Oh, you stupid Republican conspiracy theorists! What’s happening in the counting of ballots in Florida is perfectly normal — just earnest and honest people determined to count every vote and protect democracy.
Then why are they all hiring lawyers?
The issue arose after state party staff sent voters forms that are intended to fix vote-by-mail ballots that had been initially rejected. Those forms, which are official state documents, were sent with altered dates, leading the Florida Department of State to turn over the paperwork to several U.S. attorneys and request an inquiry into the “irregularities.”
After saying earlier in the week that the state officials were trying “divert attention” away from the Department of State, which is part of Gov. Rick Scott’s administration, the Democrats on Friday took a different approach: They lawyered up.
“Upon receiving notice of the allegations that the form was incorrect, FDP took immediate steps, including hiring an independent investigator to review the issues at hand,” attorney Mark Herron said in a statement provided by a party spokeswoman. “As soon as we know the results of the investigation we will advise you.”
Yeah, we know. You’ll get back to us on that.
Under state law governing “fraudulent practices,” it’s a third-degree felony to “knowingly and willfully … make or use any false document, knowing the same to contain any false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or entry” connected to the Department of State. While the fraud statute is not contained in the state’s election code, it relates to the 2018 election because the affidavit in question concerned the elections division, which falls under the Department of State.
The case was referred to investigators at the urging of Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi and Scott, both of whom raised concerns about fraud in the election. Their suspicions, however, revolved around tens of thousands of ballots that had been cast in Broward County and, to date, the elections division, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and a judge all say they’ve seen no credible evidence of fraud.
Since Broward was one of the original counties targeted by Democrats to “cure” absentee ballots by using an altered form, investigators are obviously not looking very hard to find any fraud.
The issue was discussed in a number of internal party emails that have since become public, including one from Democratic staffer Jennifer Kim, who explained “the voters must print the form and sign it by hand.”
After sending the statement from Heron Friday, Caroline Rowland, the party’s communication director, did not respond to questions about whether Kim had been fired.
Democratic Party Vice Chairman Alan Clendenin, who lost a bitter chairmanship fight to the party’s current chairwoman, Terrie Rizzo, said that top party leaders — including Rizzo and Executive Director Juan Peñalos — were not involved in the decision to alter the documents.
“It was mid-level and it was a bunch of go-getters and young people who wanted to make a difference and didn’t realize this is a major political party and this is not how you get things done,” Clendenin said in an interview.
One surefire sign that there is legal trouble on the way is party leaders blaming underlings for the crime. Recall that IRS manager Lois Lerner blamed a couple of low-level clerks in Cincinnati for targeting conservative groups. When it comes to taking responsibility and living by the adage “The buck stops here,” Democrats always find a way to point the finger elsewhere.
The problem is that any absentee ballots counted after a fraudulent form was used to “cure” the ballot are invalid. And yet, thousands of those ballots may have been counted as valid. This, in a state where two races will be decided by a few thousand votes.
But what do we know? We’re just paranoid conspiracy theorists.