Here we go again! As that noted philosopher, Yogi Berra, might have said, it is “deja vu all over again.” It seems that in every election cycle there are substantive issues with the validity of the vote count in Florida. For example, many of us remember the “hanging chad” controversy in the 2000 presidential election between Al Gore and George W. Bush. That one went all the way to the Supreme Court before being resolved.
This time, the controversy involves two very important races – the Senate race between GOP Rick Scott and Dem Bill Nelson and the governor’s race between GOP Ron DeSantis and Dem Andrew Gillum. It is now ten days after Election Day, and we still don’t have a definitive winner in these races. As I write this, the latest, as reported in the “Washington Post” is that the Senate race is close enough (within .25%) to trigger a mandated statewide recount. On the other hand, DeSantis’ margin over Gillum remains wide enough to avoid such a recount, and his victory will likely be certified next week. However, Gillum has still not conceded. He is claiming that “tens of thousands of votes … have yet to be counted,” and it appears he will challenge the election results in the courts. He has issued the catchy phrase “a vote denied is justice denied” to support his case.
Both the original vote and the recounts have engendered much controversy with both sides levelling charges and countercharges. The focal point seems to be Broward and Palm Beach counties. As reported in the “WP” there have been many instances of irregularities such as questionable veracity of signatures on mail-in ballots and improperly completed ballots. Moreover, as reported in the “WP” and various other media outlets, these counties have failed to meet various legally mandated deadlines for completing the vote counting process, casting doubt as to the validity of the elections.
As part of the manual recount election officials will be inspecting some undervote or overvote ballots to try to assess the voter’s “intent.” Perhaps, some of these ballots, which had been ruled ineligible, will be counted. Good luck with that. “Hanging chad” part 2.
President Trump and others have questioned whether or not an “honest vote” (count) is still possible. Some on the far left media have trotted out that old reliable, “racism,” to explain” Gillum’s defeat. In addition, Hillary Clinton has made this accusation with respect to the governor’s race in Georgia where the Dem candidate, Stacey Abrams, an African American woman, lost in a close race. All this hyperbole is inappropriate and distracting from the central issue, which is the integrity of the elections.
The only adult in the room has been US District Judge Mark Walker. While adjudicating legal challenges to the elections in question Walker issued the most telling opinion of all the vote-counting ineptitudes. He opined “we have been the laughing stock of the world election after election. But we’ve still not chosen to fix this.” I am not sure whether he was referring to Broward County, the State of Florida, or the US as a whole. Take your pick.
In some ways, the center of all this controversy is an obscure bureaucrat named Brenda Snipes, the Broward County Supervisor of Elections. Incidentally, the fact that we even know her name is an indictment of her job performance. According to Wikipedia there are 3,007 counties in the US. Do you know the Supervisor of Elections in any other of them, even the one where you live? I would guess not.
Snipes was appointed by then-Governor, Jeb Bush, in 2003. Her predecessor had gotten the “boot,” for, as reported in the “Guardian,” “malfeasance.” Her tenure has not been an improvement. As some of you know, this year’s vote- counting fiasco is not Snipes’ first bout with controversy and ineptitude. For instance:
1. In the 2004 Presidential Election some 58,000 mail-in ballots were somehow not delivered, requiring election workers to scurry around to replace them.
2. In 2012, approximately 1,000 uncounted ballots were discovered a week after the election.
3. Contrary to election law she destroyed ballots in a 2016 primary election without having waited the mandated 22 months.
4. This year, her office distributed a sample ballot that did not even resemble the real ballot. Obviously, this confused many voters, causing some to undervote or overvote. There have been contradictory claims as to whether or not some of these votes were counted, or should be.
5. Broward County has repeatedly missed deadlines for counting and certifying votes.
She is either a master manipulator or a grossly incompetent manager. Either way, she should be replaced before the 2020 election.
I don’t want to get bogged down in the nitty gritty of these aforementioned elections. Suffice to say, the whole mess is embarrassing and totally unnecessary. I don’t blame the losers for demanding recounts. But, at some point, they have to let the election results stand. I have not seen any proof of fraud. Incompetence, yes, but not fraud, although I am concerned that the possibility exists for fraud prospectively. Does anybody else find it ironic that some of us are so concerned with the Russians hacking or otherwise interfering with our election process, yet we allow such incompetence of our own election officials to continue?
At the same time, I have not seen any evidence supporting claims of racism. Too often, when the Dems lose a race they blame racism, or misogynism or some other “ism.” They should realize that they lost because they needed a better candidate. In my opinion, the simple answer is that some of Gillum’s and Abrams’ policies were too liberal for the electorates in Florida and Georgia, respectively. Next time, nominate a more mainstream candidate.
Irrespective of the foregoing, my overriding concern (as should be everyone’s)is that, in the end, the public accept the validity of the election results. After all, free and fair elections are the cornerstone of our system of government, and nothing should cast suspicion on them. If we don’t have faith in them, we have nothing.