Atilla Sulker | United States
The recent midterm elections yet again exemplify the volatility of Florida politics. Like in the 2000 presidential election in which Bush defeated Gore by a small margin following a recount, the sunshine state continues to be plagued by a great confusion in regards to who has been elected.
Florida has been a key swing state for some time. As recent as the 2016 presidential election, it has been the focus of electoral controversy. Then-presidential candidate Donald Trump defeated his opponent Hillary Clinton by a margin of less than 2 percent in the State- Trump leading with 49% and Clinton barely trailing with 47.8%.
In the most recent Senate election, incumbent Florida Republican Governor Rick Scott defeated incumbent Democratic U.S. Senator Bill Nelson by a very slim margin of less than 0.5%. Scott won by a mere 12,562 votes, i.e. by 0.2 percentage points. Counties leaning in Nelson’s favor include Miami-Dade, Leon, and Broward Counties. Scott claimed a larger percentage of votes in Miami-Dade than did presidential contender Donald Trump in 2016.
Florida law requires that if a candidate wins by a margin of 0.5% or less, an automatic recount is triggered. Governor Scott filed a lawsuit on November 8th, making the accusation of election fraud. Scott boldly proclaimed: “I will not stand idly by while unethical liberals try to steal an election”. Scott was leading Nelson by around 57,000 votes at the close of the election, but this lead diminished to less than 15,000 within a few days.
Scott also appeared on Hannity recently where he expressed his disappointment with Senator Nelson, accusing his lawyers of trying to steal the election and referring to Nelson as a “career politician”.
In response to Scott’s accusations, on November 8th, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum tweeted: “Mr.
@FLGovScott — counting votes isn’t partisan — it’s democracy. Count every vote”.
Broward County has been the center of focus in the election controversy, where a large wave of new votes were discovered after election night. Scott stated on Hannity: “We don’t know how many more votes they’re gonna come up with, but it sure appears they’re gonna keep finding as many votes as it takes to try to win this election”.
Trump responded to the Broward County incident on November 9th: “Mayor Gillum conceded on Election Day and now Broward County has put him “back into play.” Bill Nelson conceded Election – now he’s back in play!? This is an embarrassment to our Country and to Democracy!”
On November 10th, Trump also tweeted: “Trying to STEAL two big elections in Florida! We are watching closely!”
Mayor Gillum, in response to Trump’s November 9th tweet, tweeted:” What’s embarrassing to democracy is not counting every vote — and you, of course. Count every vote.”
One twitter user under the name MaximusM76? who claims to be a supporter of Gillum responded to Gillum: “You are wrong Sir. I voted for you.. but you are wrong. NOT every vote should be counted. Fraudulent votes, which encompass several categories, should not count.”
Along with the senatorial race, the gubernatorial race in Florida has also been subject to much controversy. On election night, Representative Ron Desantis was leading Mayor Gillum by enough votes to bypass the 0.5% recount margin, but by November 10th, this lead had shrunk enough to fall within the margin of half a percent.
Gillum announced his concession from the race on election night, but retracted this concession on November 10th. Gillum loudly issued his clarion call: “I am replacing my earlier concession with an unapologetic and uncompromised call to count every vote.”
Florida continues to show its swing state characteristics and its evenly split tendencies. Rick Scott beat his 2010 gubernatorial opponent Alex Sink and 2014 opponent Charlie Crist by margins near 1 percent. These races remain hotly contested, but the razor-thin margins of this month’s elections and the mandatory recounts underscore that it is not an understatement to focus on the significance of the impact of small margins in any major Florida race.
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