President Trump demanded on Monday morning that Florida halt its ongoing, legally required statewide recounts while the Republican candidates are still ahead, claiming, without evidence, that “many ballots are missing or forged” and the ballots are “massively infected.”
“An honest vote count is no longer possible-ballots massively infected,” Trump tweeted. “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
Forging ballots, as Trump claims has happened in Florida, would be election fraud. Yet state and local officials have repeatedly said they have seen no evidence of criminal wrongdoing.
State election monitors in Broward County told The Miami Herald on Saturday that they’ve seen no evidence of voter fraud. And Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg, a Democrat, said he has seen no evidence of voter fraud in the county. In addition, the state agency tasked with overseeing elections said it is not investigating any claims of voter fraud.
There’s also a dark irony in Trump’s demand coming on Veterans Day: If the recount were to be halted immediately, it would have the effect of disenfranchising overseas military personnel who submitted absentee ballots that can be tallied until November 16.
The president is far from the only Republican pushing evidence-free allegations of fraud. Shortly before Trump tweeted his claim that “An honest vote count is no longer possible” on Monday morning, Republican Gov. Rick Scott, whose lead over incumbent Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson has shrunk to less than 13,000 at last count, went on Fox & Friends and accused Nelson of “trying to steal an election.”
During a Fox News appearance on Sunday, Scott was even more explicit, accusing Nelson of “clearly trying to commit fraud to win this election.”
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) has also cited a mistake Broward County officials made with 22 improperly cast ballots that were accidentally mixed in with valid provisional ones to make dark insinuations about possible widespread voter fraud.
#BrowardElections office admits the vote count they submitted to state includes 22 illegal votes.— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) November 10, 2018
We know about these 22 because they got caught breaking law in reviewing 202 ballots. How can anyone trust more illegal votes aren’ in their final count?https://t.co/DiLApbnGbx
In fact, the allegations made by Trump, Rubio, Scott, and others have been debunked by Scott’s own election monitors.
During a news conference last week, Scott asked state law enforcement to investigate “rampant fraud” related to the election. On Saturday, Florida State Department spokesperson Sarah Revell followed up in an email to reporters announcing that “Our staff has seen no evidence of criminal activity at this time.” The Washington Examiner reports, “Two staffers from Scott’s Department of Elections have been stationed in Broward County since at least Nov. 6 to oversee the administration of election processes,” and neither has reported any evidence of criminal activity.
Trump’s true concern appears to be making sure as many Republicans win elections as possible: Last Friday, he pushed similarly evidence-free accusations of fraud about the US Senate election in Arizona, where Republican Martha McSally now appears to have lost to Democrat Kyrsten Sinema after being slightly ahead on election night.
Just out — in Arizona, SIGNATURES DON’T MATCH. Electoral corruption - Call for a new Election? We must protect our Democracy!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 9, 2018
Trump’s tweet was seemingly in response to a Fox News segment that had just run about the Arizona Republican Party suing over the handling of ballots where there were issues with a voter’s signature. As Vox explained, the lawsuit actually “is about consistency in how the state matches signatures between ballots and voters, and whether voters should be called to verify their votes.” It has nothing to do with “Electoral corruption,” as Trump put it.