President Donald Trump urged Florida to declare Republicans Rick Scott and Ron DeSantis as the victors in elections for the Senate and governorship respectively. The president also suggested that the election was tainted by fraud which will taint the results of the ongoing recounts in both races.
“The Florida Election should be called in favor of Rick Scott and Ron DeSantis in that large numbers of new ballots showed up out of nowhere, and many ballots are missing or forged,” Trump wrote on Twitter on the morning of Nov. 12. “An honest vote count is no longer possible-ballots massively infected. Must go with Election Night!”
The Florida Election should be called in favor of Rick Scott and Ron DeSantis in that large numbers of new ballots showed up out of nowhere, and many ballots are missing or forged. An honest vote count is no longer possible-ballots massively infected. Must go with Election Night!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 12, 2018
Florida conducted a machine recount of more than 8 million votes on Nov. 12, which was triggered over the weekend after the margins for victory for both Scott and DeSantis were lower than 0.5 percent. If the machine recounts result in a margin of less than 0.25 percent in either race, a manual recount will follow.
Scott, the governor of Florida, is running against incumbent Democratic Senator Bill Nelson. De Santis, a congressman, is up against Democrat Andrew Gillum in the race for Scott’s gubernatorial seat.
The president’s allegations regarding “missing or forged” ballots likely stem from violations by two heavily Democratic counties, Broward and Palm Beach, which failed to submit counts for early voting and mail-in ballots by the mandated deadline.
Scott filed a lawsuit against Broward County Supervisor of Elections Brenda Snipes demanding that she provide the numbers for the ballots cast, counted, and remaining.
A circuit court judge found Snipes in violation of state public records law on Nov. 9. The judge ordered Snipes to provide the ballot counts on the same day. Snipes has not yet complied. Scott said he’ll call on the judge to find Snipes in contempt of court.
For Republicans, the Senate race represents an opportunity to expand their majority in the Senate. Democrats are eager to keep the Senate margin slim and secure another governorship.
There have been 1,177 proven instances of voter fraud in the United States which resulted in 1,019 criminal convictions, according to a database maintained by The Heritage Foundation. While none of the cases demonstrate widespread voter fraud, a massive scale is not necessary to impact an election. The presidential election in 2000 was decided by a 537 vote margin in Florida.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement, which has said it will review allegations of criminal fraud, stated that it had no active investigations as of late Friday.
Some Florida officials have said it may not be possible to recount all ballots by the 3 p.m. deadline on Nov. 15. Thousands of ballots mailed by overseas military service members and civilians may still be in transit but must arrive by Nov. 16 to count.
Scott has said he won the Senate race even as the ballots were tallied again, telling Fox News in an interview on Nov. 12, “I want to make sure there’s a free and fair election. But there’s laws. Comply with the laws.”
“It’s frustrating, but we won. We’re going to win the recount because it’s never been overturned before,” Scott said.