Did Democrats commit election fraud in Florida? State election officials initially denied that fraud had taken place after Donald Trump started launching allegations of it from his Twitter account. Politico’s Matt Dixon reports that changed late yesterday when the Department of State (DOS) announced it had turned over illegally altered election documents to federal prosecutors — documents tied to the Democratic Party:
The Florida Department of State last week asked federal prosecutors to investigate dates that were changed on official state election documents, the first voting “irregularities” it has flagged in the wake of the 2018 elections.
The concerns, which the department says can be tied to the Florida Democratic Party, center around date changes on forms used to fix vote-by-mail ballots sent with incorrect or missing information. Known as “cure affidavits,” those documents used to fix mail ballots were due no later than 5 p.m. on Nov. 5 — the day before the election. But affidavits released on Tuesday by the DOS show that documents from four different counties said the ballots could be returned by 5 p.m. on Thursday, which is not accurate.
Guess which county was among them? Oh, let’s not always see the same hands …
Among those counties is Broward, which emerged as the epicenter of controversy as three statewide races and three local legislative races went into recounts following the Nov. 6 elections. Republicans have pointed to embattled Broward Elections chief Brenda Snipes’ record of past election gaffes in arguing that the largely Democratic country is tilted against them — perhaps fraudulently so.
In this case, however, the issue appears more tied to the Florida Democratic Party (FDP) than to county officials. One county supervisor told DOS investigators that it appeared they had gotten confused between the deadline for “cure affadavits” on mail-in ballots and the deadline for dealing with provisional ballots, which was 5 pm Thursday. However, the FDP attempted to solve that in several jurisdictions by altering official state documents, which is a double-plus-ungood thing to do. It was that change to the form that prompted the referral from DOS to federal prosecutors.
It didn’t pass unnoticed by other election supervisors, either. Okaloosa County’s Paul Lux alerted the DOS to the issue on Friday, asking them to straighten out the FDP:
“Please pass the word to the FDP that they can’t arbitrarily add their own deadline to your form or VBM cures!!” Lux emailed DOS officials on Nov. 9. “This is crazy!”
In a Tuesday interview with POLITICO, Lux said he received an email from someone sending a cure affidavit marked with the wrong date that included a Florida Democratic Party email address. The email does contain the email address [email protected], which is associated with the party.
Just how serious is this violation in relation to vote fraud? Altering election documents is a serious violation in and of itself, of course, but the problems the invalid deadline creates is lost opportunities for voters to correct defects before Election Day. It doesn’t create invalid ballots as much as it keeps them from being fixed — and if the affidavits were linked to Democratic voters, then the FDP basically shot itself in the foot. If they were sent to Republican voters, that might be a different kettle of fish, but it seems unlikely that Republican voters would reach out to [email protected] for assistance.
Intent matters in these cases. If this is a mix-up on deadline dates and a misguided attempt to clarify, it seems doubtful that the feds will pursue criminal charges. The DOS could refer the case back to the state or local district attorneys, but the people involved would likely face fines as a worst-case scenario. It will just get added to the already lengthy list of Florida incompetencies, about which more later.