9 Investigates

Florida is no stranger to election drama; but what’s the biggest threat facing the state’s election this year?

ORLANDO, Fla. — Florida, a state known for surf, sand and election screw-ups.

It’s a problem made all the worse by the state’s razor-thin margins and importance in presidential elections.

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Channel 9 political reporter Christopher Heath takes a look back at what’s gone wrong, and why there may be hope yet for things to go right. But then again, it’s Florida.

On Nov. 8, 2018, two days after the mid-term election, poll officials in Broward and Palm Beach counties were still finding ballots.

Gov. Rick Scott, who at the time was running for Senate and facing a recount, emerged from the governor’s mansion and used his power as governor to call for an investigation into voter fraud.

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Eighteen months later, with Scott now a U.S. Senator, the investigation ended after finding nothing.

The Scott allegations were just the latest mark against a state that has tried to turn the page election after election, only to be knocked back.

In 2000, it was hanging chads, and a Supreme Court case.

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Six years later, the chads were gone, replaced by touch screen voting machines that failed.

By 2016 the Russians had arrived, infiltrating at least two Florida counties, although the Feds won’t say which ones.

“Just about everyone from Florida has said we need this information and we still don’t know yeah it is frustrating, absolutely,” U.S. Rep. Michael Waltz said.

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The Central Florida Republican filed a bill with Democrat Stephanie Murphy to provide this information, but it hasn’t passed.

“The alerts bill which would notify the public anytime their data has been breached or there’s been a breach into our election infrastructure,” he said.

That brings us to 2020.

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As former Seminole County Supervisor of Elections Mike Ertel notes, close elections draw in extra scrutiny and more often than not outside actors looking to cause havoc or spread misinformation.

Political strategist Mac Stipanovich, who worked on the 2000 recount, doesn’t think ballots and machines will be the issue in 2020.

He said its people, both foreign and at home, making unfounded allegations.

“All it does is undermine the public’s confidence in the fairness of their elections and the legitimacy of their government,” Stipanovich said.