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On Election Reform, a Tale of Two States


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Real Clear P{politics

Early on during election night 2020, it appeared that Donald Trump might win reelection. This misimpression, of course, turned out to be a red mirage, as some election analysts dubbed it. What caused it? In part, it was the networks’ call of Florida for Trump while Pennsylvania stayed in the undecided column for days. You might think that Pennsylvania would reform its election policies in response. Yet, a year and a half later, the same problems seen in 2020 caused confusion over how many ballots remained uncounted and which candidate was ahead in the state’s 2022 Republican Senate primary.

By contrast, Florida is unlikely to see such problems when it holds its primary on August 23. Despite its recent Republican lean, the state will likely see competitive primaries and general elections for some of its offices – and without the vote-counting drama that Pennsylvania has endured. The difference comes down to the election policies the two states have adopted.

Florida knows something about election strife. In 2000, Florida was the site of the infamous Bush–Gore recount. In the aftermath of George W. Bush’s victory, many Americans lost confidence in the integrity of our elections. In response, Florida enacted the Election Reform Act of 2001. The law provided uniform guidelines for all Florida counties’ ballots and provided financial support for election infrastructure and training to all poll workers. Finally, the law centralized the review of recounts to prevent any county going rogue or avoiding accountability.

Over the next 18 years, Florida saw some close races, but none with major controversy. In 2018, the state saw its closest elections since 2000, with the gubernatorial, Senate, and agricultural commissioner races going down to the wire. It took more than a week to call the Senate and agricultural commissioner races, both of which went to recounts – and recounts do take time.:snip:

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