Ev­ery vote should count

South Florida Sun-Sentinel (Sunday) - - Opinion - By Ted Deutch

Count ev­ery vote. Why is that such a trou­bling goal for Gover­nor Rick Scott, Se­na­tor Marco Ru­bio, and Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump?

As the mar­gins nar­rowed in the

U.S. Se­nate, Florida Gover­nor, and Florida Com­mis­sioner of Agri­cul­ture races, Repub­li­cans re­sponded to a close elec­tion by try­ing to erode con­fi­dence in our demo­cratic in­sti­tu­tions and pre­vent Florida vot­ers’ voices from be­ing heard.

Since Elec­tion Day, Se­na­tor Marco Ru­bio and Gover­nor Rick Scott have spouted con­spir­acy the­o­ries, re­quested law en­force­ment in­ves­ti­ga­tions to ha­rass elec­tions of­fi­cials, and filed law­suits to cloud the vote count­ing process in sus­pi­cion. These are acts of des­per­a­tion and show that Repub­li­cans are afraid of what will hap­pen if ev­ery Florida vote is counted.

Marco Ru­bio should re­mem­ber that he is our U.S. Se­na­tor and is sup­posed to be rep­re­sent­ing ev­ery Florid­ian. His post­elec­tion tweets were ir­re­spon­si­ble and are in­tended to slowly erode con­fi­dence in the re­sults. He base­lessly claimed that Democrats “are here to change the re­sults of elec­tion,” and that lawyers will “try to steal a seat in the U.S. Se­nate and Florida Cab­i­net.”

Se­na­tor Ru­bio is not telling the truth and of­fered zero ev­i­dence for his con­spir­acy the­o­ries. He por­trayed post-elec­tion night vote count­ing as a trou­bling anom­aly. It wasn’t. After the 2016 elec­tion, 10 mil­lion bal­lots were counted over the course of ten days after polls closed na­tion­wide. This year, five mil­lion bal­lots across the coun­try had yet to be counted by Fri­day. In many races, over­seas, mail-in, and pro­vi­sional bal­lots that are counted and ver­i­fied after Elec­tion Day won’t change the out­come. But in Florida, we have six very close races that de­serve to have ev­ery vote counted with­out in­ter­fer­ence from our se­na­tor.

Se­na­tor Ru­bio was joined by Gover­nor Scott who claimed “un­eth­i­cal lib­er­als” are try­ing to steal the elec­tion. He un­suc­cess­fully or­dered the Florida Depart­ment of Law En­force­ment to in­ves­ti­gate. In re­sponse, a FDLE spokesper­son said that they would be will­ing to in­ves­ti­gate cred­i­ble al­le­ga­tions of fraud, but they hadn’t seen any. That’s be­cause our own gover­nor’s al­le­ga­tions are a farce.

As Se­na­tor Ru­bio and Gover­nor Scott could have guessed, Pres­i­dent Trump took the bait and joined the fray on Twit­ter. He tweeted about “Elec­tion Fraud in #Broward and Palm Beach” and claimed Florida al­ready chose Rick Scott for Se­nate. He even closed a Fri­day af­ter­noon twit­ter tirade by thank­ing Se­na­tor Ru­bio for “ex­pos­ing the po­ten­tial cor­rup­tion go­ing on.” But Se­na­tor Ru­bio hasn’t ex­posed any­thing. He’s made base­less con­spir­acy the­o­ries that he knew would be fod­der for a pres­i­dent that has used sim­i­lar false al­le­ga­tions in the past to at­tack elec­tion re­sults.

In 2018, Se­na­tor Ru­bio am­pli­fied a Pres­i­dent Trump tac­tic from 2016. After he lost the pop­u­lar vote by a his­toric mar­gin of 3 mil­lion votes, Pres­i­dent Trump used un­founded voter fraud claims to waste tax­payer re­sources on a so-called Pres­i­den­tial Ad­vi­sory Com­mis­sion on Elec­tion In­tegrity. The com­mis­sion was shut down after states re­fused to pro­vide it with in­for­ma­tion that vi­o­lated vot­ers’ pri­vacy and could have been used in er­ro­neous voter purges like we’ve seen mul­ti­ple times in Florida.

Se­na­tor Ru­bio of­ten por­trays him­self as a re­spon­si­ble and rea­son­able ac­tor in a po­lit­i­cal world that has gone mad. Fri­day af­ter­noon, he tried to dial back his false al­le­ga­tions of fraud by claim­ing that he just wants in­for­ma­tion on the state-man­dated sched­ule. But it’s too late. Se­na­tor Ru­bio fu­eled the pres­i­dent’s con­spir­acy en­gine this week in an ef­fort to drive Florida’s elec­tion off the rails. We can all hope that the dam­age he’s caused won’t stop the work Florida’s elec­tions of­fi­cials are do­ing as three very close races pro­ceed to au­to­matic re­counts that will en­sure that ev­ery vote is counted.

U.S Rep.Ted Deutch is a Demo­cratic con­gress­man rep­re­sent­ing Florida’s Dis­trict 22.

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