Florida vote count circus puts bruise on voting process

There are more than 3,000 counties in the nation that participated in the counting of votes during the recent midterm election.

Only two counties – Broward and West Palm Beach in Florida – seemed to have a problem with the process.

Somehow, ballots were found after the polls closed, empty ballots were being filmed in a rent-a-car, the counting was hazy and an armada of lawyers was necessary to supervise, file lawsuits and clearly try to railroad the result of legitimately cast ballots.

A U.S. Senate and governor’s race were placed in unnecessary limbo for two weeks, dividing a state and nation.

For Broward County, this is about the fourth voting mystery.

At the least, it’s embarrassing incompetence. At worst, there is at least the appearance that votes cast in an election – the most sacred right Americans possess – were being trifled with for political purposes.

As late as Sunday in Broward County, it was announced 2,040 ballots were missing. Really? The supervisor now says she is resigning, claiming racism for much of the criticism aimed at her.

Meanwhile, in counties that were hit by a Category 4 hurricane a month prior to the election, the counting went smoothly. Somehow, those beleaguered people managed to get the process right.

The same is true for the counties in our region. And the state, And every other state in the nation.

And, instead of promoting calm with a gracious concession to the obvious, we have a six-term Senator Bill Nelson insinuating a recount could turn around a 50,000-vote margin, like people are hiding vote results in a nefarious way.

An attorney arrived in Florida the day after the election to announce, “I’m here to get Sen. Nelson a win.”

That’s not the way it works. The person with the most legitimately cast votes wins. And if there is a problem, the point is to get it rectified, not angle the recount with a certain result in mind.

It’s a dangerous infection, this reckless, post-election cynicism toward the voting process. The losing candidate in the Georgia governor’s race insinuated she lost her close race because of “voter suppression,” when there is no evidence of that.

The better course was that taken by the Republican loser in the tight Arizona Senate race, who congratulated her opponent at the end of a bitter campaign and tedious vote count process that saw her ahead most of the time before losing by less than a percentage point. There was no arguing with the result, prolonging the debate or claiming the election was stolen for her.

Election supervisors need to be replaced when history shows they can’t do the job – whatever the reason. And candidates, unless they have substantive proof, need to accept results rather than whining and making wild accusations.

That behavior deflates the democratic voting process and the urge to seek public office at a time when both sorely need promotion.