83,000 Florida Ballots Were FUBAR In 2018 Gov Race, So: SURPRISE!
More than 83,000 people in Florida voted wrong in the extremely close 2018 election for governor in Florida, according to a state report. Not that they chose the wrong candidate -- that was 4,076,186 of them -- they just submitted ballots that couldn't be counted because they voted for two candidates in the same race, didn't mark a candidate at all, or voted for someone who wasn't running, like Seymour Hair. The number of invalid votes was, as the Associated Press points out, about 50,000 votes more than Ron DeSantis's margin of victory over Andrew Gillum. Ah, Florida! Ah, humanity!
The report by the Florida Division of Elections has been required by state law after every election since the 2000 electoral fucktagon that resulted in George W. Bush becoming president. And while 83,000 invalid votes is truly a fuckton of a failure of democracy (it's a REPUBLIC!), maaaaybe that's just to be expected in a huge state that never seems to get its voting altogether right? The AP does the context thing:
More than 8.2 million votes were cast in the high-profile race for governor that attracted national attention. The total number of "non-valid votes" was 1 percent, which was a lower rate than either the 2016 presidential election or the 2014 governor's race.
Here's the report's breakdown of the "no valid vote" types:
Worth noting a couple things here: Florida has polling place procedures to alert voters to an overvote, so if someone accidentally votes for two candidates in one race, they'll have the chance to fix it. But failing to mark a choice in a single race won't be noticed -- the scanning machines only alert the voter if the entire ballot is blank. And for people voting for mail, if there's an over- or undervote, the error just plain means the ballot won't be counted at all.
Compared to the 2016 general election, the 2018 governor's race had an increase in overvotes, but the percentage of undervotes actually declined. (Also, thanks one whole hell of a lot, Florida, for fucking that up right in the executive summary.)
Once you get to the actual report, it's clear that overvotes increased slightly, and blank votes actually declined compared to 2016 which, if we must be charitable to Florida, would seem to argue against any nefarious vote-disappearing. Same goes for overall invalid ballots, despite the slight uptick in overvotes. Here, have a look!
The state law mandates the Division of Elections examine invalid-vote data from Florida's 67 counties to determine if there were any "identifiable problem" leading to systematic vote-counting errors, and this year's report says nah, no fuckups beyond this simply being godforsaken Florida:
The compiled Gubernatorial contest data do not show anything to suggest or conclude that voter confusion existed during the election as a result of ballot design and/or ballot instructions issues, or that the voting equipment manifested any anomalies.
We'll confess to a bit of a Chris Matthews leg tingle at that correct use of "data" as a plural.
Following the 2000 election, Florida got rid of all its punch-card voting systems, so no chads would ever dangle again. All the counties use paper ballots that are scanned at the polling place (touchscreen systems are available only to people with disabilities who request them). And while we're always skeptical of the idea that anyone would just say the hell with it and decide not to pick a candidate in an election as important as the governor's race, we suppose it could reflect the background radiation of Florida Weird, and maybe a certain percentage of jackwads who simply couldn't decide who they disliked more: the Republican, or the black dude.
Also worth noting: The electoral fuckery in Republican-run states like Florida almost always comes well in advance of any votes getting counted, in the form of pruning the rolls of eligible (black) voters or other voter suppression measures. In Florida last year (and in Georgia), the state's insane treatment of absentee ballots led to plenty of votes just plain not being tabulated -- and that problem is obviously not addressed by this report.
You know, Washington and Oregon have voting by mail that works without all this mess. Maybe Florida should ask them for advice?
[Orlando Sentinel (AP) / Florida Division of Elections / Tampa Bay Times]
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