Counting Every Vote

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Why, oh why, does it always come down to Florida?

Nearly a week after Election Day, here we are again, still waiting for results in five statewide elections. Three of them are in Florida, of course, the result of a state law mandating the recount of races with tight margins. That’s prompted a flurry of withdrawn concessions, competing lawsuits and fraud accusations.

Even the president weighed in this morning, urging officials to “go with Election Night!” President Trump’s motive is obvious: Two of his favorites, the Republicans Rick Scott and Ron DeSantis, were ahead in the vote count after that first day. Why play nine innings, his thinking goes, when you’re up in the sixth?

But there does seem to be this thing with elections in the country’s biggest battleground state; the words “Broward County” alone make election officials across the country shudder. The county has a long history of slow and convoluted vote counting, including during the 2000 presidential recount — or, as our intrepid Florida correspondent Patricia Mazzei calls it, “the election that must not be named.”

But does that mean the voters, or their votes, are illegitimate? No.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the secretary of state’s office have found no evidence of fraud, despite repeated claims over the weekend from Mr. Scott, the outgoing governor and Republican nominee for Senate. Meanwhile, Senator Bill Nelson, the Democrat who’s running for re-election, called on Mr. Scott to recuse himself from “any role” in the recount process.

The strange thing about all this is that if history is any guide, the recounts are unlikely to change the final results. Between 2000 and 2016, there were 4,687 statewide general elections and just 26 statewide recounts. Only three — a total of .06 percent of all statewide elections — reversed the initial result, according to an analysis by the nonpartisan group FairVote.

That study argues that winning candidates should welcome recounts as a way to enhance their legitimacy. “To recount the vote is to verify its accuracy,” wrote Maya Efrati, the author of the study.

That’s not exactly how the president and Florida Republicans see it. On Monday, the Broward circuit chief judge begged the lawyers involved in the recount to “ramp down the rhetoric.”

“We need to be careful what we say,” said the judge, Jack Tuter, rejecting a request by Mr. Scott to impound unused voting machines and ballots. “These words mean things these days, as everybody in the room knows.”

It was a busy weekend for undecided elections in Florida and elsewhere. Here’s a recap of where things stand today:

• The first full, statewide vote recount in Florida history started on Saturday for races for governor, Senate and agriculture secretary. The deadline for the recount, which is being performed by machines, is Thursday at 3 p.m. But if the machine recount comes back with a margin of .25 percentage points or less, the state will begin…

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