President Trump on Monday suggested that the ongoing recounts in Florida should be halted and the razor-thin races called for Republican candidates while floating baseless claims of voter fraud.
“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,” the president tweeted. “An honest vote count is no longer possible — ballots massively infected. Must go with Election Night!”
Trump did not offer evidence of the alleged massive ballot infection.
Both U.S. Senate and governor’s races in the Sunshine State fell within the half-percentage point margin that triggers mandatory machine recounts, with GOP Gov. Rick Scott ahead of incumbent Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson by 0.18 percent in the race for Senate, and Republican Rep. Ron DeSantis leading Tallahassee’s Democratic Mayor Andrew Gillum by 0.44 percent in the race for governor, according to the state’s unofficial results. If either recount shows a margin of less than 0.25 percent, a hand recount will be ordered.
Late last week, Scott demanded that law enforcement investigate possible voter fraud.
“I will not sit idly by while unethical liberals try to steal this election from the great people of Florida,” Scott said during a press conference Thursday.
But both the secretary of state’s office and Florida Department of Law Enforcement found no credible evidence of such activity.
On Sunday night, Scott’s campaign filed a motion to “impound” voting equipment in Palm Beach and Broward counties, accusing Broward’s supervisor of elections, Brenda Snipes, of “incompetence and gross mismanagement.” The legal maneuver prompted Democrats to accuse Scott of wielding his position like a “Latin American dictator.”
Similar accusations have been lobbed by the DeSantis campaign.
Trump, who campaigned for Scott and DeSantis, has mimicked those claims, accusing Democrats on Saturday of “trying to STEAL two big elections in Florida!”
Recounts are not uncommon, especially in Florida, the setting for the infamous 2000 presidential recount that took more than five weeks to declare George W. Bush the winner.
The recount this time around is scheduled to be completed by Thursday, though officials in Palm Beach County warned Sunday it may take longer to meet that deadline.
The state of Florida also accepts absentee ballots from military members and dependents stationed overseas through Nov. 16, provided they were postmarked by Nov. 6 — something the president failed to recognize.
“The president is effectively calling for the disenfranchisement of military service-members,” the Washington Post’s Aaron Blake noted on Twitter.
While voter irregularities are often reported, studies have repeatedly concluded that actual voter fraud in the United States is extremely rare. But Trump has often raised it as an issue, without evidence.
During the the 2016 presidential race, Trump warned of a “rigged” political system, predicting that Democrats would try to steal the election from him. Even after his Electoral College victory, Trump convened a commission to investigate potential voting fraud, repeatedly alleging that “millions and millions of people” voted illegally, costing him the popular vote. The panel was dissolved in January.
On ABC’s “This Week With George Stephanopoulos” Sunday, Trump counselor Kellyanne Conway was asked if the president had any evidence of the election fraud he is alleging occurred in Florida.
“Well, the evidence is that Rick Scott and Ron DeSantis have won,” she said.
On election night in 2012, Trump called President Barack Obama’s reelection victory by clinching of the Electoral College a “total sham” because, at the time, Obama trailed Mitt Romney in the popular vote tally.
“More votes equals a loss,” Trump tweeted, adding: “revolution!”
Obama ultimately won the popular vote over Romney too — something Trump failed to do against Hillary Clinton.
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