Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) warned on Friday morning that conduct related to the statewide recount effort could rise to criminal conduct that deludes the actual desires of voters.
Broward County, Florida, has been at the forefront of a highly contentious recount effort since finding uncounted ballots after the midterm elections November 5.
The additional ballots were enough to trigger a recount for some key races by narrowing the margin of votes. Gaetz warned that conduct by some officials shows a desire to win at all costs.
“That really was concerning to me when we saw that the Florida Democratic Party was putting out information about how many votes per precinct they hoped to change to change the outcome of the election,” Gaetz told guest host Raymond Arroyo on “The Laura Ingraham Show.”
“That is not a desire to count every vote — that’s not a desire for the people’s voice to be heard. That is a desire to win at all costs. The concern now is that might have metastasized into criminal conduct.”
Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum (D)(shown above right) was able to re-enter the race with the additional votes even though he had already conceded defeat.
He has been running against Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) to become the next governor of the state. Republican Gov. Rick Scott has also been locked in a close race against Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.)(above left) for a Senate seat.
Broward County failed to meet the deadline for submitting the recounted ballots Thursday afternoon. Numerous media outlets originally said the county was able to make the deadline, since it finished the recount 14 minutes early.
But when it came to actually transferring the recount results to the election board, county officials were tardy by two minutes.
“There has actually been a criminal referral to federal prosecutors because the Florida Democratic Party was sending out information about how to alter forms so that people could ‘cure their ballots’ that were not lawfully cast,” Gaetz said. “When you have the direction of the Florida Democratic Party to be inclusive of those type of techniques, then I think you have the potential of criminal consequences.”
Republicans became suspicious over all the additional votes that seemed to favor the Democrats. Interestingly enough, that didn’t appear to be the case completely when it came to Broward County — which started to report hundreds of additional votes for Scott.
But those votes will not be counted because election officials were unable to get them in before the required deadline.
“Rick Scott actually ended up gaining over 700 votes as a consequence of the machine recount,” Gaetz said. “Rick Scott believes it was malicious. I don’t know but I certainly think it is curious that the votes were submitted two minutes after the deadline so that Rick Scott wasn’t able to benefit from the true will of the voters, who would have given him a 700-vote margin. It doesn’t inspire confidence when you see discrepancies in the thousands when it comes to the election day tally and the machine recount tally.”
The Florida midterm election is now going to a hand recount, with the margin between the candidates hitting less than 0.25 percentage points. So the race is not close from being over nearly two weeks after Election Day.
Gaetz said he fears that all of the controversy and what could allegedly be fraud is deluding legal votes.
“I’m blessed that I live in a part of Florida where we cast our ballots legally, where our supervisors of elections do a fantastic job following the law and meeting the transparency requirements,” Gaetz said on Friday. “There are 8,000 ballots that lack a continuous chain of custody. They were supposed to reported and disclosed and … made available for public review in total on election night. Then you see 8,000 ballots — that should be have been reported on election night, spoken into existence over the next several days.”
Scott also filed a lawsuit in response to the controversy alongside the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC).
They are alleging that officials in Broward County and Palm Beach County are hiding critical information about the number of votes cast and counted in the Democrat-heavy districts.
Scott has also alleged rampant fraud by the Democratic county officials.
Scott and his lawyers have also been trying to stop the streams of additional votes coming in after the original deadline but haven’t had much luck in the courts. Federal Judge Mark E. Walker had ruled voters who had their mail-in or provisional ballots rejected due to signature issues will get two more days to fix their ballots.
Florida Circuit Chief Judge Jack Tuter said during an emergency hearing this past Monday that there is no wrongdoing. He also urged all sides to tone down the political rhetoric. There’s been no official investigation by law enforcement or the state election board that has found such evidence at the moment.