You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Florida’s 67 election supervisors urge voters to reject election falsehoods, audits

Orlando Sentinel logoOrlando Sentinel 10/27/2021 Steven Lemongello, Orlando Sentinel

Florida’s 67 county elections supervisors wrote a letter to voters Monday urging them to reject falsehoods about the 2020 election and reaffirming the integrity of the state’s voting system.

The plea, issued by the Florida Supervisors of Elections, comes after GOP county committees in Lake and Brevard County called for an Arizona-style “forensic audit” spurred by former president Donald Trump’s false claims of election fraud.

It was sent days after the supervisors, headed by Marion County election head Wesley Wilcox, issued a statement to Florida’s elected officials and candidates urging them to tamp down the rhetoric.

“The strength of our nation rests on the ability that ‘We the People’ have a voice in its governance and are confident in the integrity of our elections,” Monday’s letter states. “In this hour, public trust in our elections is being systematically undermined, to the detriment of all Americans.”

The letter says before and after the 2020 presidential election, “the integrity of our democracy has been challenged by misinformation, disinformation, and malinformation that sows discord and undermines trust in America’s electoral process.”

The supervisors pledged that Florida’s voter rolls are accurate, paper ballots are counted using certified, publicly tested machines, and a public audit was already held following the election as it has after every election.

“My goal last week was to elected officials, [and] my advice to them was, ‘Don’t just stand around and allow the election process to get torn down,’” Wilcox, a Republican, told the Orlando Sentinel. “And so this week’s message is more to our voters, letting them know [that] there’s a whole group of people out there that are just spouting misinformation. … Unfortunately, good people are getting sucked into this quagmire.”

He said elections offices “whether it be mine, or any of my 66 other colleagues, we’re the trusted voices on election-related stuff. We’re the people that can give you accurate information. … I just want to remind them who we are and what we do. And I’m hoping to instill confidence back in our system.”

Despite Trump winning Florida 51% to 48% over President Biden, the Lake County GOP unanimously demanded that the Legislature conduct an “immediate, open, transparent and independent full forensic audit, including a hand recount” of Lake County and the entire state, “at least as thorough as the audit being conducted in Maricopa County, Arizona.”

The Maricopa audit, authorized by the GOP-controlled Arizona Senate based on Trump’s false allegations of fraud, ultimately concluded that Biden actually got more votes than originally reported. The company that conducted the audit, Florida-based Cyber Ninjas, was later criticized by a data analyst for the Arizona GOP as having “made up the numbers” in a faulty process.

Still, similar audits are being sought by some Republicans and other groups in other states Biden won, including Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, as well as in states Trump won such as Idaho and Texas.

Many of those calls are being pushed by MyPillow founder Mike Lindell, who the Lake County GOP said had influenced their demand for an audit. Lindell is being sued for defamation by voting machine manufacturer Dominion for $1.3 billion.

The Brevard County GOP has also called for a “forensic” audit. Trump won both Lake and Brevard counties handily in 2020.

Gov. Ron DeSantis, despite praising the state’s election in November, later pushed for a number of controversial election changes, including limited drop boxes for mail-in ballots and restrictions on voter canvassing.

Asked about the calls for a new audit in St. Pete Beach on Oct. 12, DeSantis said audits had already occurred. “There’s a pre- and post-election audit that happens automatically. So that has happened,” he said. “It passed with flying colors, in terms of how that’s going.”

Alan Hays, the Republican Lake County elections supervisor, said he was “truly proud” to be a member of the Florida supervisors association.

“It’s not just the elected supervisors, it’s our professional staff that is here day in and day out, dedicating themselves to the same level of accuracy and the same level of professionalism that we supervisors have,” Hays said. “...This is truly a group of professionals that work every day of the year to make sure that Floridians get to enjoy accurate, credible, secure elections.

“The idea of it being easy to hack into the systems and to do all the things that are being alleged as having taken place? If it weren’t so serious an accusation, it would be laughable,” Hays added. “But it has absolutely no basis in fact whatsoever.”

Chris Anderson, the Republican Seminole County elections supervisor, said he has received several phone calls from voters questioning the election process.

“And I do the best job that I can to communicate directly to them and answer all of their questions,” Anderson said. “Once they come to us, and they’re given the correct information, that process usually ends up going over very well. And voters walk away from us feeling much more educated and they feel much more secure.”

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon