MIAMI – Trump’s conspiracy theory collapsed after the Florida law enforcement agency said it had not found widespread voter fraud in the 2018 Senate and governor race.
President Donald Trump has repeatedly complained of fraud and “election theft” in the heavily populated, affluent Democrat districts of Broward and Palm Beach, which slowly but irregularly updated their vote after election day closed.
With each updated calculation, Republican candidates Rick Scott, who was running for the U.S. Senate, and Ron DeSantis, in an offer for the governor’s mansion, saw that their victory margin was narrowing. Both races eventually turned into a countdown.
It is common for election boundaries to change as more ballots are counted, but Scott, who was governor at the time, claims without evidence that the enumerators were trying for democratic fraud, a conspiracy theory that Trump reinforced on Twitter. Scott called for an investigation. Trump supported him.
“Law enforcement is looking for another major corruption scandal involving election fraud in #Broward and Palm Beach. Florida votes for Rick Scott! ” wrote Trump on November 8, 2018.,,
On Twitter the next day, the president falsely accused the Democrats to send “their best lawyer for election theft, Mark Elias, to Broward County, they miraculously began to find Democrat votes. Don’t worry, Florida – I’m sending much better lawyers to expose FRADA! ”
But neither Trump’s unnamed “lawyers” nor the Florida Department of Law Enforcement found evidence of a “major corruption scandal.” It took the state more than 17 months to complete its investigation on Wednesday and found none of the injustices alleged by Trump and Scott.
At the time, Trump’s interest in running for the Senate and governor went beyond the usual guerrilla support for Republican candidates. Scott and Desantis are among the president’s closest allies, and Florida may decide its political future while running for re-election.
Trump’s corrupt conspiracy in Florida disintegrated when he tried to discredit efforts to vote by mail in two other states on the battlefield, Michigan and Nevada, with passionate and false rhetoric. As Trump tweeted fake mail messages in those states, the Florida GOP sent a fundraising email urging donors to “Stop Voter Fraud.”
The president’s attacks on postal voting have increased in recent months as demand for mail ballots increased during the coronavirus outbreak. Polls consistently show that Trump is slightly behind Joe Biden before the November election.
In the 2016 Republican First in Florida, Trump unfoundedly complained about “unfair” voting and falsely accused his opponent, Senator Marco Rubio, from working with the Republican chairman, “and their servants … to falsify the vote.” Trump stopped complaining after winning the primary.
But he intensified his complaints before the general election with conspiracy theories about fake voting, which Republicans in the West have condemned as Idaho and Washington as fake. After Trump won the Electoral College but lost the popular vote, he said that in 2016, California had illegal voters.
Following the non-profit association PolitFact, a non-partisan fact-checking organization which claims to be lying about ‘pants’, Trump repeated it at a briefing at the White House in April.
Election officials and experts expect high voter turnout in November and an increase in the number of people who send ballots by mail, much for the first time in countries with little experience in managing mailing programs or large volumes of ballots. This is a recipe for a longer and slower vote count and, if elections are close in battle zones like Florida, more potential for fraud claims, as the total number of votes changes after the ballot box closes, especially in the southeastern city of Florida. .
“Short-term ballots are usually targeted at Democrats,” said Michael MacDonald, a professor of political science at the University of Florida who specializes in mail voting.
“It’s not an iron-clad law, but the phenomenon is so widespread that it has a name: the blue shift,” MacDonald said. “This also happened in California in 2018. But the perception is that something wicked is happening here, with these ballots being counted late or after election day, but I don’t want to imply that something is either illegal or wrong. “
During the 2018 Florida election, mismanagement – especially in the alarming office of former Broward County Election Chief Brenda Snipes – made the voting waistline look suspicious.
Instead of constantly updating the election system on election night by counting ballots, Broward staff uploaded tens of thousands of ballots at irregular times late at night. Due to the large size of the county and the county’s electorate, the new ballots caused margins across the country to shift abruptly in favor of Democrats.
As Republican margins shrank, Trump stepped up his misleading attacks on “the Broward effect“From” found “votes and later”missing or forged“Newsletters. He generally tweeted theories and complaints about the Florida election 10 times a week.
Two days after the election, Scott was dangerously close to losing his Senate candidacy to oust former Bill Nelson. He held a rare press conference at the governor’s mansion to request an investigation and said he was suing Palm Beach and Broward counties.
“Every Florida should be concerned that there may be violent voter fraud in Palm Beach and Broward counties,” Scott said, without providing any evidence. “I will not sit idly by while unethical liberals try to steal this election from the great people of Florida.”
Initially, Florida law enforcement officers expelled him, seeing no trace of the fraud described by Scott. But Scott and Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi demanded an investigation. Bondi will later represent Trump during his impeachment.
The landing party was silent and eventually won the governor’s mansion by less than half a percent after recalculation. Scott won by less than a quarter.
Investigators in Florida also addressed three unrelated election issues from 2018. They found no evidence that Republicans were illegally blocked by witnesses to the Broward recount. And they concluded that there was no evidence that Democrats were cheating when they tried to help voters fix the problematic missing ballots.
However, investigators found that a Panhandall election leader in a difficult Republican district, who is being tried by Hurricane Michael, may have broken the law by allowing dozens of votes to be emailed and counted. State prosecutors said there was too little evidence to prosecute.
A White House spokesman for Trump referred questions about the Florida findings to the president’s campaign. A campaign spokesman did not respond to a request for comment.
Scott’s spokesman Chris Hartline said the senator and his staff “appreciate the hard work” of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
“Senator Scott’s goal has always been 100% participation and 0% fraud,” Hartline wrote in an email. “During the 2018 census, some supervisory elections openly disregarded state laws that were intended to prevent fraud, confirmed by numerous court decisions. “
Until the Florida Department of Law Enforcement found fraud, the new Broward County election supervisor, Pete Antonacci, did so.
Reviewing the 2018 election, Republican Antonachi found 21 cases of people who voted illegally twice and one case of a non-citizen who voted illegally. Of the more than 709,180 ballots filed in the county, these cases led to potential fraud of up to 0.003 percent.
Antonacci referred the cases last year to the office of Attorney General Broward Mike Satz. A spokesman for the service was unable to provide status to the POLITICO cases.
Antonacci “does not believe that there is widespread voter fraud,” said spokesman Steve Vancore.
And requests for absentee ballots in Broward are multiplying amid the coronavirus pandemic, even as Republicans, who once accepted a postal vote, are increasingly complaining of fraud, he said.
Charles Franklin, a political scientist and pollist at the University of Wisconsin Market, said Trump added a postal vote to GOP’s list of concerns about election security, noting that there was a “touch of irony after North Carolina” where a Republican operative criminal charges for revoking absent ballots in a congressional competition, a rare case in which mail fraud occurred that led to major elections.
Miami, which had a history of shady elections, had a highly professional absentee ballot case in 1997 that canceled a Republican mayoral race. The following year, Republicans in Florida won a narrow seat in the U.S. Senate thanks to absent ballots.
And even while complaining about the postal vote, Trump himself launched an absentee ballot in the presidential primary earlier this year in Florida, where he recently declared his residence.
He continues to attack postal voting and increases the spectrum of election fraud, even when a recently appointed campaign aide returns.
Republican concerns about election security have increased significantly since the 2000 census in Florida. But Republicans are becoming more inclined to talk about election fraud, Franklin said, after the ballots mailed the Washington Gov. race for Democrats in 2004 and the Minnesota Senate race shifted Democrats in 2008 after the census. .
Franklin said he understood why people would be suspicious of the election results that change after the recount, but the reaction to the 2018 Florida election made no sense.
“Now what happened in Florida, oh my God!” he said, alluding to a useful surprise in the Midwest. “It simply came to our notice then. Late counting can come from a highly democratic area of the state – or from a republican area, whatever slows down the count – and that changes the results across the country. “
Gary Fineout contributed to this report.