Rubio Charges Electoral Malfeasance in Democratic Florida Counties, Says Lawyers Trying to 'Steal' Races

Sen. Marco Rubio
Sen. Marco Rubio / Getty Images
November 8, 2018

Sen. Marco Rubio (R., Fla.) called attention Thursday to what he said are voting law violations by Democratic-leaning counties in the razor-thin gubernatorial and senatorial races in Florida, claiming on Twitter that partisan lawyers are trying to steal those contests.

Palm Beach and Broward Counties, both heavily Democratic, are still counting votes in the governor's race between Democrat Andrew Gillum and Republican Ron DeSantis, as well as the U.S. Senate race between Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson and Rick Scott, the state's Republican governor.

In a series of tweets, Rubio appeared to charge that votes were being held back in a tactical fashion by Broward officials.

Gillum conceded to DeSantis on Tuesday, but he has seemingly retracted the concession since then, with his campaign announcing, "it has become clear there are many more uncounted ballots than was originally reported." Scott declared victory on Tuesday night as well, but Nelson has not conceded the race. The margins are close enough that both races appear headed for recounts.

Rebio tweeted that the law requires counties report their early voting and vote-by-mail within a half-hour of polls closing, but nearly two days after poll closings, the ballot-counting continues.

"#Florida law requires counties report early voting & vote-by-mail within 30 minutes after polls close. 43 hours after polls closed 2 Democrat strongholds #BrowardCounty & #PalmBeachCounty are still counting & refusing to disclose how many ballots they have left to count. #Sayfie," he tweeted.

"Latest ballots dumped by #Broward &/or #PalmBeach flipped Ag Comm race to Dem & shaved another 4k+ from Scott’s lead in Senate race," he wrote in a follow-up tweet. "Since 3am Wed slow drip from these 2 Dem controlled counties cut Scott lead from 54 to 17K. And they refuse to disclose # of ballots they have left."

He also tweeted a thread saying Broward County specifically was engaged in malfeasance and linked to stories about past questionable practices by the voting department. It included a court ruling earlier this year that it had improperly handled mailed-in ballots, and another ruling that an elections supervisor there unlawfully destroyed ballots in a 2016 primary race.

"Now democrat lawyers are descending on #Florida. They have been very clear they aren’t here to make sure every vote is counted," Rubio tweeted. "They are here to change the results of election; & #Broward is where they plan to do it."

"A U.S. Senate seat & a statewide cabinet officer are now potentially in the hands of an elections supervisor with a history of incompetence & of blatant violations of state & federal laws," he added. "It has opened the door for lawyers to come here & try to steal a seat in the U.S. Senate & Florida Cabinet."

The Miami Herald reported Nelson's campaign is bullish about catching Scott as Broward and Palm Beach Counties continue to tabulate votes, two days after Election Day:

As of Thursday morning, two voter-rich counties were still tabulating an unknown number of ballots.

Broward County, where Nelson received 68.9 percent of the votes, was still counting early-voting, vote-by-mail and Election Day ballots.

Palm Beach County, where Nelson received 58.4 percent of the votes, was still counting vote-by-mail ballots.

If the breakdown of these pending ballots is anything close to the results so far, Nelson should pick up more votes than Scott.