Florida is, once again, in an election debacle that is straining the bonds of credibility and democracy. Governor Rick Scott has actually called in the state police to investigate “voter fraud” (none was found), then ordered the voting machines impounded in Broward county, all to protect his precarious lead in the US Senate race. A judge, however, emphatically blocked that last command. Senator Marco Rubio, meanwhile, has joined the chorus of those asserting, without any evidence, that something is rotten in Broward county. And Donald Trump has, well, just been Trump. Going so far as to demand that the Republicans be declared victors even before the legal deadline for votes, including those mailed in from military members stationed abroad, to be received and counted. As acrimonious as the 2018 election in Florida has become – as the Republicans seek to discredit the recount – democracy’s wound actually goes much deeper.
The US has consistently been comfortable with the veneer of democracy – the performance of an election – rather than the actual substance. Recounts, for example, can only capture those votes that managed to get into the ballot box.
But how does a democracy count the votes that were deliberately silenced in the face of widespread voter suppression?
This question has arisen repeatedly and the official answer, regardless of whether the disfranchisement was blatant or subtle, has been at best disappointing and, more often, debilitating.