First came a contagion of disbelief in election results.
Then, a surge of public-records requests seeking details such as voting-system security processes.
Now, fears of being arrested for voting.
Elections supervisors in Florida have grappled with these and other issues as they oversaw the state’s August primary elections and prepared for the Nov. 8 general election.
The challenges have come amid supervisors’ years-long battle to convince voters that election processes aren’t rigged, an issue that took root and spread after former President Donald Trump and his supporters insisted — and continue to maintain — that Democrat Joe Biden’s 2020 victory was fraudulent.
Trump defeated Biden in Florida by more than three percentage points but, even in the Sunshine State, skepticism about how elections are operated continue to swirl.
And the arrests in August of 20 people for alleged illegal voting hasn’t helped, according to experts.
County supervisors of elections are combating a steady drumbeat of myths about election fraud from an increasingly wary public.
“Disinformation, or stuff people are just getting wrong and putting out there as gospel, misinformation, which is information they’re purposely disseminating to confuse people, and malinformation, which has a kernel of truth but also is specifically skewed to mislead people. We see that as our biggest challenge, is how do we find the people we need to reach,” Okaloosa County Supervisor of Elections Paul Lux told The News Service of Florida.
But communicating with the public can be difficult for elections officials, whose resources are limited.
“The people that are on the side of ‘the election was stolen,’ who either don’t want or aren’t interested in hearing the truth, they’re not on Facebook, so me posting all the stuff to cure misinformation to Facebook doesn’t help. There are plenty of people who are not on Facebook. There are plenty of people who never go to my website. I certainly don’t have the budget to advertise this. So all we can literally do is talk to the media to get our message out there where we can hope that it gets spread around by enough people to be effective,” Lux said.
Supervisors also have been inundated by voluminous public-records requests that appear to be part of a loosely coordinated campaign from activists in Florida and other states.
While the Florida Department of State works with county elections officials to ensure the accuracy of the state’s voter-registration database, the activists have launched their own efforts to try to ensure that ineligible people are stripped from voting rolls, at times going door-to-door to check on voters’ residency.
In Central Florida, the Lake County Election Integrity and Voter Protection Coalition, which is aligned with Florida4America.org, issued a “white paper” in August after performing an analysis of the 2020 general election based on records obtained from supervisors’ offices.
The group said it identified numerous “failures in our voting system” that allegedly resulted in voters casting ballots twice, out-of-state residents voting in Florida and “identity theft” of older voters. The Lake County group asked that the problems be investigated by the state’s new Office of Election Crimes and Security.
But Lake County Supervisor of Elections Alan Hays, a former state legislator, has accused Florida4America.org of confusing voters by encouraging them not to vote by mail.
Hays this month warned voters to ignore emails and phone calls from people he said “are claiming to attempt to clean up the voter rolls” in the region.
“The actions of these individuals are irresponsible and simply contribute to the erosion of voter confidence and misinformation which continues to plague our elections system,” Hays, a Republican, said in an Oct. 4 voter alert.
While Florida has broad open-records laws, much of the information being sought, including from people and groups outside of the state, is shielded from release to the public.
“They’re demanding, essentially, the equivalent of the architect of a nuclear plant and the usernames and passwords of all the security surrounding it,” Leon County Supervisor of Elections Mark Earley told the News Service. “They want the names that are allowed to log in. They want copies of all the voting system hard drives. … It’s a road map for hacking. That stuff is protected at the state and federal level.”
Earley, who is president of the Florida Supervisors of Elections association, and his colleagues believe the public-records requests could be an attempt to set the stage for post-election legal challenges.
Orange County Supervisor of Elections Bill Cowles, who was first elected in 1996, also suggested that voters who have moved to Florida might have brought mistrust of elections procedures with them. Voting regulations vary from state to state, he noted.
“The big issue for us in Florida is that people have come from elsewhere, and I guess the big thing is … there is no one law for elections. The U.S. Constitution sets the date for the general election, but then it leaves it up to the 50 states to write their own election code,” he said. “So when people come in here and start telling me what happened in Georgia, I say, ‘Whoa. We don’t even use the same equipment they have in Georgia.’ … A lot of times, it’s us reassuring the local voters of how our process works, and they get it.”
Meanwhile, the Office of Elections Crimes and Security, established by the Legislature at Gov. Ron DeSantis’ behest this spring, could have a chilling effect on voter turnout. Voting-rights advocates are concerned that the creation of the office could reinforce unfounded allegations about election fraud.
DeSantis held a news conference with Secretary of State Cord Byrd, who oversees the elections-security office, and law enforcement officials on Aug. 18 to announce that 20 felons had been arrested for allegedly voting illegally in 2020. The governor pledged that more arrests would be coming.
Videos of some of the arrests began circulating this month, possibly contributing to eligible voters’ newly founded fears.
“I have not encountered in the past this many voters calling, concerned that they may be prosecuted or what-have-you for voter fraud. And these are all eligible voters that have contacted me,” Earley said.
The suspicions about the 2020 election, purported voting irregularities and allegations of illegal voting are part of a nationwide trend, said Brad Ashwell, state director of the non-profit group All Voting is Local. That trend was perhaps most visible when Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
“Voter suppression has historically been focused on suppressing certain voters from voting. Now it’s shifted to the process,” Ashwell said. “If the election doesn’t go your way, then it’s the process. It isn’t a bad candidate. They’ve focused on calling question to the process and subverting the results. That’s what we’re really concerned about. As we saw on Jan. 6, there’s really no limit to what they’ll do if they’re dissatisfied with the results.”
–Dara Kam, News Service of Florida
The narrative must be set before the election. Hillary Clinton is already setting the narrative of a rigged election. I can wait to see the stories and comments post election day.
And knucklehead began that fraud nonsense in 2008 and continues it 14 years later.
Bill C says
Just like Trump’s lie about Covid, saying it was “under control”, even though he knew otherwise (he admitted so in an interview with Bob Woodward -“In tapes released in the fall of 2020, Trump told Woodward the previous March that year that he knew the coronavirus was more deadly and contagious than the flu, but downplayed its dangers to the public”) which resulted in the deaths of over a million Americans, now his Big Lie is spreading like Covid and will eventually lead to the death of Democracy if not checked in this election.
More people have died under the current administration with a vaccine. Remember when we were told the vaccine had 94% effective rate. Remember when we were told the vaccine would stop the spread. Remember when this administration wanted OSHA to go after companies that had unvaccinated workers? Talk about being an authoritarian government. To this day, I have not seen a peer- reviewed study that proved a cloth mask works.
I will be more than happy to go down memory lane with you about stolen election accusations. 2000 with Gore, 2016 with Hillary, 2018 with Abrams and 2020 Trump. Now Hillary is promoting another false claim about elections. https://www.yahoo.com/video/hillary-clinton-warns-maga-republicans-143612080.html?guccounter=1&guce_referrer=aHR0cHM6Ly93d3cuZ29vZ2xlLmNvbS8&guce_referrer_sig=AQAAAIMrERU29f0Yms5QnnJ9Aw7DoCNHI7SSs3b0Y77_HblfMHQZ8wn6DIvbslfESMRnxE2tDbE5C4FjH_ZzmBCix0kOR5UafCVmZv0uuDA9j5k96qpig3HlIHg1dLyT5n8uETDc1-8NHE1sS1X8nJX5xotlqT7i9O7eWwQtLtr9_c_f
Bill C says
You don’t know what you’re talking about. Period.
Justsayin: I don’t know how in the hell you know what Hillary Clinton is doing, unless wacko radio is telling you, but you are accusing her of doing exactly what Trump did.
President Trump only won one Poll out of 240 from February 17, 2020 to election day November 2, 2020 . The Poll Trump won was a Rasmussan Poll on 9/15 that had Trump at 47% to Biden at 46%.
The average of hundreds of polls conducted before the 2020 Presidential election was spot on for Biden and within the margin of error for Trump.
The average on all the National Polls was Biden with 51.2% to Trump with 44.0%. The final election results were Biden with 51.4% to Trump with 46.9%.
Note: Both Investor’s Business Daily/TechnoMetrica poll (IBD/TIPP) and University of Southern California Dornslife/Los Angeles Times poll predicted a Trump win in 2016.
They only reason Trump won in 2016 was, because of the Comey investigation about two weeks before the election. That turned out to be nonsense.
Deborah Coffey says
“…I guess the big thing is … there is no one law for elections. ” And, this is the answer to the problem. Nationalize the voting and election PROCESS. Every state runs elections in exactly the same way with the same rules. Results are ALL reported on election night by 12:00 midnight. And, of course, put Donald J. Trump and all of his criminal cronies in prison on primetime TV immediately.
Agreed, tired of seeing one person and his puppets destroying our country.
If the Cult GOP Trump party can destroy the integrity of our election system why shouldn’t the Democrats try to play them at their same game. Donald is working hard at destroying our democracy, is trying to spread our elections aren’t legal or safe because he isn’t man enough to admit he lost a legal election fairly. He has corrupted our Supreme Court Judges.
And of course, he wants to be President again since he made millions of dollars from it over charging our government the secret service to protect him. He milked the government as much as could a long with stealing top secret classified documents and still today hasn’t returned them all.
He still is busy running around the country spreading propaganda lies that he won the election when in fact in private he has told his own staff he knows he lost.
He turned the president’s office into a television Reality Show, and made a mockery of our Secret Service, DOJ and FBI.
He is the biggest con artist that ever existed in politics and has put fear in other politicians not to cross him or they will pay dearly.
His ego thrives on him being the topic of all conversations. When is enough enough and people wake up to him?
I couldn’t have said better myself James… but it’s like with the borg on Star Trek, “commenting is futile.”
Sally Ryan says
Mostly he wants to be President again so he won’t be prosecuted for his endless crimes!
Trump wasn’t man enough to admit defeat in a legal fair election so he spread propaganda our elections aren’t valid. He turned the presidential position in a three ring circus television Reality Show. He made sure he and his family skimmed millions from taxpayers another reason why he want the position again.
He turned polititicans into weak puppets and are afraid to cross him or stand up to him because he will destroy them publically.
Yes, one person has damaged the USA just because he has no courage to admit defeat. Even today he is doing his best to destroy our democracy.
Ask yourself what has he done to help you personally? He is only out for himself and money is his God.
Sooner or later our country will find out what he did with top secret and classified documents and truth isn’t not going to be in the best interest for our country. Wake up and smell the coffee.
This is so incredibly sad, that one man’s ego, and the people who are afraid of him, and media that only cares about ratings and money, have so undermined the confidence of Americans in America today, and have turned bother against brother, and sister against sister.
The 20 people arrested for voter fraud, by DeSantis’ morality police, were clearly a set up. We voted to allow felons, who served their time, to be able to vote. Republicans tacked on requirements, that we did not have the chance to vote on, afterwards. Then, the ex felons were set paperwork stating they could vote, then arrested when they did.
Deniers of the last election still have no proof of election fraud that would have even the most minute effect on the outcome.
I once read that 25% of the population are sociopaths. I know know what jobs they seek: land development and politicians.
Republicans bear the responsibility for letting tRUMP**… NAY, ENCOURAGING tRUMP** to foment violence!
It’s so sad that conservatives are too weak to admit defeat. It’s the main thing that distinguishes mature people from emotional children.
I want a new drawing because I Did Win Powerball.
Dewnnis C Rathsam says
Yall bitch about Trump! Comon Man, No inflattion, cheap gas, cheap food, plenty of forula for American babies, & lets not forgets the invation at our southern border. Drugs, Thives, Child molesters, the scum of the earth, now enter our country. Look deep in your heart Trump haters…. Hows your 401 k? How much more will we all loose? Are U better off now? Or 3 years ago?
High School Grad says
Man. A dictionary is definitely in order! Education is so important!
@ High School Grad says: Well played.