Florida Hand Recount Begins, and Democrats’ Hopes Fade Fast

‘This is all but over folks…’

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Bill Nelson & Debbie Wasserman Schultz (screen shot: RandomTopicsWithHumor/Youtube)

(Evan Halper, Los Angeles Times) As hundreds of volunteers and attorneys—including some from liberal activist groups—plowed through ballots, and protesters and politicians caviled from the sidelines, Florida’s hand recount of its Senate race got underway Friday morning and almost immediately appeared to be a bust for Democrats.

The quirks and imperfections the vote count has highlighted raised considerable concern among many about the possibility of voter fraud in cases that could have major impact on policy for years to come, including helping to decide more Supreme Court appointments.

Whether the failures in a handful of jurisdictions, such as Broward and Palm Beach counties, were a sign of deliberate corruption—as President Donald Trump and other GOP leaders have contended—or simply the incompetence of local officials such as Broward elections supervisor Brenda Snipes–which those on the Left has contended—the aftermath over the past 10 days has done little to inspire confidence in the system.

As Democrats seemed to do everything possible to forestall the election and forgotten caches of ballots mysteriously turned up everywhere from school closets to rental car trunks, Trump criticized the Left on Twitter for bringing in attorney Marc Elias, notorious for having secured high-stakes election reversals for Democrats in similar recount circumstances many times in the past.

Republicans had been in a near panic about the possibility of a hotly contested Senate seat slipping away here. But their worries faded as the hand recount sped along in Broward County, just north of Miami, where more than 30,000 supposedly “undercounted” ballots in the race between incumbent Democrat Sen. Bill Nelson and Republican Gov. Rick Scott seemed to have the potential to erase Scott’s lead.

But as vote counters examined the ballots one by one, the vast majority were not disputable. In almost all of them, voters just left the Senate race blank. The count went so fast that election officials sent volunteers home before lunch.

Experts say the failure of so many voters to weigh in on a top-of-the ticket race likely was a result of a poorly designed ballot. But there’s nothing Democrats can do about that now.

Although Nelson’s lawyers still have some arguments to make, Democrats have said all along that their chances of winning depended heavily on uncovering a problem in Broward that would result in more votes for them.

“This is all but over folks,” Michael McDonald, an elections expert at the University of Florida, wrote in a tweet.

Liberty Headlines’ Ben Sellers contributed to this report.

(c)2018 Los Angeles Times. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.