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Trump, Republicans escalate unsubstantiated voter-fraud conspiracies

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Donald Trump midterm rally Florida
President
Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally for Republican
midterm candidates in Florida on Wednesday.

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

  • Florida’s midterm election recount is underway, but aging,
    faulty machines are slowing the process in some counties. 
  • President Donald Trump and his GOP allies have continued to
    spread unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud and corruption in
    Democratic-leaning counties. 
  • Both Republicans and Democrats have filed lawsuits over how
    the vote is counted. 

Florida’s midterm election recount continues as President Donald
Trump and his Republican allies lob unsubstantiated allegations
of voter fraud and Democrats sue the state to expand the universe
of eligible votes. 

The most anticipated results are in the US Senate race in which
Republican Gov. Rick Scott is leads Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson
by 0.14 of a percentage point, or around 12,000 votes, in the
state’s initial vote tabulation. 

Technical difficulties persist

While Republicans have aggressively attacked two of the state’s
largest counties — both Democratic-leaning — with allegations of
voter fraud and widespread corruption without presenting any
evidence to support these claims, elections officials report that
aging and faulty equipment and over-stretched staff have
significantly slowed their ballot-counting efforts
.

(The vast majority of the state’s 67 counties will have their
recounts completed by the Thursday deadline). 

The Palm Beach County elections supervisor
said Tuesday
that the county’s aging machines have
overheated, causing issues in the recount of 
174,000
early voter ballots.

Palm Beach, which received nearly 600,000 votes, is the only
county in the state that uses machines that are only able to
count one race at a time. (A judge gave the county a four-day
deadline extension — until next Tuesday — to count its
ballots). 

Florida-based Democratic strategist Steve
Schale thinks some of the attacks on elections officials, most
notably Broward County supervisor Brenda Snipes, could have been
avoided if the officials had been more transparent and
communicative about their overwhelming load. 

“I think there’s a huge issue with just lack of communication,”
Schale said of Broward County. “Had [Snipes] had a press
conference on Wednesday morning and just said, ‘Listen we just
got inundated the last 24 hours with ballots,’ I don’t think some
of the criticism she’s gotten would have been leveled in the same
way.” 


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H

otly
contested recounts are underway in Florida, as Georgia and
Arizona scramble to finalize results in key races

Schale argued that the untold story is that the vote-counting is,
in fact, going largely as expected, given the surge in turnout
and outdated machinery. 

“For the most part it’s basically working,” Schale said. “It’s
actually working pretty well, certainly having lived through 2000
— I mean there’s no comparison.” 

Trump makes increasingly wild voter-fraud claims

Since Election Day last Tuesday, Trump has led Republican efforts
to spread unsubstantiated allegations about the vote counts in
Florida, claiming that officials are forging and “finding” votes
or committing other forms of fraud.

“When will Bill Nelson concede in Florida? The characters running
Broward and Palm Beach voting will not be able to ‘find’ enough
votes, too much spotlight on them now!” Trump tweeted on Tuesday.

On Wednesday, the president — without any evidence —
alleged
that voters will “go to their car, put on a different
hat, put on a different shirt, come in and vote again.”

Democrats have repeatedly pointed out that the state sent
election monitors to observe the ballot-counting in Broward
County, and these officials have not reported any instances of
alleged wrongdoing. 

“Either those election observers say there’s no fraud, or they’re
complicit in the fraud,” Schale said. 

Democrats have continued to push back on the unfounded claims,
which Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Rep. Matt Gaetz have also
added to. 

“It’s a page out of Donald Trump’s playbook – it’s nonsense,
there’s no evidence,” Mitch Ceasar, the former
longtime chairman of the Broward Democratic Party, told
INSIDER
. “When they win, they win. And when the lose, they
say it’s fixed.”


Bill Nelson
Bill Nelson.
AP Photo/Phelan
M. Ebenhack



Lawsuits fly

Nelson’s campaign has filed multiple lawsuits, including to
overturn a Florida statute that requires voter signatures to
match the signatures the state has on file and to allow ballots
postmarked before Election Day (but received by the state after)
to be counted. 

Schale argued that the suits address real issues the state has
had and will likely continue to have if they’re not resolved. He
said that he doesn’t mail in his ballot for fear of it being
disqualified over his signature not matching the state’s
records. 

DeSantis himself — along with other
Florida lawmakers
— has
had his mail-in ballot rejected
because his signatures were
mismatched. 

“I don’t know whether the lawsuit has merit or not — I’m not a
lawyer, the judge will figure that out,” Schale said of the
lawsuit concerning voter signatures. “But the reality is that
it’s been a problem. It is a problem — and that is decreasing
confidence among voters when they cast a vote-by-mail
ballot.” 

Scott’s team has also filed suits demanding, among other things,
that law enforcement seize and monitor ballots and voting
equipment during the recounts (which was denied by a judge on
Monday) and an injunction to stop Broward County from counting
any ballots not submitted by last Saturday’s deadline.

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