'Just Count the Votes': Where Voter Suppression Not Quite Enough, GOP Now Trying to Stop Ballot-Counting in Multiple States

Neither Stacey Abrams' nor Andrew Gillum's election races were finalized as of Friday because votes were still being counted. (Photo: @ajplus/Twitter)

'Just Count the Votes': Where Voter Suppression Not Quite Enough, GOP Now Trying to Stop Ballot-Counting in Multiple States

"Counting votes isn't partisan—it's democracy."

As Republicans in several states attempted to halt the tallying of votes in some of the nation's closest midterm election races, watchdog groups and Democratic lawmakers condemned what they called attacks on the electoral process and democracy itself.

In Florida's race for U.S. Senate, Republican Rick Scott, currently the state's governor, appeared to be staving off a potential loss by filing suit against Broward County's election supervisor, after new vote tallies narrowed his margin of victory over Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson. As of Thursday night, Scott was beating Nelson by just .2 percentage points, well within the .5-point margin that triggers an automatic recount for Florida Senate races.

Scott accused "unethical liberals" of trying to "steal" the election by reporting all the ballots, a claim Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum denounced on Twitter.

"Just count the votes," Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) told MSNBC Friday. "There is zero evidence, no evidence of any illegal activity. There is no evidence that Democratic lawyers are trying to steal an election. All we want is for the votes to be counted. Now remember, we had fight in 2000 about a recount. We're not even to the recount yet. Right now Marco Rubio and Rick Scott are trying to stop people's votes from being counted. And as we know there are lots of votes that haven't been counted...and if you don't count votes then democracy dies."

Gillum conceded his own race Tuesday night--before a rapidly narrowing margin between his votes and those of Republican Ron DeSantis became apparent.

Provisional ballots in Florida's 67 counties were still being counted as of Friday, with officials looking to meet a deadline of noon on Saturday. Both the Senate and governor's races could be headed for a recount, as DeSantis is currently leading Gillum by only .44 points as of Friday.

Meanwhile, a court in Arizona was scheduled on Friday to issue a ruling in a suit by Republican leaders, attempting to stop the state from verifying the signatures on mail-in ballots in four counties. The suit was filed as continued tallying called into question Republican Rep. Martha McSally's victory in the race for Sen. Jeff Flake's (R-Ariz.) seat.

As of Friday, Democratic Rep. Kyrsten Sinema had pulled ahead, with 49.1 percent of the vote over McSally's 48.6 percent.

Sinema and Nelson's potential victories would give Republicans a smaller majority in the Senate, economist Paul Krugman noted--but that concern is secondary to the fact that attempting to stop a vote count in order to hold on to a win is illegal.

And in Georgia, Democrat Stacey Abrams has not yet conceded her gubernatorial race to Brian Kemp, who resigned as Secretary of State on Thursday, as votes were still being counted as of Friday in another close race.

Many Georgia voters endured hours-long waits and encountered broken voting machines as they went to cast their votes for Abrams, who would be the nation's first black woman to serve as a state governor, and Kemp, who has been accused of rampant voter suppression as the state's top election official.

"This election presented Georgia voters with unnecessary and manufactured obstacles to the ballot, including voter purges, poll closures, long lines, and broken machines--all of which disproportionately harmed communities of color," said the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, and the NAACP on Friday.

Now, the groups said, "we urge officials to ensure every ballot is counted. Voters must know that our elections are free, fair, and equally accessible to all. This is not just about Georgia; if voters cannot trust that their voices will be heard, then the system has failed them."

After a court ordered the state to keep polling places open past 7:00pm Tuesday night due to long lines and other problems throughout Election Day, counties were continuing to count ballots as of Friday.

President Donald Trump declared Kemp the winner Friday and mocked the delay before turning his attention to Florida--where he said he would send lawyers "to expose the fraud" taking place there as officials count provisional ballots.

Murphy summed up his advice for election officials on Twitter, saying simply that counting all votes is necessary if the U.S. is to consider itself a democracy.

"Count all the votes in Florida and Arizona," Murphy wrote. "And Georgia. And, like, anywhere the votes haven't been counted."

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