Must-Read from Marc Caputo: Trump’s Florida 2018 Vote Conspiracy Collapses

Marc Caputo in Politico:

A Trump election conspiracy theory fell apart Wednesday when Florida’s law enforcement agency said it had found no widespread voter fraud in the 2018 races for Senate and governor.

President Donald Trump had complained repeatedly about election “fraud” and theft in heavily populated, Democrat-rich Broward and Palm Beach counties, which had slowly but erratically updated their vote totals after polls closed on Election Day.

With each updated tally, Republican candidates Rick Scott, who was running for U.S. Senate, and Ron DeSantis, in a bid for the governor’s mansion, saw their margins of victory narrow. Both races ultimately went to recounts.

It’s common for election margins to change as more ballots are counted, but Scott, who was governor at the time, claimed without evidence thatthe counts reeked of Democratic fraud, a conspiracy theory Trump amplified on Twitter. Scott called for an investigation. Trump backed him up.

“Law Enforcement is looking into another big corruption scandal having to do with Election Fraud in #Broward and Palm Beach. Florida voted for Rick Scott!” wrote Trump on Nov. 8, 2018.

In a tweet the next day, the president falsely accused Democrats of sending “their best Election stealing lawyer, Marc Elias, to Broward County they miraculously started finding Democrat votes. Don’t worry, Florida – I am sending much better lawyers to expose the FRAUD!”

But neither Trump’s unnamed “lawyers” nor the Florida Department of Law Enforcement found evidence of a “big corruption scandal.” The state took more than 17 months to wrap up its investigation Wednesday, and found none of the wrongdoing alleged by Trump and Scott….

Election officials and experts expect high voter turnout in November and an increased number of people casting ballots by mail, many for the first time in states that have little experience managing mail-in programs or high volumes of mailed ballots. That’s a recipe for longer and slower vote counting and, if the election is close in battlegrounds like Florida, more potential for fraud claims as vote totals change after the polls close, especially in urban southeast Florida.

“Late-arriving ballots tend to break toward Democrats,” said Michael McDonald, a University of Florida political science professor who specializes in voting by mail.

“It’s not an iron-clad law, but the phenomenon is so prevalent it has a name: the blue shift,” said McDonald. “It happened in California as well in 2018. But perception has built that there’s something nefarious going on here with these ballots being counted late, or after Election Day, but I don’t want to imply there’s anything or illegal or wrong going on.”

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