Right-wing media claim Democrats are trying to “steal” Florida elections by insisting all votes be counted

Marco Rubio falsely claims “democrat lawyers” are trying to steal Florida elections

On November 8, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) claimed that “democrat lawyers” are trying “to change the results of [the] election” this week in Florida, a conspiracy theory that numerous conservative media figures are also running with. Rubio’s tweets argued that votes still being tallied, which are bringing a number of races within the margin to trigger an automatic recount, shouldn’t be counted, in part because the “law requires counties report early voting & vote-by-mail within 30 minutes after polls close.” In reality, Rubio botched his description of Florida law, and the officials in charge of counting the votes are Republican appointees.

Local reporters immediately debunk Rubio-inspired conspiracy theory

Miami New Times: Republican appointees are in charge of recount. Shortly after Rubio tweeted his baseless charge of Democrats trying to steal the election alongside an erroneous interpretation of Florida election law, the Miami New Times debunked his allegations of illegal partisanship on the part of election officials. From the Miami New Times:

Though Rubio is correct that the Broward elections department absolutely sucks, the office has never been accused (credibly, at least) of tampering with election results or illegally tipping the scales toward one candidate. There's also zero evidence that the Democratic “lawyers” Rubio references are up to anything more nefarious than normal.

Rubio is also leaving out some really important details. For one, [Supervisor of Elections Brenda] Snipes was a [former Republican Gov.] Jeb Bush appointee, so she's not exactly an obvious partisan. Two: The person in charge of election recounts at the state level is Secretary of State Ken Detzner, whom [Gov. Rick] Scott appointed to the job. Detzner and Scott were repeatedly accused of working together to hatch schemes designed to suppress Democratic votes over the past eight years. It is, frankly, a blatant conflict of interest for Detzner to oversee Scott's recount, but Rubio isn't complaining about that here. [Miami New Times, 11/8/17]

Sun Sentinel reporter: Rubio is wrong, “it's all there on the Div. of Elections website of the state [Rubio] represent[s].” In response to Rubio’s tweets, Sun Sentinel reporter Dan Sweeney explained that Rubio was botching the rules about the reporting of vote-by-mail ballots. As Sweeney explained, the 30-minute Election Day deadline Rubio referenced is only applicable to tabulated votes. In fact, unofficial results are due “by noon the fourth day after the election -- two days from now.”

Florida Statutes, 102.141(4)(b). Applicable state law confirms that Rubio omitted the fact that it is tabulated vote-by-mail results which are due “within 30 minutes after the polls close.” Furthermore, the statute allows for circumstances of delay that “do not permit periodic updates as required” as long as the department of state is notified:

(b) The canvassing board shall report all early voting and all tabulated vote-by-mail results to the Department of State within 30 minutes after the polls close. Thereafter, the canvassing board shall report, with the exception of provisional ballot results, updated precinct election results to the department at least every 45 minutes until all results are completely reported. The supervisor of elections shall notify the department immediately of any circumstances that do not permit periodic updates as required. Results shall be submitted in a format prescribed by the department. [Online Sunshine, accessed 11/08/18]

Election officials clearly explained the reporting and certification timeline in 2018 and 2016. The reporting rule Rubio is misstating is not new. The Florida Department of State issued a “Timeline for Reporting and Certification of 2018 General Election Results,” which mirrored the one from 2016 and directed interested readers to 102.141(4)(b), the relevant statute. [Florida Department of State Timeline 2018, 2016]

Both before and after Rubio's tweets, right-wing media have gone into overdrive claiming that Democrats are trying to “steal” the election

Fox’s Sean Hannity: Democrats are descending on Florida and “my sources are telling me that … more votes are just appearing out of nowhere from [Democratic Sen. Bill] Nelson and Gillum.”

The Federalist’s Sean Davis: “Democrats are actively working to steal another election in Florida.”

Newsmax’s John Cardillo: “Don’t be shocked when Brenda Snipes, Broward County Sup. of Elections, mysteriously ‘finds’ more votes for Gillum.”

Radio host and professional Trump sycophant Bill Mitchell: “Typical Broward County shenanigans. 10's of thousands of votes being ‘found’, all magically for the Democrats. Never changes. Stay tuned.”

Mitchell: “Gillum won Broward with 68% of the vote. If all of these ‘magical new votes’ being found in Broward for Gillum exceed 68%, you know some BS is happening there.”

Twitter troll Laura Loomer: “Doesn't it feel like the Democrats are trying to steal the elections in Arizona , Georgia, and Florida? This is so disturbing. So much voter fraud.”

Conservative author Ann Coulter: “Oh for God's sake, Florida!  Didn't 2000 teach you that you can't steal elections in private anymore?”

Former Fox host Kimberly Guilfoyle shared an article from the Gateway Pundit: “Rubio Sounds the Alarm: Broward County Election Officials Trying to Steal Election - Produce Thousands of Ballots 43 Hrs After Polls Closed.”

Gateway Pundit’s Jim Hoft shared the same article.

Fox’s Kevin Corke: “Sounds like [Rubio] is saying the #Democrats are trying to #steal an election. Paging the @TheJusticeDept.”

Conservative Review’s Daniel Horowitz: “How many races are we going to allow them to steal with these provisional ballots, lawfare, judicial supremacy, and illegal and unethical ballot harvesting?”

FoxNews.com's Stephen Miller quote-tweeted New York Post columnist John Podhoretz’s tweet that “Rubio is effectively accusing the elections supervisor in Broward County of holding votes in reserve ... to use tactically in a recount,” writing, “Rubio is correct.”

MSNBC’s Hugh Hewitt: Broward County officials are basically asking Democrats, “How many [votes] do you need.”

Right-wing troll Jack Posobiec: “They sidelined Roger Stone so they could steal Florida Payback for 2000.”

Turning Point USA’s Charlie Kirk: "Florida! Stay vigilant, the left has stolen races before with voter fraud and finding ballots after the election is over If you live in Florida volunteer for the recounts, don't let the left steal the governor mansion or a Senate seat Voter fraud is real”