Trump demands end to Florida recount in new attack on voting rights
15 November 2018
The intervention by President Donald Trump in the Florida elections, demanding that all vote counting be halted and the Republican candidates for governor and US senator be declared elected, is an attack on democratic norms whose logical conclusion is presidential dictatorship. It would mean disenfranchising hundreds of thousands of Florida voters.
Nothing outrageous or even unusual is taking place in the Florida recount, where the procedures for handling a closely contested election are set by law and are being followed by local officials, both Republican and Democratic, under the eyes of party observers and large numbers of journalists.
County officials are counting ballots that were not tabulated on Election Day because of time constraints, limitations on machine capacity, or procedural issues—military votes, for example, may be postmarked by Election Day and are still arriving in the mail.
Florida state law requires a machine recount, essentially re-running the machine tabulation for each precinct, when a contest is within half a percent of the vote. The two main statewide contests are well within this margin. In the Senate race, Republican Rick Scott leads incumbent Democrat Bill Nelson by only 0.15 percent of the vote. In the governor’s race, Republican Ron DeSantis leads Democrat Andrew Gillum by 0.41 percent.
The Scott campaign first tried to block the machine recount, with (unsuccessful) court suits and then sought to compel counties to meet a 3 p.m. Thursday deadline for the recount. Counties that missed the deadline, the Republicans argued, should forfeit their right to add in the previously uncounted ballots, even when they encountered technical problems—machines broke down in…