I bet you thought you’d seen the last of these headlines, right? The latest in a long string of election debacles in Florida was supposed to be mostly behind us. So how did another 6,000 ballots suddenly show up? Well, the answer is… it’s complicated. (The Hill)
More than 6,000 mailed ballots in Florida went uncounted in November’s midterm elections, according to a report by the Associated Press.
Officials at the Florida Department of State informed a federal judge last week that 6,670 ballots that were mailed in ahead of the November 6 midterm election were left uncounted because they arrived after Election Day…
According to The Associated Press, the missing ballots came from 65 of Florida’s 67 counties.
No, we’re not doing another recount in the Senate race. Rick Scott won after Bill Nelson conceded on November 18th and the last margin we had on record was more than 10,000 votes. That means these ballots wouldn’t have tipped the outcome even if every one of them had been cast for the Democrat. But why were they locked up?
These were all absentee ballots that were mailed in but they arrived too late. Under Florida’s frequently obtuse election laws, if the ballots don’t show up by 7 pm on election day, they don’t get counted. In many other states, when legally completed ballots are sent before the deadline, they wind up being counted later so that accurate vote totals can be recorded, even if the number of them couldn’t overturn the results.
But under Florida’s rules, those votes simply disappear down the memory hole. This raises even more questions about the expansion of absentee ballot voting. Yesterday we looked at the situation in California and Texas, where absentee ballots (along with early voting) may completely alter the strategies of Democratic presidential candidates in 2020. It really seems as if people in states that don’t have early voting (like New York) are using absentee ballots as a workaround to start packing in the ballots ahead of time.
Early voting has a number of problems, as we’ve discussed here previously. The biggest is that the moment you lock your ballot in, weeks or even a month before the election, it becomes hugely problematic (if not impossible) to change your mind. What if new information becomes available in the final week or two of the race? New York – a Democratic stronghold, in case you’ve forgotten – has managed to get by with a single day of voting for my entire life. Absentee ballots were originally intended to assist people who were legitimately going to be away from home on election day. This is particularly useful for deployed members of the military.
Using absentee ballots as a way of voting early probably can’t be banned, but it should be discouraged. These voters rob themselves of the chance to have all possible information available when they go to the polls. And as we’ve seen in Florida this week, counting them can turn into a logistical headache.