For months on end, the entire nation, waited for November 6th to come around – the day of the Midterm elections. For many, beginning with our president on down the line, these elections were crucial in terms of who would end up with control of the Senate and the House of Representatives. 35 of the 100 seats in the Senate and 435 seats in the House were contested. Among them, our own Florida race with Republican governor Rick Scott running for the Senate seat occupied by democrat Bill Nelson for eighteen years and Ron-DeSantis running for the governorship of the state in the vacant seat left by Rick Scott.
DeSantis’ opponent Andrew Gillum is an up-and-up, radical left extremist, who can easily give both, Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a run for their money with his ultra-liberal agenda. Not to say, that both Nelson and Gillum were favorites in the pre-election polls. Matter of fact, right up to election day, most pollsters had Gillum leading DeSantis by close to 7 points and Bill Nelson leading over Rick Scott by 4 points.
But, once again, God worked His magic and, just like He did in 2016 with the Trump victory, in the early hours of Wednesday, November 7th, both Scott and DeSantis were declared winners in both their races by most news agencies, albeit by razor-thin margins. Shortly thereafter, both losers conceded to their opponents, and, no sooner were the champagne bottles being sabered, no sooner was the Republican’s short-lived elation cut short by the announcement that the margins on both these races was so, so narrow, there would probably be a need for a ballot recount.
To be clear, the objective of my narrative today is to put the recount issue in a sensible perspective for you all to understand what is going on. I often find that when this type of controversies occurs, most of us, myself included, get lost amidst the pervasive last-minute headline news offered by the national media in a never-ending appetite for sensationalism.
The very first thing all of us here in Florida must understand is that under Title IX, of the Florida Statutes, a vote recount is mandatory if the winning candidate’s margin is less than 0.50 percentage points when the first unofficial count is verified. If the margin is less than 0.25 percent, the recount must be done manually. The vote recount criteria are much more complex, however, for the sake of clarity I will spare you, some of the other contingencies as incidental and immaterial to the scope of our narrative today.
So, why don’t I try and run through a brief timeline of the events that have transpired. First, on Wednesday, November 7th, races were too close to call. Nelson trailed Scott by 34,435 votes, equivalent to 0.42 percentage points on a total of 8.2 million votes. Gillum’s deficit to DeSantis of 33,663 was equal to 0.41 percent. As both races were under the 0.50 percent threshold, both triggered an automatic machine recount. [See above].
Throughout the entire day in the aftermath of the elections on Wednesday, November 7th, 65 out 67 counties had turned in their ballot counts. Only two counties, Broward and Palm Beach were still counting their votes, raising suspicions that something was very wrong considering some of the more populous counties, like Dade County, had already turned-in their ballot-counts. Broward was then asked to report on the number of ballots pending to be counted, albeit ostentatiously failing to do so.
Democrats, meantime, wasted no time in reporting irregularities, such as was a deviant percentage of voters in Broward County, who had marked their ballots for the gubernatorial candidates but left the Senate ballot-line blank. This brought back memories of the 2000 presidential elections of Bush vs. Gore, when the ill-famed “butterfly ballots” materially altered election results – referring to a bad ballot design with punch holes in the center of the ballot which confused voters. Nowadays, the center punch no longer is used and was substituted, instead, by oval bubble-like circles filled by voters.
The lateness in Broward County’s vote count raised all kinds of red flags throughout a nation, who had been psychologically indoctrinated, throughout the years, to expect anomalies from the State of Florida – historically a bastion of democratic support. Ironically, just like that and just as suspected by many Republicans, the late counts resulted in shortening of margins separating the races, more so in the Nelson / Scott duel. By Thursday, November 8th, Nelson’s margin of difference had shrunk from 34,435 to 21,888 – marking the start of the fireworks between both parties.
The narrowing of the margin separating the candidates triggered a flurry of legal actions as the two sides accused each other of trying to steal the elections and figured that the courts should intervene – several lawsuits were promptly filed. Veteran recount attorney Marc Elias became Bill Nelson’s legal representative. Elias claimed to have come to Florida, not to count votes, but to win the election on behalf of his client – a rather condescending and patronizing statement, as if elections were won or lost by the will of one attorney and/or the ruling on a court of law – outright disgusting if you ask me.
On Friday, November 9th, Elias filed a lawsuit against the Florida Secretary of State demanding a state count of absentee and provisional ballots which had been previously disqualified because of signature mismatches. On the Republican side, meantime, Matthew Gaetz, a representative from Florida’s 1st district, along with Florida Senator Marco Rubio, ex-governor Jeb Bush and candidate Rick Scott himself, all, individually and separately, demanded for legal inquiries to be conducted into Brenda Snipes, Broward’s Supervisor of Elections, for the possible mishandling of ballots.
Snipes had a trail of corruption, dating back to 2003 – the year she took the post of Elections Supervisor. All in the Republican band-wagon called for the removal of Snipes claiming she was incompetent at best, corrupt at worst. “Snipes had a long history of misconduct, including preemptively destroying and manipulating ballots”. Ironically, on Friday, November 9th, Circuit Judge Carol-Lisa Phillips, concurred with Republicans and said that: “Broward Elections Chief Brenda Snipes was in violation of Florida public records laws” by virtue of the fact that she was reluctant to provide voting information requested by the Scott camp. Judge Phillips then ordered Snipes to turn over to the Scott’s campaign representatives an accounting of total ballots cast and a breakdown of votes by category – all due in by 7:00 p.m. of Friday, November 9th. As of this writing, I was not able to find out whether Snipes had complied with the Court’s order.
By Saturday, November 10th, all 67 counties, including Broward and Palm Beach reported unofficial election results to Secretary of State Ken Detzner, who ordered a statewide machine recount of over 8.2 million ballots in 3 separate Florida races for U.S. Senate, Governor and Agriculture Commissioner in Palm Beach. DeSantis’ margin in his race for governor remained, for the most part, unchanged with an approximate margin of difference of 33,000 votes, while Scott’s lead over Nelson continued to shrink to approximately 12,562 votes equivalent to 0.15 percentage points.
Also, on Saturday, November 10th, Gillum joined-in Nelson’s democratic brethren retracting his concession of losing his race to DeSantis. The recount was set to begin on Monday, November 11th, at 7:00 a.m., with a deadline set for 3:00 p.m. on Thursday, November 15th – all the while, as the world had Florida on a magnifying glass and the preemptive assumption there would ample time for Broward to have its votes turned-in by the November 15th deadline.
On, Sunday, November 11th, the very first day in the start of the recount, however, Broward County’s woes continued as a series of technical glitches with the machinery delayed the scheduled recount of more than 700,000 ballots. Making matters worse, observers discovered there were 22 improperly cast ballots, which should have been voided earlier due to mismatched signatures. It was noted that this and other violations had been audaciously included in the final vote count reported on Saturday to Broward County’s Secretary of State – these illegal votes were part of batch of 205 provisional ballots reviewed by the Broward canvassing board on Friday evening -the night before the ballots were turned-in.
In lieu of all anomalies and incongruities observed, governor Scott filed a lawsuit requesting that the Florida Department of Law Enforcement [FDLE] and the Sheriff’s Office impound and secure all voting machines, tallying devices and ballots when not in use during the recount. On Wednesday, November 14th, new problems arose as Palm Beach County’s tallying machines overheated causing mismatched results with the recount of 174,000 early voting ballots. Palm Beach County Elections Supervisor Susan Bucher said the County’s 11-year-old machine were having overheating problems as totals added-up, didn’t match earlier results!
So…where are we and what is the latest in the saga? I am writing this narrative and it is 1:00 p.m. in the afternoon of Thursday, November 15th. As of noon today, Palm Beach Elections Supervisor Bucher said the likelihood of completing the recount by the state-mandated 3:00 p.m. deadline today is “very slim”. You know what that means, don’t you? Further delays, maybe? U.S. District Judge Mark Walker today, ruled that current Florida law on mail-in ballots placed a substantial burden on voters. Walker disagreed with a request from Democrats to count all ballots with mismatched signatures. Instead, he ordered local officials to give voters until 5 p.m. Saturday to correct the problem so their ballots could be counted. State officials testified in court that nearly 4,000 ballots had already been rejected because local canvassing boards decided the signature that was mailed-in did not match the signature on file.
The machine recount deadline is now two hours from now at 3:00 p.m., today and, barring some melodramatic last-minute Court action requested by Democrats to extend the deadline, the latter will take effect, notwithstanding the fact that some counties have already forewarned that they may not make the deadline after all. The recount, however, may, indeed, bring an end to the circus. As of this writing, Republican candidate Ron DeSantis leads Democrat Andrew Gillum by 0.41 percentage points in unofficial results, yet race results will not be made official until next Tuesday.
In the U.S Senate race, Republican Rick Scott is ahead of Nelson by 0.14 percentage points, which almost certainly will send it to yet another recount which will last well throughout the weekend. My personal observation is that, while results must be presented to the state’s canvassing board for final approval scheduled for next week, both candidates will hold-on to their wins. Rarely, are races like these overturned, specially with the number of votes that separate the candidates. My prediction is that both Scott and DeSantis will win their races, however, I also anticipate that the official confirmation of the results may be delayed further than next week as more legal loopholes are satisfied in the democrats’ impudent quest for changing the election results – not surprising and/or unexpected. We will, however, I predict, have both candidates confirmed within the next 30 days.
Before closing, however, I have several final comments on this loathsome narrative, which I deem indispensable to share with you all and the world. If you paid close attention there are various poignantly redundant issues that come to mind with everything that has taken place. The very first issue that comes to mind is that of Florida being at the epicenter of elections controversies year in and year out – It is now almost accepted as conventional wisdom that Florida will have voting problems. We are, in fact, the laughing stock of the nation.
It is a fact that Florida is [the] most purple state in the nation and has inherently become the potential vote-swinging capital in the Union – capable of changing the outcome of an election. It is, therefore, of no coincidence that corruption has run rampant for years now. Going as far back as 18 years, during the Bush vs. Gore presidential election of 2000, Florida earned its unenviable place in history for tampering with election results – a dishonor which holds true to this day.
Throughout all this time, since 2000, Florida has dealt with issues such as posting election results publicly before polls closed; uncounted ballots have been found after polls had closed; there have been destruction of ballots before the time prescribed by law; uncounted ballots have found after closing of polls, just to mention a few. Now, one must wonder, why have we allowed so much corruption to go on for so many years? Why is it that a corrupt Election’s Supervisor is still in the office while evidence of malfeasance is so prevalently obvious?
Well, do not kid yourselves folks, Brenda Snipes has held her office since 2003. That is for the last 15 years, Snipes has been Broward’s Election Supervisor, while being re-elected to the office by Broward voters – Democratic voters to be sure. Again, no strange coincidence if you consider the fact that Broward’s Democrat base considers Snipes sort of an insurance card for manipulating election results in their [Democrat’s] favor. Smart ah?
But, really, I blame not Snipes nor Broward’s voters for re-electing her to her post. Honestly, I really lay all the blame for having Snipes on her post on Jeb Bush. Notably, Bush did what the Bush clan does best, to wit, they are all about being “politically correct” and the Snipes appointment was no exception. In 2003, then governor Bush replaced Miriam Oliphant, a black woman, with her own history marred with corruption allegations, replacing her with Snipes – another black democrat.
Last but not least, to have to hear about 11-year-old voting machines overheating is nothing short of a disgrace, albeit the epitome of a double-standard if I ever heard of one – on the one hand, we are told by all with some political stature, both Democrats and Republicans alike, how critical and crucial our votes are – they are sacred or so they claim. Again, on the one hand we spend trillions of dollars year in and year out in countless government expenditures, but we are unable to spend a few dollars on voting machines? What am I missing here?
In closing, in a way I am kind of glad that this Florida recount deal surfaced the way it did. I say, this is a prelude of what we can expect in the 2020 elections – only then the vote fraud and manipulation could even be steeper considering the pervasive growth of Trump-haters, as compared to the 2016 elections, paving the way for even more irregularities to take place come the next election. I say, we have two years to clean house. I would urge all Florida voters to speak their mind. We must get rid of all corrupted election officers at whatever costs. We must encourage the Trump administration as well as our state government officials to allocate money earmarked specifically for updating our voting machines. In ending, I just want to offer both candidates Scott and DeSantis my heartfelt congratulations on winning their races. But, most of all, I want to congratulate all Republican voters in the State of Florida for these candidate’s win – a blessing in disguise for all Floridians. Finally, I want, most of all, thank God for, once again, working His magic in a last-minute unexpected turn-around of the expectations – no matter how long we have to wait and no matter how many obstacles we need to overcome, our win will prevail – I say, it will prevail no matter how many “recounts” are made. May God save us all.