Monday, November 12, 2018

What did Donald Trump do today?

He invented a new election conspiracy theory.

Trump waded right back into the ever-tightening Florida Senate and gubernatorial races, declaring completely without evidence that "many ballots" in those races were "missing or forged." 

This isn't true, but it's worth elaborating on how untrue it is. 

Nobody, anywhere, has pointed to any situation where Florida vote counters (who operate under constant supervision by party representatives) supposedly created or destroyed votes. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement, which is run by an appointee of Gov. Rick Scott (who is running for the Senate) says there is no evidence of any wrongdoing in the election. So does the state Secretary of State, who was also appointed by Gov. Scott. So did a Florida judge overseeing the count in Broward County, a Democratic stronghold that is the focus of election-related lawsuits. 

In short, Trump seems to have conjured the idea of "missing or forged" ballots himself, out of thin air—along with his claim that only ballots cast on Election Day should be counted. 

Needless to say, this would be against the law. The ballots Trump wants thrown out include those sent in by Floridians serving in the military. By state law, those must be accepted through November 16.

(In Arizona, where the Election Day ballots favor the apparent winner, Democrat Kyrsten Sinema, Trump has a different but equally illegal theory remedy—that an entirely new election should be held.)

This isn't the first time that Trump has said that elections are legitimate only if his side wins. Shortly before the 2016 election, he told a crowd, "I will totally accept the results of this great and historic presidential election," and then added, after a dramatic pause, "if I win." 

After losing the popular vote by a margin of almost 3 million votes, Trump immediately insisted that five million non-citizens had somehow voted, all without being caught, exclusively for Hillary Clinton, but not in the crucial swing states that gave Trump the electoral college victory.

Why should I care about this?

  • In a democracy, legally cast votes are counted regardless of who they will benefit.
  • Florida voters may have thought when they cast their ballots—for either party's candidates—that their president would abide by the will of the people.