Florida Vote Recounts Calm, Rational, As Expected

Florida's hand-counting of ballots is underway, and for all the Republican whining about Democrats trying to "steal" the elections for US Senate and governor (and floating insane conspiracy theories while they're at it), the recounts appear on track to confirm the results initially reported on election night: Florida's new governor will probably be Republican Rick DeSantis, and current governor and Voldemort impersonator Rick Scott will probably replace Democrat Bill Nelson in the US Senate. That doesn't necessarily mean anything is really settled, of course, because it's fucking Florida.

In the governor's race, a machine recount resulted in only one additional vote going to the Democratic candidate, Andrew Gillum, who nonetheless hadn't conceded as of last night. Gillum still trailed DeSantis by 33,683 votes, but the difference between the two candidates was 0.41 percent, not enough to trigger a hand recount. Gillum nonetheless called on the state to finish a number of outstanding lawsuits before calling it quits:

"A vote denied is justice denied — the State of Florida must count every legally cast vote," Gillum said. "As today's unofficial reports and recent court proceedings make clear, there are tens of thousands of votes that have yet to be counted. We plan to do all we can to ensure that every voice is heard in this process."

Gillum's campaign has not, however, filed a lawsuit itself. Not really a big surprise -- everyone paying attention had already noticed the size of that number gap was much bigger than in other elections where a recount has changed the outcome, although CNN's Chris Cillizza tried to pretend math was a "dirty little secret."

In the US Senate race, Nelson's campaign had hoped that a hand recount would fill in a huge anomaly in the results in Broward County compared to the rest of the state: Just over 30,000 people (at the latest machine count yesterday) who had voted in the governor's race appeared to have not voted at all in the US Senate race. That was a much larger rate than the "undervotes" in other Florida counties. The hope was that a hand recount might have found a whole bunch of votes for Nelson that the vote-counting machines might have missed, but as Mother Jones reporter Pima Levy found, nope: It was just a lot of blanks in the Senate race.

And as with another notoriously badly run Florida election, it appears a badly designed ballot is again responsible for a huge bunch of votes going wrong, this time in Dem-leaning Broward County. Instead of the shittily arranged "butterfly ballot" that caused a whole lot of elderly Dem-inclined Jews in Palm Beach County to "vote for" Pat Buchanan in 2000, this time around, the optical-scanned ballot placed the US Senate race right after the instructions, on the first column of the page, where a small but significant number of voters trying to speed through voting probably missed it, as this meticulous MS-Paint illustration from the Washington Post shows:

Broward completed its hand recount in just two hours, and while the official results still aren't in, it's not looking good for Nelson: The undervotes really do appear to have been just plain left blank, not real votes the machines didn't pick up on. When Mother Jones tweets this, you know the proverbial fat lady is running through some scales backstage.

It's still not absolutely over, since there are still lawsuits flying around, which could change whether thousands of absentee ballots will be counted (plus worries that Florida's terrible mail system made matters worse), but the math is very much against enough absentee ballots making a difference.

The point is, you want all the votes counted, and in Florida, once again, it looks like there's just a fuckton of both incompetence and designed-in fuckery -- like hey, maybe the state could fund accurate, non-breaky voting machines? Changes in the outcome in Florida were a long shot. It's not surprising we got maybe a bit too optimistic about the chances of a different outcome in Florida, especially considering that A) a full-state recount in 2000 probably would have turned out in Al Gore's favor; 2) there's so much genuinely good news in California, where Democratic House victories keep rolling in as the state gets an accurate count of all its ballots, and III) all those Republican freakouts over OMG DEMZ STEALING ELECTION! sure made it seem like the Rs thought they had something to really fear from an accurate recount.

And frankly, they do -- had the Broward ballot not been a clusterfuck AGAIN, it seems pretty likely Bill Nelson would have won, although of course now Bat Boy believes he has a mandate.

So hey, now it's time for Florida to actually fix its very broken election infrastructure. There are a lot of states where voting isn't totally fucked, like, say, Oregon, where voting by mail is easy and efficient. With 2020 coming up and a million and a half formerly disenfranchised voters having their right to vote restored, we just bet Ron DeSantis will make having a fair and accurate vote his top priority as governor, huh?

Update: As a reader reminds us, Palm Beach County, not Broward, had the screwy butterfly ballots in 2000. We have changed the sub-hed and clarified the paragraph on ballot design. Wonkette regrets the error. (SEE, FLORIDA, THAT'S HOW YOU FIX AN ERROR!)

[Vox / Mother Jones / Orlando Sentinel / WaPo / Pema Levy on Twitter / WaPo / NBC News]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.


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