Nov 15, 2018

3. "Laughingstock" USA: Florida recount woes cause election chaos

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

Eighteen years after hanging chads and the Brooks Brothers riot, the Sunshine State is once again at the center of an election mess of its own doing.

The big picture: Florida is in the middle of three statewide recounts, and three counties in particular (Palm Beach, Hillsborough and Broward) haven't helped the situation.

  • “We have been the laughingstock of the world, election after election, and we chose not to fix this,” U.S. District Judge Mark Walker said today while rejecting a request to extend the state deadline for counties to submit their machine recount results.

Driving the news: Broward finished its recount just minutes before the deadline, the Miami Herald reports.

  • Palm Beach County missed the deadline, along with several smaller counties.
  • Hillsborough County, which includes Tampa, won't submit its results after a recount "turned up 846 fewer than originally counted," the Tampa Bay Times reported.

Between the lines: The state's election infrastructure is a disaster.

  • Ballots tossed out for signature mismatches: Judge Walker ruled today "that voters whose ballots were invalidated by [signature] mismatches would have until 5 p.m. Saturday to resolve the problem. The new deadline would apply to just over 4,000 rejected ballots that could now be counted." [N.Y. Times]
  • Poorly designed ballots: Nearly 25,000 people voted for governor but not the Senate in Broward County, which "put the Senate race in the bottom left-hand corner, below the instructions." [Sun-Sentinel]
  • Overheated vote tallying machines: "Meanwhile, problems continued in Palm Beach County, where tallying machines overheated while working overtime. That caused mismatched results with the recount of 174,000 early voting ballots, forcing workers to go back and redo their work." [AP]

The bottom line: The recount drama is especially significant in Florida's Senate race, Axios' Khorri Atkinson reports.

  • Gov. Rick Scott is leading Sen. Bill Nelson by fewer than 13,000 votes. Scott immediately filed an appeal Thursday challenging Warner's decision to allow Florida to potentially count ballots with mismatched signatures.

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Live updates: Coronavirus spreads to Latin America

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens.

Brazil confirmed the first novel coronavirus case in Latin America Wednesday — a 61-year-old that tested positive after returning from a visit to northern Italy, the epicenter of Europe's outbreak.

The big picture: COVID-19 has killed more than 2,700 people and infected over 81,000 others. By Wednesday morning, South Korea had the most cases outside China, with 1,261 infections. Europe's biggest outbreak is in Italy, where 374 cases have been confirmed.

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GOP congressman accuses California pension official of working for China

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

The latest season of Red Scare has come to Sacramento.

Driving the news: Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.) has repeatedly accused Ben Meng, chief investment officer of the California Public Employees' Retirement System (CalPERS) of tacitly working on behalf of the Chinese government. Banks also says that, were it up to him, Meng would be fired — and has questioned the patriotism of California Gov. Gavin Newsom for not at least investigating Meng.

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South Carolina "kingmaker" Jim Clyburn endorses Joe Biden

Joe Biden with Rep. Jim Clyburn at the World Famous Jim Clyburn Fish Fry in Columbia, South Carolina in June 2019. Photo: Logan Cyrus/AFP via Getty Images

House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.), the highest-ranking black member of Congress, endorsed former Vice President Joe Biden Wednesday, days before South Carolina's primary.

Why it matters: Clyburn wields tremendous political influence in South Carolina, where a weak showing by Biden could be the death blow to his presidential campaign. Biden has long viewed the state as his firewall due to his strong support among black voters, who make up about 60% of South Carolina's Democratic electorate.