Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) appeared on Fox News Sunday the weekend after the midterm elections and accused his opponent, Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson, of trying to commit fraud.
Since election night on Tuesday, Scott has accused Democrats of trying to “steal” the Senate election by counting thousands of legitimate absentee and provisional ballots cast in the state’s most populous counties. At a press conference late last week, Scott blamed his tightening lead on voter fraud.
“No rag-tag group of liberal activists or lawyers from D.C. will be allowed to steal this election from the voters in the State of Florida,” he said.
Fox News host Chris Wallace asked the governor on Sunday if he had any evidence to support his assertion. Predictably, he did not, but that didn’t stop him from directly accusing Nelson of fraud.
“Sen. Nelson is clearly trying to commit fraud to try to win this election, that’s all this is,” he said, to an incredulous Wallace.
Scott, still failing to present any evidence of fraud, then proceeded to lie about what is actually transpiring in his own state.
“[Sen. Nelson’s] lawyer said that a non-citizen should vote, that’s one,” said Scott, falsely.
“He’s gone to trial and said that fraudulent ballots should be counted. Ballots have already been thrown out because they were not done properly, he says those should be counted.”
“And you think that is the senator himself is committing fraud?” asked a dumbfounded Wallace.
“Well, it’s his team,” said Scott, leaving the host momentarily speechless.
Addressing Scott’s allegations in order: The lead recount attorney for Sen. Nelson’s campaign, Marc Elias, did not say non-citizens should be allowed to vote. Quite the opposite, in fact.
Scott’s accusation stems from a single unofficial court transcript in which an unidentified lawyer, acting on his own, raised an unspecified objection to a judge throwing out a single ballot because the voter in question was a non-citizen.
Immediately after the incident, Elias told reporters, unequivocally, “The lawyer who was present was not someone we had authorized to make such an objection. Non-citizens cannot vote in U.S. elections.”
Second, Scott appears to be equivocating “fraudulent ballots” — that is, ballots being knowingly submitted illegally — and ballots that were “not done properly.” There are very important distinctions between the two, and as yet, nobody — Scott included — has brought forward any evidence to suggest a single fraudulent ballot has been counted.
Instead, Scott is accusing Floridians of making mistakes when filling out their legitimate ballots, mistakes which the Nelson campaign says shouldn’t necessarily disqualify a voter from having his or her ballot counted. One of the most common of these is the so-called “signature problem.”
If a mail-in ballot is missing a signature, or if the signature on the ballot doesn’t perfectly match the signature that the state has on file — signatures which, in some cases, can be years, or even decades old — an election worker can deem that ballot invalid. It might seem like an easy mistake to avoid, but even former Congressman Patrick Murphy, who represented Florida’s 18th district for four years, had his 2018 ballot ruled invalid because of the signature law.
Another common issue is voter registrations that were submitted or received after the state deadline. If a voter didn’t make the October 9 registration deadline, his or her ballot was also thrown out on Election Day. One notable Floridian is now fighting the state after officials discarded her ballot: former Trump administration official Omarosa Manigault Newman.
Lawyers for Nelson and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum are arguing that many of these discarded ballots should be re-examined to ensure legitimate votes aren’t thrown out.
Opponents of the democratic election process, like Scott and others, have sought to portray the shifting margins as a mysterious case of votes being “found,” but as Sen. Nelson himself said in response to those accusations last week, “votes are not being found, they’re being counted.”
Many of these mail-in ballots now being counted are cast by military service members serving overseas or on bases out of state, and yet, on Veteran’s Day, Gov. Scott insisted that those military voters — and thousands of others — shouldn’t be counted at all.
Despite his repeated insistence of foul play, Scott’s own Department of Law Enforcement has said they have yet to open any investigation into the matter, because Scott’s campaign has failed to present any specific instance of fraud that can be investigated.