- - Sunday, November 11, 2018

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Electoral reform is no longer a matter of good government, but self-preservation for those, whether Democrat or Republican, who understand it’s important to hold honest elections. Until now the focus of reformers has been on preventing fraud at the polls by requiring voter identification and tightening registration rules. But that’s only half the battle.

The other half is about getting a fair count, and just as important as a fair count is a fair recount. Counting votes a second time is, for several reasons, an ideal time to steal an election, and Florida, the birthplace of the hanging chad, is the best place to try.

Gov. Rick Scott, a Republican, trying to unseat the incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson in Florida, has watched his relatively comfortable lead in Florida dissolve in a convenient flood of Democratic votes. No one can explain where these convenient votes came from, or why they appeared at such a convenient time. One ballot box, properly identified, showed up from a convenient hiding place in an elementary school. How it got there, no one knows. U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, also a Republican, thought he was elected governor on Tuesday night, only learned later in the week that he hadn’t been. His substantial lead had shrunk, too. Recounts are thought to be necessary.

“Late Tuesday night,” Gov. Scott says, “our win was projected to be around 57,000 votes. By Wednesday morning, that lead dropped to 38,000. By Wednesday evening, it was around 30,000. This morning, it was around 21,000. Now, it is 15,000. On election night, Broward County said there were 634,000 votes cast. At 1 a.m. today, there were 695,700 ballots cast on election day. At 2:30 p.m. today, the number was up to 707,223 ballots cast on election day. And we just learned that the number has increased to 712,840 ballots cast on election day.” Final numbers will be available, apparently, when Democratic officials in Broward, Dade and Palm Beach counties, which are heavily Democratic, learn how many votes their Democratic candidates will need.

The polls have been closed for nearly a week, and uncounted ballots just keep turning up. County officials can’t or won’t explain where those votes, aging like old wine, have been. Florida seems to have replaced Illinois and Louisiana as the place where imaginative vote-counting has been perfected. The late Gov. Earl Long of Louisiana once boasted that “I can make voting machines play ‘Home on the Range,’” and it’s a skill not restricted to the bayou. Gov. Scott was right to sue to get to the bottom of what happened on the Florida range election night.



In 2016 the American Civil Rights Union (ACRU) — not to be confused with the similarly named American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) — sued Broward County election supervisor Brenda Snipe for not obeying federal law requiring her to keep accurate voter rolls. She had declined to remove ineligible voters from the roles, as required by the U.S. National Voter Registration Act. Two years ago nearly 100 percent of the county’s population was registered to vote, a mark that would have been envied in North Korea.

“[Broward] County is once again casting a pall over Florida’s elections, just like in 2000,” says Ken Blackwell, a senior fellow at the ACRU and the former secretary of State of Ohio. “Elections are about decisions and certainty. The government cannot function in a rudderless way. The state of Florida must get to the root of these egregious irregularities to restore confidence in the electoral system.”

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