Yesterday, a Florida judge appointed by former Republican Gov. Jeb Bush struck down current Republican Gov. Rick Scott’s attempt to impound voting machines to disrupt the recount, and the judge told everyone to tone down the rhetoric about elections supposedly being “stolen.” Scott then dropped his motion to quarantine voting machines within his purview, and was subsequently sued by a group of Florida voters and grassroots organizations, as they alleged that the governor abused his power to try to swing the outcome of his race for senator and the contest to replace Scott as governor.
This is an outright attack on our democracy. Florida law mandates that if an election is within 0.5%, an automatic recount is triggered, and Scott is using that as a springboard for a larger attack against the very concept of elections. The premise from Republicans like Scott essentially goes that if a Democrat is winning in a non-deep blue state, some shenanigans must be going on. The backdrop to all this is that by Thursday, 700,000 ballots need to be recounted in Broward County and 600,000 in Palm Beach County.
What makes this especially heinous is that nearly all election experts agree that Scott has his race won, yet Scott is still spinning conspiracy theories about supposed “election fraud” which has been repudiated by his own election officials and state police. Per Politico:
“Our staff has seen no evidence of criminal activity at this time,” Department of State spokeswoman Sarah Revell wrote in an email on Saturday. Scott is the state’s current governor and the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate with a narrow lead over incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.)
That assessment, which was first reported by the Miami Herald, jives with that given by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, which said Friday it has also seen no allegations of fraud.
Despite his own administration and state law enforcement saying there is no evidence of voter fraud, Scott held an event organized by his Senate campaign Thursday night to ask the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to investigate Broward County and Palm Beach County, which are playing a big role in a recount involving his race against Nelson.
So the question becomes: if a judge believes that Rick Scott’s extraordinary request to impound voting machines was over the line, and Scott’s own election monitors and law enforcement officials say there is no voter fraud in these heavily Democratic counties, why is Rick Scott (and Marco Rubio) making such a big stink over counting all the votes?
Florida is home to some of the most restrictive voting laws in the country (one of which was overturned this cycle, giving roughly 1.4 million ex-felons the right to vote), and with each attack on democracy from people who are poised to win these elections, you can’t help but wonder if they’re trying to conceal more subtle attacks on our democracy that helped them win these elections.
Jacob Weindling is a staff writer for Paste politics. Follow him on Twitter at @Jakeweindling.