President Donald Trump doesn’t want any more ballots counted in Florida. As it stands, however, nearly twenty thousand overseas absentee ballots remain outstanding–many of which were cast by active duty military members.
On Monday morning, the day that Veterans Day is observed across the country, Trump tweeted, “The Florida Election should be called in favor of Rick Scott and Ron DeSantis in that large numbers of new ballots showed up out of nowhere, and many ballots are missing or forged.”
The Florida Election should be called in favor of Rick Scott and Ron DeSantis in that large numbers of new ballots showed up out of nowhere, and many ballots are missing or forged. An honest vote count is no longer possible-ballots massively infected. Must go with Election Night!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 12, 2018
Observers have noted that what Trump is suggesting, in effect, is that overseas military votes not be counted in Florida’s still-to-be-decided election. The Washington Post‘s Aaron Blake summed up the logical import of Trump’s line of thought here.
“Florida accepts overseas/military ballots through Nov. 16, (provided they were postmarked by Nov. 6),” Blake noted. “The president is effectively calling for the disenfranchisement of military service-members … the day after Veteran’s Day.”
The timing of Trump’s stop-the-counting interjection–on Veterans Day (observed)–highlights the optics of a president arguing against counting all the votes under the rules established by the Sunshine State itself.
The law on point here is codified at 1S-2.030 Vote-by-Mail Ballots for Absent Stateside Uniformed Services and Overseas Voters. Section 4(b) reads in full:
Overseas voters casting ballots in a presidential preference primary or general election are allowed a 10-day extension. The ballot must be postmarked or dated no later than election day and received by the Supervisor of Elections of the county in which the voter is registered no later than 10 days after election day.
This means that under Florida law, overseas voters and active on-duty military personnel (along with their spouses) have until Friday, November 16 for their initial votes to accepted and counted by elections officials.
Daniel A. Smith is Chair of the Department of Political Science at Florida University. According to Smith, as of Friday morning, nearly 20,000 overseas ballots remained uncounted in the razor thin Senate race in which the Republican leads by less than 13,000 votes.
As of this morning, there are roughly 19.8k overseas ballots out.
41% of these are Ds, 27% are Rs, and 30% are NPAs.
These overseas voters are registered in nearly every Florida county. Those with the most are DAD (3.3k), BRO (2.6k), PAL (1.6k), HIL (1.4k), ORA (1k)
— daniel a. smith (@electionsmith) November 11, 2018
Smith estimates that around 5,000 of those outstanding overseas ballots belong to active duty military service members and/or their spouses. An entirely accurate count isn’t available from the Florida Department of State’s office at the moment, though, because the office is closed for Veterans Day. Somewhat ironically, Smith notes, those votes are believed to favor the Republican side.
[Image via Chris Kleponis/Pool via CNP/Getty Images]