Florida election officials ask politicians to relax

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TALLAHASSEE – Florida election supervisors have a message for elected officials: “Water down the rhetoric. “

In an appeal to officials at “all levels of government,” the group representing the state’s Republican and Democratic election officials calls on them to denounce the “false allegations” surrounding last year’s election.

“During and after the 2020 presidential election, the integrity of our democracy has been called into question by disinformation, disinformation and misinformation that sows discord and undermines confidence in the US electoral process,” the memo reads. “Many of us have been threatened by our fellow citizens who have been led astray by these deceptions.

“Instead of sitting idly by, we ask all candidates and elected officials to moderate the rhetoric and defend our democracy. “

READ THE MEMO HERE

The note was considered extraordinary for Florida Election Supervisors, the organization representing officials overseeing elections in the state’s 67 counties. Despite Florida’s turbulent election history, supervisors have largely remained in the spotlight, even when Florida lawmakers passed a controversial voting reform bill this year.

Thursday’s memo is overdue, said Marion County Election Supervisor Wesley Wilcox, chairman of Florida Election Supervisors.

“Looking back, we probably should have done it 8 or 9 months ago,” Wilcox said. “But it must be done, just to protect the foundations of this democracy. “

Related: Trump won Florida, but online and at your doorstep his supporters try to force an audit

He said the memo is addressed to elected officials around the world – including those who praised Florida’s good handling of the 2020 election while failing to speak out against allegations of Florida fraud in other states.

“You can’t keep toppling him and expect him to survive,” Wilcox said of the country’s democracy. “If we don’t get up and start doing it for ourselves, no one else will. No one else comes to our aid.

Wilcox, a Republican, said the note did not target any party or politician. Nor was it directed against Florida lawmakers who passed a bill to amend the state’s elections this year.

Florida has been largely untouched by divisive counts and rhetoric in other states, perhaps because former President Donald Trump, who claimed voter fraud cost him the 2020 election, won the ‘State with a substantial margin of 371,686 votes. But Governor Ron DeSantis, a staunch Trump ally, did not quickly acknowledge that President Joe Biden won the election. DeSantis also pushed state lawmakers to pass a series of highly controversial electoral reforms, including a ban on “ballot harvesting” – the door-to-door mail-in ballot collection strategy that Republicans from Florida have been using for 20 years.

The only significant case of voter fraud uncovered in Florida last year is a scandal in Miami, where prosecutors say a former Republican state senator illegally recruited and paid an acquaintance to run in a Senate race. the state, siphoning off votes from the Democrat and helping the Republican win. .

Although he, as governor, defended the performance of Florida’s electoral system in 2020, his political campaign on Wednesday attempted to raise funds by suggesting that Democrats had committed electoral fraud in other states. ‘last year.

“In the 2020 election, Democrats tried every trick in the book,” DeSantis wrote in Wednesday’s fundraising email. “They have used the pandemic as an excuse to change electoral laws in ways that are unconstitutional and conducive to fraud and abuse in our elections. This included mass mailing of unsolicited postal ballots, banning voter identification, collecting ballots, and unsupervised ballot boxes in states across the country. “

Wilcox said Thursday’s memo was approved by its members and was being sent to election supervisors across the country. A separate note to the public is expected to be sent this week.

Although he was not the subject of death threats, Wilcox said he had had to counter unfounded conspiracy theories published online since November and that other supervisors had been threatened. Calls to audit the Florida election have also increased, although DeSantis and other officials have refused a re-examination of the state’s results.

For the first time ever, Florida election supervisors had to be safe when they met this summer.

“It’s a sad comment,” he said. “This is why we are doing this.”

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