, and the staffs for “working hard to ensure that all
lawful votes are counted.”

“It is important that everyone involved in the election process
strictly adhere to the rule of law which is the foundation for
our nation,” he said.