Rick Scott Wants Florida To Cut Out All This 'Counting Votes' Nonsense
Florida has been a hot mess of electoral shenanigans if not outright fraud for as long as I can remember. I still have the Katherine Harris-inflicted scars from the 2000 election. Tuesday night, Republicans Ron DeSantis and Rick Scott pulled ahead in the vote counts for Florida governor and senator, so they just sort of stopped counting. Not counting votes is a reliable, Supreme Court-approved strategy. Why wait for all those pesky returns to come in when we've already tabulated the results from the Republican candidates' own homes? They even counted those votes twice!
Things started to get fishy when shortly after midnight Marco Rubio started wondering aloud on Twitter why his Senate colleague Bill Nelson wouldn't just lie down and die already. "C'mon, let's pull the plug already! The old man's costing this family a fortune!"
Bill Nelson is an honorable man who has has served #Florida & America with distinction. If legitimate reasons exist… https://t.co/pTrxXx2N6m— Marco Rubio (@Marco Rubio) 1541568488.0
This wasn't like when Donald Trump spanked Rubio in his own state's primary. That was called in seconds because Trump won pretty much everywhere and even tied in Rubio's own residence. Barely a percentage point separated Nelson and Scott, and there were still votes outstanding. Those are the "legitimate reasons" for waiting to concede.
Palm Beach, Broward and Duval counties still hadn't finished counting all of their ballots by Wednesday afternoon. The first two are areas Hillary Clinton carried by a significant margin in 2016. And most counties hadn't counted all provisional and overseas mail ballots. A cautious approach seemed reasonable. But the media and the antsy like to declare victories early and set their narratives, even when they might prove wrong.
Scott declared himself the winner Tuesday night and probably rocked the casbah "new Senator-style" but both actions might've been premature. His lead kept decreasing and soon dropped below the threshold that automatically triggered a recount. Someone call Woody Harrelson's agent to block out time for the eventual movie.
Scott didn't like this turn of events, because he's done with governor-ing and wants to get busy rubber stamping Trump's right-wing judges. He announced Thursday night that his campaign had
sued the Democratic elections supervisors of Broward and Palm Beach Counties (he was cool with Duval for some reason). He also requested the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, which kinda reports to him, investigate them because that's not at all sleazy.
"The people of Florida deserve fairness and transparency, and the supervisors are failing to give it to us," Mr. Scott said. "Every Floridian should be concerned there may be rampant fraud happening in Palm Beach and Broward Counties."
"We've all seen the incompetence and irregularities in vote tabulations in Broward and Palm Beach for years," he added, "but here we go again. I will not sit idly by while unethical liberals try to steal this election from the great people of Florida."
"Basically, this state I've run for almost a decade is a wretched hive of scum and villainy. Please make me your senator." Also, sir, the race is virtually tied. It's not really theft when half the state wants a different result. This is more an acrimonious divorce. Scott went on to single out Broward County Elections Supervisor Brenda Snipes, whom he claimed "has a history of acting in bad faith." Right-wing rags have already pointed to incidents where Snipes "illegally destroyed" ballots. Shockingly, this is not entirely true. A judge ruled that Snipes had destroyed prematurely in the 2016 primary race between Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Tim Canova. But there was no evidence of malicious intent and all the ballots had been counted in Wasserman Schultz's decisive victory. She "mistakenly" destroyed the physical ballots after a year, the standard for state elections, rather than the required 22 months for federal elections. And yes, there were scanned digital copies.
But that is enough for conservatives to believe Snipes is part of some conspiracy to "steal" the Senate election from Scott. Rubio went full Lindsey Graham temper tantrum on Twitter Thursday, announcing a "Long but IMPORTANT THREAT ON ELECTIONS IN #FLORIDA." I assume he meant "thread" but he was getting ahead of himself about the existential "threat" of counting every vote cast in an election.
Rubio snarkily tweeted that "Bay County was hit by a Cat 4 Hurricane just 4 weeks ago, yet managed to count votes & submit timely results. Yet over 41 hours after polls closed Broward elections office is still counting votes?" Maybe a hurricane hit Rubio's brain as well, because Bay County has a population of 178,361 and cast an estimated 63,768 votes. Broward County has a population of two million and cast an estimated 707,223 votes. Can you count, Senator?
Yeah, it's taking a long time. This is not unprecedented, of course. As recently as 2012, it took forever to call Florida for Obama, who also was ahead by less than a percentage point. Most news sources didn't even declare Obama the winner until the Friday after the election. Because Florida was ultimately superfluous to the outcome of the presidential race by that point, there were fewer complaints or demands for instant political gratification. It's worth reminding folks that Florida is the third largest state behind just California and Texas, both of which are generally speaking solidly blue and red so prominent statewide races rarely go down to the wire. Gavin Newsom beat his Republican opponent in the California governor's race by almost 20 points. It's safe to say it's over while folks take their time making it official.
But Li'l Marco clearly fears a scenario where Nelson wins so he's preemptively tainting the outcome while talking out of the other side of his ass about how "the last thing our already dangerously divided nation needs is an important election 1/2 our people believe was rigged by the other 1/2." Huh? Nelson voters didn't rig shit, you useless partisan hack.
Now democrat lawyers are descending on #Florida. They have been very clear they aren’t here to make sure every vote… https://t.co/7prYns33Be— Marco Rubio (@Marco Rubio) 1541700976.0
Former House representative Gwen Graham, who recently lost the Democratic primary for governor, took out the Twitter switch and dragged Rubio behind the woodshed. It was beautiful.
You literally used the phrase "steal a seat" to describe a valid canvass of the ballots. Steel your spine, Senator… https://t.co/RH9STLBtaV— Gwen Graham (@Gwen Graham) 1541729834.0
She even referred to Rubio's rants as "Utter Trumpian BS," which perhaps inspired the president to come out this morning with his own, original recipe BS. Accept not substitutes!
"And if you look at the person, in this case a woman, involved -- she has had a horrible history," Trump said.
Sweet Christ! Women are literally people, you moron. What do you even mean with "in this case"?"
"All of a sudden they are finding votes out of nowhere," Trump said of the Senate race.
They're not "finding" votes like a common J.J. Evans. They're counting them.
"Every couple of hours, it goes down a little bit," Trump said of Scott's lead.
This can happen when you count the votes.
Trump then started connecting the recount efforts to the officials behind the "phony dossier" on him.
When Trump and Rubio are spinning the same mad conspiracy theories, you know that Bill Nelson is in good shape to keep his Senate seat. At least we hope.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. Once, he wrote a novel called “Mahogany Slade,” which you should read or at least buy. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."