Here’s all the proof you’ll ever need that in Florida ev­ery sin­gle vote counts

Miami Herald (Sunday) - - In Depth - BY FABI­OLA SAN­TI­AGO fsan­ti­ago@mi­ami­her­ald.com

This is the point, days af­ter the elec­tion, where you want to break into a F-L-O-R-I-D-A scream. Or a hope­ful lit­tle dance if you’re a Demo­crat.

Can you say… still count­ing! And com­ing up, re­count!

Hair-thin mar­gins in key Florida races de­mand it. Vot­ers de­serve it.

Five lit­tle words, folks: The. Elec­tion. Isn’t. Over. Yet.

You can rant if you voted for the Repub­li­can win­ner un­der re­view — which is what Gov. Rick Scott’s cam­paign is do­ing, spin­ning lies Trump-style — but it won’t help. Scott’s cam­paign team blasted his for­mi­da­ble Demo­cratic op­po­nent, in­cum­bent Sen. Bill Nel­son, ac­cus­ing him of try­ing to “steal” the elec­tion by pur­su­ing a re­count.

“It is sad and em­bar­rass­ing that Bill Nel­son would re­sort to these low tac­tics af­ter the vot­ers have clearly spo­ken,” the Scott cam­paign said in a state­ment.

But vot­ers hadn’t fin­ished speak­ing when Scott — who forked over $64 mil­lion of his own money on this bid for the U.S. Se­nate — claimed vic­tory too soon on elec­tion night based on an ul­tra-slim mar­gin win.

Repub­li­can Se­na­tor Marco Ru­bio, too, im­plied on Twit­ter that some­thing fishy is go­ing on, us­ing loaded lan­guage to com­mu­ni­cate de­vel­op­ments in the late vote count.

“Lat­est bal­lots dumped by #Broward &/or #PalmBeach flipped Ag Comm race to Dem & shaved an­other 4k+ from Scott’s lead in Se­nate race. Since 3am Wed slow drip from these 2 Dem con­trolled coun­ties cut Scott lead from 54 to 17K. And they refuse to dis­close # of bal­lots they have left,” Ru­bio wrote.

He calls bal­lots from the most Demo­cratic county in the state a dump.

I call those bal­lots proof that in di­vided Florida ev­ery vote counts.

Vot­ers who jus­tify ne­glect­ing their civic duty should re­flect on this. If all of the reg­is­tered vot­ers who didn’t vote had shown up, you might have made his­tory with­out a re­count.

But... Count on! Count un­til ev­ery sin­gle bal­lot in hand is ac­counted for.

Our statewide races are tight, not only be­cause of the par­ti­san di­vide, but be­cause all those third­party can­di­dates with no shot in hell of win­ning end up tak­ing up a nice chunk of votes.

Democrats don’t want to steal the elec­tion — but they do want ev­ery vote counted.

It’s not the Democrats be­ing sore losers that is trig­ger­ing the re­count. It’s the law.

In Florida, a ma­chine re­count is au­to­mat­i­cally trig­gered if can­di­dates are within 0.5 per­cent or less of each other. A hand re­count is re­quired if the mar­gin is 0.25 per­cent or less.

The Se­nate, the gov­er­nor and the agri­cul­tural com­mis­sioner races all qual­ify for a re­count.

Repub­li­cans would be thrilled if the elec­tion night win­ners were Democrats — and, with vot­ing mar­gins this close, they had a shot at win­ning with votes that hadn’t been counted or prob­lem bal­lots that had to be ad­dressed.

Isn’t this how George Bush be­came pres­i­dent when his brother, Jeb, was the gov­er­nor of Florida in 2000? How easy the GOP for­gets the hang­ing-chad re­count.

Like­wise, we’ll be talk­ing about the 2018 midterm elec­tion for years.

Tallahassee Mayor An­drew Gil­lum gal­lantly con­ceded too early Tues­day night, but his race for gov­er­nor is headed for a re­count for the first time in state his­tory. By Fri­day morn­ing’s count, his los­ing mar­gin stood at 0.44 per­cent with only 36,000some votes sep­a­rat­ing him from Ron DeSan­tis. Maybe he won’t be able to over­come the dis­tance at the end, but Florida vot­ers de­serve the right count.

“Ev­ery voice must be heard in this race!” Gil­lum tweeted Thurs­day.

Nel­son, a vet­eran who knows it isn’t over in this topsy-turvy state un­til the last vote is counted, won’t con­cede.

Good for him.

For one, in the Demo- cratic strong­hold of Broward, where bal­lots are still be­ing counted, there are about 24,000 of them that strangely have no vote in the Se­nate race. That needs a sec­ond look to de­ter­mine whether it was a tab­u­la­tion er­ror or some­thing else.

Demo­cratic-lean­ing Palm Beach County also is still count­ing mail-in bal­lots as of this writ­ing. A mere 15,024 votes gave Scott the edge over Nel­son on Fri­day.

The new counts flipped the agri­cul­ture com­mis­sioner’s race to Demo­crat Nikki Fried by 2,974 votes. But she too can’t claim vic­tory just yet. Who knows what will hap­pen with the re­count when you have such a hair-thin mar­gin?

If that race re­turns to its orig­i­nal re­sults, I bet you there won’t be any Repub­li­can cry­ing “Demo­cratic steal!” or tweet­ing about bal­lot dumps.

The na­tion may be look­ing upon us with raised eye­brows, but I say be pa­tient. Show some re­spect to ev­ery bal­lot.

In Florida, re­counts mat­ter.

Fol­low Fabi­ola San­ti­ago on Twit­ter, @fabi­o­las­an­ti­ago

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