A chaotic vote count well past Election Day
Republican candidates in Florida for governor and the U.S. Senate prevailed this week after a contentious recount, even as Democrats expanded their lead in the House of Representatives, gaining at least 37 seats. Former Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum conceded to Ron DeSantis, who won the governor’s race by about 34,000 votes, and Sen. Bill Nelson conceded to Rick Scott after a manual recount closed Scott’s lead from 12,603 to 10,033 in a contest with nearly 8.2 million votes cast. No Florida official drew more criticism from both parties than Brenda Snipes, the elections supervisor in Broward, Florida’s second most populous county. After baffling delays and misplaced ballots, Snipes resigned. Georgia, meanwhile, certified Republican Brian Kemp as governor-elect, though Democrat Stacey Abrams refused to call him the “legitimate” victor (see Talking Points).
A staggering 111 million–plus people voted in House elections, a number much closer to presidential election years than other midterms. Democrats’ national lead in House races climbed to 7.8 percent, or 8.64 million votes, with the party’s candidates even sweeping Orange County, Calif., the cradle of the modern conservative movement. Five House races remain undecided, and the Senate run-off in Mississippi later this month is now up in the air. GOP candidate Cindy Hyde-Smith was expected to crush Democrat Mike Espy until a video emerged of Hyde-Smith, who is white, praising a cattle rancher supporter by saying, “If he invited me to a public hanging, I’d be in the front row.”
What the columnists said
The blue tsunami came out of Democrats’ “thirst for diversity,” said Jamelle Bouie in Slate.com. Instead of falling for “President Trump’s misogyny and racism by favoring male candidates,” the party ran “an unprecedented 180 female candidates in House primaries, as well as 133 people of color.” The gamble paid off. Congress will have a record 42 Latino members next term, 35 of whom will be Democrats, and for the first time there will be more than 100 women in the House. African-Americans who came up just short, including Gillum and Abrams, are stars in the making.
Democrats pulled out every trick to try to help Gillum “steal the election,” said Bre Payton in TheFederalist.com. Gillum withdrew his initial concession after 95,000 ballots “mysteriously turned up” and broke 3-to-1 for Democrats. Democrats didn’t care. They pretend to care about election integrity, but support whatever laws or practices will get them more votes. “The murkier the electoral process, the more the Democratic Party wins.”
Feeling déjà vu? asked Ronald Klain in The Washington Post. I was general counsel of Al Gore’s 2000 recount effort in Florida, and for years I’ve heard people describe the state as an idiosyncratic mess. But struggles just like Florida’s appear nationwide. We allow partisans to oversee elections, and we entrust the details “to amateurs and incompetents, with dated technology and far too little quality control.” The “Election Day mayhem” we’ve come to expect poses a major threat to our democracy.