Republicans Are Carrying Out An Assault On Democracy In Florida

Yesterday, Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) sent out a series of  Tweets implying a vast conspiracy was taking place due to his belief that “democratic lawyers are trying to change the results” of this past Tuesday’s election. Governor Rick Scott continues to hold a slim lead  over his opponent, Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL), however, that margin continues to deteriorate as more votes continue to be counted.

According to Mr. Rubio, votes “still being tallied,” should not be counted due to his ignorance of Florida election law. Mr. Rubio cites a portion of the law which requires election officials to report “within thirty minutes after the polls close those ballots which are the result of early voting and vote by mail.”

States Rubio:

“#Florida law requires counties report voting and vote-by-mail within 30 minutes after polls close. 43 hours after polls closed, 2 Democratic strongholds #BrowardCountry & #PalmBeachCounty are still counting & refusing to disclose how many ballots they have left to count.”

As Jerry Iannelli, reporter for the Miami New Times reports, Mr. Rubio is engaging in rhetoric that erodes trust in “the validity of elections.” Iannelli goes on further to argue that Mr. Rubio “is entering InfoWars/Trumpian territory” with his claim.  Iannelli is correct, as he further points out that the election counting is being completed by Republicans when he states:

Rubio is also leaving out some really important details. For one, Snipes was a Jeb Bush appointee, so she’s not exactly an obvious partisan. Two: The person in charge of election recounts at the state level is Secretary of State Ken Detzner, whom Scott appointed to the job.

Detzner and Scott were repeatedly accused of working together to hatch schemes designed to suppressDemocratic votes over the past eight years. It is, frankly, a blatant conflict of interest for Detzner to oversee Scott’s recount, but Rubio isn’t complaining about that here.”

Daniel Sweeney, reporter for the Sun-Sentinel, the daily newspaper for Broward County, Florida, chimed in to correct Rubio’s ignorance of the Florida law by reminding him of the following:

“Florida law requires all early votes and TABULATED vote by mail to be posted then. Unofficial returns have to be submitted to Sec. of State by noon the fourth day after the election–two days from now. It’s all there on the Div. of Elections website of the state you represent.”

But this dosage of reality did not stop conservative commentators and pundits from accusing Florida of being involved in an election conspiracy. As Media Matters reports, a host of these conservatives had taken to the airwaves accusing or intimating that Democrats were “trying to steal the election.”

Sean Hannity suggests Florida is “an illegal plot to steal the election.” Newsmax host, John Cadillo suggested that the “Broward County Supervisor of Elections, Brenda Snipes, will find more votes for Andrew Gillum,” due to that race being a mere .02% away from an automatically triggered recount.  Hugh Hewitt, from MSNBC, claimed “Broward County officials are basically asking Democrats ‘How many [votes] do you need?'”

Media Matters provides the list of conservative media personalities who are piling on the suggestion that foul play is taking place while stating:

“Both before and after Rubio’s tweets, right-wing media have gone into overdrive claiming that Democrats are trying to “steal” the election.”

Even Mr. Trump chimed in with his usual voter fraud allegations by stating in a Tweet:

“Law Enforcement is looking into another big corruption scandal having to do with Election Fraud in #Broward and Palm Beach. Florida voted for Rick Scott!”

Which leads me to my final point: Words have consequences. Should people believe that their vote was not counted and fraud took place, as Iannelli pointed out, it leads to problems.  And now? We have problems in Florida.

Late last night, Mr. Scott has announced that he has filed a lawsuit against election officials in the State of Florida.

Watch the video here for Scott’s appearance on Hannity:

Instead of calming the waters, and allowing the election officials to count each and every vote, what began with Mr. Rubio as a conspiracy has now turned into litigation reminiscent of the Gore Bush election fiasco.

It is one thing for the conservative media to hype up allegations of voter fraud and quite another to have the occupant of our Oval Office cheering the matter on, especially when those tasked with counting each and every vote are Republicans.

Instead of expanding the franchise, Republicans have worked relentlessly to disenfranchise voters while consistently portraying Democrats as “unethical” simply because they want all the votes counted.

With several races still too close to call, it appears Republicans will do whatever it takes to win, despite their poor performance on Tuesday night.