Missed by most of the media in last night’s haste to rightfully name Ron DeSantis as Florida’s Governor-elect, Broward County admitted tossing at least 2,040 extra ballots into the unofficial statewide totals. Those ballots, when tallied during the recount, netted another 765 votes for Republican Matt Caldwell in the Agriculture Commissioner’s race and roughly the same for Rick Scott in his U.S. Senate Race against Bill Nelson. And though Scott is already ahead and likely to win anyway, both he and Caldwell should be credited with those votes.
But yet another Broward County screwup means all those illegal votes for Democrat candidates will not be removed from the statewide total. Broward missed the state’s mandatory deadline by two minutes because the county official responsible for entering the data claimed he wasn’t familiar with the official State of Florida system. Broward did not explain why they tasked an elections official with entering vital vote tabulations into the state’s vote reporting system when they were in danger in missing the reporting deadline.
Hillsborough County, another source for Democrat margins, also failed to meet the recount deadline after a screwup resulted in a discrepancy of more than 800 votes. Those updated totals would have also benefited Matt Caldwell’s race by another 123 votes. Hillsborough officials say they are working to track down how the error happened.
In the Broward case, however, some Republican observers suggest the “screwup” might be intentional to allow Democrats more time to find additional votes.
“Brenda Snipes has a doctorate degree. Can she really be this incompetent at her job?” asked one Republican political operative who declined to be identified for this story. “Or is she playing dumb so that screwup after screwup just becomes the norm, the facts become fuzzy, and Democrats can get away with stealing the Senate race and Ag Commissioner’s race?”
In Caldwell’s situation, removing those illegal votes is vital. That’s because he’s currently trailing Democrat Nikki Fried by 5,307 votes. Removing them would reduce his deficit by 765 votes and would reduce her lead to just 4,542. But there’s more: the forensic trail that helped Broward officials identify the illegal votes would go a long way toward uncovering the truth about the source of the other 80,000 ballots that were counted after Election Day.
Former U.S. Senator George LeMieux, a GOP attorney, argued before a state judge yesterday that Broward’s own logs show that thousands of additional ballots were logged in as received in the hours and days after the 7pm Election Day deadline. LeMieux told the judge that an evidentiary hearing may be required to track down and establish the source of all 80,000 extra ballots added after election day. Those ballots eventually turned Caldwell’s 40,000 vote election night lead into a deficit.
Lawyers for Broward County argued that the log files are not proof of when the extra ballots were received. But Broward had already been ordered by the court to turn over any evidence that could establish when the ballots were received, and the log file is the only evidence turned over to GOP lawyers for Scott and Caldwell. As it stands right now, the only record provided to Caldwell’s attorneys shows that thousands and thousands of votes were logged in after the legal deadline, and there is ample evidence that Broward repeatedly mixed good ballots with bad.
If the case does go to an evidentiary hearing and Broward cannot provide evidence of when the ballots were received, it’s possible that if they were invalidated, it could make Caldwell the winner.
Stay tuned. It’s still a bit early to declare Nikki Caldwell the winner in the Ag Commissioner’s race until Broward can demonstrate the source of the 80,000 post election day ballots.