A trio of central Florida residents filed a lawsuit against the State of Florida to demand a recount of the presidential ballots. Protect Our Elections is an elections reform group, who is supporting the citizen effort because in Florida only citizens and not candidates can sue for a recount. They may have a point, because up to 160,000 ballots may have been left uncounted, a number greater than Trump’s plurality of the Florida vote and 233% of the number of uncounted ballots in 2012.
There’s little chance of changing Florida’s certified election results in favor of the Republican nominee, but the recount lawsuit could expose isolated instances of election irregularities in Florida if pursued in the courts to its logical conclusion. As the Miami New Times reports, the group filed with 12 minutes to go before the midnight deadline last Friday, after raising $65,000 online:
[T]he group points to a 233 percent jump in the number of uncounted ballots as evidence that something strange may have happened. According to the suit, 0.75 percent of the statewide votes were deemed “invalid” in the 2008 and 2012 elections. This year, 1.67 percent of the votes were invalidated.
“Excessively high invalid vote rates are extremely suspicious, and generally are considered an indication of possible problems such as machine malfunctions or tampering,” the suit alleges.
The group claims each of those votes matters a great deal because Donald Trump beat Hillary Clinton by 112,911 votes in the Sunshine State. Trump won by roughly 1.5 percent, a margin high enough to avoid the state’s automatic-recount provisions.
This challenge does not mean that their lawsuit has any realistic chance of success, either in court or in overturning the certified result of this year’s general election in Florida. Florida uses optical scan ballots with fill in the blanks to avoid the hanging chad nightmare ballot problems which helped make George W. Bush our 43rd President in 2000 after a lengthy and disputed recount.
This lawsuit is yet another piece in the messy pie that is American democracy, where we give citizens the right to legally challenge any public proceeding. Protect Our Elections’ lawyer Clint Curtis said there were numerous irregularities reported:
He said he has received a “deluge” of reports from voters across the state of problems on election day, including people being turned away at the polls and told they’d already voted. Florida Division of Elections officials reported only a few “minor issues” on election day.
While it very probably will not change the result, if the challengers uncover legitimate evidence of voter suppression, misleading or illegal tactics or more, it could result in prosecutions or have other positive impacts after the memory of the 2016 election has long faded in the public eye.
Grant Stern is an Editor-At-Large for OccupyDemocrats and published author. His new Meet the Candidates 2020 book series is distributed by Simon and Schuster. He's also mortgage broker, community activist and radio personality in Miami, Florida., as well as the producer of the Dworkin Report podcast. Grant is also an occasional contributor to Raw Story, Alternet, and the DC Report. Find out more at grantstern.com.