Voters in Bay County in Florida’s panhandle, as expected, heavily supported Republican candidates, with more than 72% of locals supporting Ron DeSantis’ (R) gubernatorial campaign and nearly 74% backing Rick Scott’s (R) U.S. Senate campaign.
There is some question, however, about whether some of those votes were consistent with Florida’s election laws. Politico reported yesterday:
The election supervisor in hurricane-wracked Bay County allowed some voters to illegally cast ballots by email – an act specifically prohibited by Gov. Rick Scott when he issued an emergency order to expand voting opportunities there after the storm.
Despite the prohibition, Bay County Election Supervisor Mark Andersen says he stands by his decision in the Republican-rich county after Hurricane Michael. In all, he said, 147 voters returned ballots through email but only 10 were purely email-to-email interactions. In the other cases, voters used fax machines to email their ballots in, which is currently permitted by state law for overseas voters.
Obviously, circumstances matter. Bay County was hit hard by Hurricane Michael, and local communities are still struggling to recover. Officials in the area made a conscious choice to – let’s be charitable – bend the rules, allowing some voters in the country to cast ballots in ways that fall outside state election laws.
My point is not that those voters should be punished or that their votes should be discounted. I am curious, though, about Republicans’ apparent disinterest in how Bay County administered the election.
Rick Scott, for example, has been only too pleased to peddle absurd conspiracy theories about “widespread fraud” in south Florida, specifically in counties that vote heavily Democratic. The Republican’s claims, echoed by Donald Trump, quickly fell apart when Scott was asked to substantiate his allegations.
But about 500 miles to the north, we can now say with some certainty that voters in a heavily Republican district did, in fact, cast ballots in ways that conflict with Florida law.
I remain a count-every-ballot guy, but wouldn’t it be nice to see some constituency from leading GOP officials? Where’s Rick Scott denouncing Bay County for deliberately circumventing the state’s election laws?
Kevin Rader, a Democratic state senator whose district includes parts of Palm Beach and Broward counties, argued to Politico, “Why does this supervisor in this county not have to follow the law? Email ballots aren’t legal. Why the double standard?”
That need not be a rhetorical question.