In a midterm election where hypothetical allegations of voter fraud played strawman for voter-suppression efforts across the country, the conservatives who advocate for Voter ID and strict voter regulations finally uncovered a case of widespread voter fraud...by Republicans.
The Miami Herald reports that a Republican election official allowed residents of Bay County, Fla., to vote by email or fax because they were displaced by recent hurricanes. The Herald reports:
Bay County Supervisor of Elections Mark Andersen said Monday that 11 ballots were accepted by email and 147 ballots were domestically faxed in, though state statute does not allow emailed ballots and faxing in ballots is only permitted for military and voters overseas...
Gov. Rick Scott issued an executive order filed Oct. 18 that allowed elections supervisors in eight hurricane-hit counties — Bay, Calhoun, Franklin, Gadsden, Gulf, Jackson, Liberty and Washington — to extend early voting days and designate more early voting locations, among other measures meant to lessen the storm’s impact on voting.
But it did not allow for votes to be returned by email or fax.
Even though a news release from the Florida Department of State that accompanied Gov. Scott’s executive order explicitly stated : “Voting by fax or email is not an option under the Executive Order,” we must note that Bay County’s white population is 20 percent higher than the state of Florida’s, so the white privilege exception may be at play.
Which is why it’s so puzzling that when officials finally uncovered a significant effort to skirt election laws, it turned out to be a Republican-led effort in a heavily Republican Florida county. And if 147 votes seem like an infinitesimally small number to characterize as “widespread,” this is how big of a scandal this is compared to cases of in-person voter fraud:
In the 2016 election, the Washington Post reports that there were four cases of in-person voter fraud ... in the entire country.
For years, the Republican Party has used the nonexistent threat of voter fraud to eliminate poor and minority voters, even though a (serious) 2014 nationwide study equated in-person voter fraud with the likelihood of someone being abducted by aliens. And when Richard Hasen, a law professor and author of the 2012 book, The Voting Wars, looked at 30 years of data in search of voter fraud changing the outcome of an election, he couldn’t find a single instance, according to the New Yorker.
Still, conservatives have reasoned that without certain hurdles, citizens and people who aren’t eligible to vote could do so if states didn’t require some form of identification and proof of residency. A federal court had to stop Georgia’s Republican gubernatorial nominee, Brian Kemp, from requiring proof of citizenship at the polls. North Dakota effectively stole the right to vote from Native Americans who lived on reservations by requiring street addresses.
Given the diligence of Republicans at protecting the integrity of the vote, how could this happen?
Maybe it’s because Donald Trump beat Hillary Clinton by a whopping 46 points in Bay County during the 2016 election, signaling a potential victory for Republican Senate candidate Rick Scott. Or Maybe it’s because registered Republicans outnumber registered Democrats 2-to-1 in Bay County, according to the Bay County Board of Election’s web page.
Or maybe there’s another reason. While Florida is 55.6 percent white, Bay County’s white residents make up 77.7 percent of the area’s residents. Whiteness, as in most cases, explains everything. It also answers the question:
“Who the hell still has a fax machine?”