Democrats are holding a sizeable lead in vote-by-mail enrollment in Florida, leading Republicans by over 300,000 voters, according to Division of Election data released last week.
Current data shows Democrats enjoying a sizeable advantage, enrolling 1.46 million Democrats for vote-by-mail. Republicans, meanwhile, have 1.16 million signed up. According to Politico, Democrats “held an advantage of about 8,800 in vote-by-mail enrollment” in 2016. The news could signal trouble for the Trump campaign, which narrowly secured the Sunshine State in the last election, winning by less than 113,000 votes.
Democrats, both nationwide and in Florida, specifically, have been encouraging voters to apply for absentee ballots, citing concerns related to the novel coronavirus. However, Republicans, including the president and Attorney General William Barr, have warned against vote-by-mail on a large scale due to the increased risk of voter fraud.
The Democrat PAC Priorities USA filed a lawsuit last month against Florida officials, including Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), demanding changes to provisions to make vote-by-mail easier for November’s election.
As Breitbart News reported:
The PAC joined others, including the Florida Alliance for Retired Americans and Alianza for Progress, in challenging certain provisions they believe makes it more difficult for voters to mail in a ballot. They argue that November’s election will bring what Politico described as an “unprecedented spike in demand for mail-in ballots and a reduction of poll workers and elections staff,” citing coronavirus-related concerns.
The groups specifically take aim at the deadline for mail-in ballots, contending that officials should count ballots postmarked by Election Day. They also view the basic requirement for postage as too burdensome. That, in itself, “amounts to a poll tax,” and the “voter assistance ban imposes unreasonable restrictions on speech and the right of association,” Politico explained.
Dozens of Florida election supervisors of both political parties are fighting back, worried that the demands could complicate the state’s handling of the process, which has been under national scrutiny on more than one occasion.
“These late in the day attacks on deadlines are detrimental to operating fair and impartial elections,” said Broward County Supervisor of Elections Peter Antonacci. “We rely on deadlines.”
In addition to deadlines, Polk County Supervisor Lori Edwards also expressed concerns over ballot harvesting.
“I hope the rest of the world is ready to wait for Florida to give its results,” Edwards said, according to Politico.
As Politico reported this month, one motion to dismiss stated that “the burdens and uncertainties of such election-eve legal warfare do not promote, but threaten the smooth and orderly conduct of Florida’s elections.'”
Democrats have largely viewed the coronavirus pandemic as an opportunity to bring their vote-by-mail agenda to the forefront, contending that voters should not have to risk their health to vote in November’s presidential election. However, recent data has not shown a compelling public health justification for vote-by-mail. Only a few dozen people who participated in Wisconsin’s April 7 in-person election later confirmed to have contracted the virus. That was out of 413,000 participants total, equaling an infection rate below two-hundredths of one percent. What is more, some of those who tested positive revealed other ways they may have been exposed to the virus.
President Trump warned of widespread vote-by-mail fraud during an address at Tuesday’s Turning Point USA student convention in Phoenix.
“No, mail-in ballots is a disaster for our country. It’s going to end up in a big fight. You know, look–look, just forget about all of this stuff. Forget about speeches and teleprompters and all of that. They send out millions of ballots. Who’s getting them? How are they delivered? Who is not getting them?” he asked. “Think of it. It’s going to be fraud all over the place.”
“With mail-in ballots, you introduce something in the middle of an election year and you have something where it’s very complex. You have no time to fix this very complex process,” he continued.
“It’s very complex. This will be, in my opinion, the most corrupt election in the history of our country and we cannot let this happen. They want it to happen so badly,” he added, clarifying that absentee ballots are “fine”:
Absentee ballots are fine. Absentee ballots are fine. Like, I live in the White House and if I can’t get to Florida or you or you live wherever you live, you can’t–but you have to go through a process. Some people just can’t make it to a polling station and they have good reason. But they have to go through this process in order to verify their identity. People went to the polls and voted during World War I. They went to the polls and voted during World War II. We can safely go to the polls and vote during COVID-19.
Despite the repeated warnings from the GOP, Florida Secretary of State Laurel Lee (R) told members of the Economic Club of Florida this week that the state is “very well-situated to have a secure and effective vote-by-mail process.”
“Some of what you’re hearing, those generalized concerns, may be more applicable to other states that aren’t as experienced with administering vote-by-mail as part of an election and don’t have some of those safeguards in place to ensure the accuracy of those ballots,” she continued, stressing that Florida’s process “includes checks and balances.”