The candidates have campaigned for months, the last of a record number of voters will cast their ballots across the nation Tuesday and the 2020 election will be over but for the counting.
And, of course, the litigating.
Florida, again, is among the states most likely to have litigative-contested results after Tuesday’s election, according to University of California-Irvine political science professor Richard Hasen’s annual pre-election projections of post-election chaos.
Because of the state’s decade-long familiarity with mail-in ballot processing, expansive early voting opportunities and law that allows local elections supervisors to count ballots as they are received, any issues Florida encounters Tuesday likely will be because of razor-thin margins, not technical, legal or administrative failures.
Nearly 9 million of the state’s 14.44 million registered voters had cast ballots through Sunday, according to the Florida Division of Elections (FDOE). As many as 3 million Floridians are expected to cast ballots Tuesday.
The national Democratic and Republican parties are not investing heavily in efforts to avert or prepare for recounts, which state law automatically triggers if final margins between candidates are within a half-percent or less when certified Saturday.
Democratic challenger Joe Biden’s campaign has 4,000 lawyers on standby or already working in Florida, it assured the 13 Democrats in the state’s congressional delegation last month.
The Democratic National Committee’s leading election lawyer, Marc Elias, who is has litigated many cases in Florida, already is on attack in jurisdictions nationwide over alleged GOP voter suppression.
State Democrats, the Biden campaign and Common Cause Florida have trained volunteers to watch for evidence of voter suppression.
Of the 2,500 people Common Cause has trained to monitor polls nationwide, about 1,000 will be deployed to Florida.
“We are deploying our poll monitors in 25 major counties, but we are covering most of the state, probably 55 counties (of the 67), with smaller groups of folks who are those enthusiastic volunteers who want to do something this election cycle,” Common Cause Florida Chairperson Liza McClenaghan said.
Florida Republicans also have trained “hundreds” of attorneys and volunteers to serve as poll watchers who will observe Tuesday’s vote at poll sites and canvassing boards where votes are counted and will monitor legal developments, state party spokesperson Alia Faraj said.
“Our efforts include ensuring that supervisors of elections are following the law and observing and documenting any potential fraud or irregularities that could impact the election,” Faraj said. “Our top priority remains ensuring that every legal vote is counted, that no voter is disenfranchised, and that voters understand election laws and procedures.”
At least one potential lawsuit already has surfaced. State Voices Florida, a nonprofit group that promotes voting and civic engagement, said last at least 21,000 mail-in ballots had been rejected because of issues such as new addresses and mismatched signatures.
Voters can “cure” these problems but only if they are made aware of whatever mistake they need to remedy, State Voices Florida Executive Director Juanica Fernandes said.
“This leaves a voter without an opportunity to have their voice heard, and that’s not acceptable,” she said. “What’s happening is they are not counting the ballots at all.”