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Slamming GOP Attempts at Election-Meddling, Gillum Rescinds Concession Speech as Florida Heads for Recount

"We don't just get the opportunity to stop counting votes because we don't like the direction in which the vote tally is heading."

Election workers feed ballots into tabulation machines at the Broward County Supervisor of Elections office on November 10, 2018 in Lauderhill, Florida. Three close midtern election races for governor, senator, and agriculture commissioner are expected to recounted in Florida. (Photo by Joe Skipper/Getty Images)

As his gubernatorial race headed for a recount, Florida Democrat Andrew Gillum withdrew his concession speech from last Tuesday, noting that while his fate in the election may not change after the votes are recounted, the integrity of the country's democratic process will be severely undermined if Republicans succeed in ending the process of counting every vote cast by Floridians.

"I am replacing my earlier concession with an unapologetic and uncompromised call to count every vote," Gillum said in a news conference Saturday afternoon. "We don't just get the opportunity to stop counting votes because we don't like the direction in which the vote tally is heading. That is not democratic and that is certainly not the American way."

Secretary of State Ken Detzner officially called for recounts of Florida's gubernatorial and Senate races after a noon deadline passed for all 67 of the state's counties' unofficial vote tallies, with both races deemed too close to call.

As of the noon deadline, Republican Rick Scott—currently the Florida governor—led Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson by only .15 percent, with about 12,500 more votes in the race fior Nelson's seat. In the gubernatorial election, Republican Ron DeSantis led Gillum by .41 percent of the vote.

"The outcome of this election will have consequences beyond who wins and who loses. How we handle this election and this process will have reverberations for democracy for an entire generation of voters." —Florida gubernatorial candidate Andrew GillumBoth margins of victory triggered an automatic machine recount, to be completed by this coming Thursday. Should either race still have less than a .25 margin after the first recount, a manual recount will be completed.

The recounts followScott's claim that "unethical liberals" were trying to "steal" the election. Scott as well as President Donald Trump called the continued tallying into question, with the governor telling sheriffs to "watch for any violations during the recount process."

Republicans' accusations of fraud by Broward County election officials come despite the fact that the state sent objective observers to supervise the vote-counting on election night. The supervisors have stated that no fraud or covering up of votes took place.

Gillum called the GOP's allegations a form of voter intimidation, liable to keep new voters from taking part in the democratic process in future elections.

"The outcome of this election will have consequences beyond who wins and who loses," the Tallahassee mayor said. "How we handle this election and this process will have reverberations for democracy for an entire generation of voters."

"Voter suppression," he added, "can show up in that first time voter, the one who entered this process so enthusiastic and so excited about the opportunity to go out there and participate in the democratic process, to let their voices be heard—only to hear their president, their governor, their United States senator throw out unsubstantiated claims of fraud and calls and choruses to stop the counting of the votes."

At The Intercept on Saturday, Jon Schwartz urged Gillum and other Democrats locked in close, still-undetermined election races to fight Republican efforts to undercut the counting of votes -- unlike presidential candidate Al Gore, who did not not ask for a statewide manual recount after a re-tallying of votes was halted in December 2000, stating his hope that his concession could help the country find "new common ground."

Citing the National Opinion Research Center's recount of Florida's votes in November 2001, Schwartz wrote, "First, we know that Al Gore won Florida in 2000. If a full, fair statewide recount had taken place, he would have become president. Second, Gore lost largely because, unlike Bush, he refused to fight with all the tools available to him."

Republican operative Roger Stone told the Daily Beast Friday, "many of my friends" are in Florida demonstrating against the vote counts, recalling the Trump associate's organizing of the "Brooks Brothers riots" in 2000 in which Republicans violently protested the state's recount.

"Already the GOP is gearing up for the same kind of direct, physical intimidation of vote counts in support of their legal strategy," wrote Schwartz. "Staffers at the Broward County election headquarters have requested police protection from Republican activists who’ve shown up at their offices addled by Trumpian conspiracy theories about vote fraud."

"Every house of faith, every synagogue, every church, needs to be out in the streets with serious, non-violent action, on a message of 'don't let them steal your vote' … that we must have the right and freedom to vote," union organizer and author Jane McAlevey told The Intercept.

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