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‘Blame the Russians’: Trump Trolls Florida, Georgia Vote Counting Issues

© REUTERS / Kevin LamarqueU.S. President Donald Trump points to a questioner while taking questions during a news conference following Tuesday's midterm congressional elections at the White House in Washington, U.S., November 7, 2018
U.S. President Donald Trump points to a questioner while taking questions during a news conference following Tuesday's midterm congressional elections at the White House in Washington, U.S., November 7, 2018 - Sputnik International
Several election races in Georgia and Florida have been too close to call since the Tuesday election, and now both states are heading for recounts as late and absentee ballots continue to come in. US President Donald Trump added to the already contentious issue by suggesting “let’s blame the Russians” for voting irregularities.

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Trump threw his hornet's nest of a tweet Friday morning into this already high-strung environment, mocking Democratic attempts to reverse their initial defeat, even if a very close one, during the first round of counting.

"You mean they are just now finding votes in Florida and Georgia — but the Election was on Tuesday? Let's blame the Russians and demand an immediate apology from President Putin!" Trump wrote on the social media site Friday morning. He continued to tweet throughout the day, commenting on races in both states.

​This, of course, has been the refrain by Democrats since the November 2016 election that catapulted Trump to the presidency and brought his Republican Party into control of both houses of Congress. Unconvinced it was possible for Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, the establishment candidate par excellence, to lose to a fast-talking business mogul lacking any political or diplomatic experience, Democrats took up the banner of Russian collusion, alleging that Russians acting at the behest of Russian President Vladimir Putin had set out to sabotage the US election by attacking the electoral and voting process, as well as by colluding with Trump's electoral campaign to ensure that he won.

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There is, of course, no proof that this occurred, and the two-year investigation has turned up nothing at all except unrelated financial crimes by Trump affiliates. That didn't stop Democrats from trying to claim the same, if not worse, was in store for the midterm elections, with apocalyptic predictions coming from the mainstream liberal media and from the US intelligence community — predictions that fell flat on their faces Tuesday when there was no hacking or interference detected at all, as Sputnik has reported.

It does, however, raise the question: why are irregularities in the voting process — missing votes that may turn the tide of the race at the 11th hour, votes that can now become counted in recounts but weren't the first time, etc — only suspicious when they result in Democrats losing their elections, but simply parts of the democratic process when it could result in them winning?

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The Georgia and Florida governors' races are similar in many ways: both feature progressive black candidates running against conservative white candidates in former Confederate states and have been very racially charged campaigns, with allegations of racist dog whistling and voter suppression targeted predominantly at African-American voters. Now they have another thing in common: they're both too close to firmly declare a winner and are heading for recounts and possibly runoff elections to finally settle the question of who will lead their respective state governments.

​In Georgia, Republican Brian Kemp leads Democrat Stacy Abrams by about 63,000 votes, holding 50.3 percent of the vote. Abrams has 48.7 percent of the vote. However, there are at least 41,000 uncounted votes coming from absentee and provisional ballots, particularly from areas in the south of the state that only weeks ago were marauded by the powerful Hurricane Michael, which swept across the region last month. It's not enough votes for Abrams to win outright, but it could close the gap enough to force a runoff election.

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"Brian Kemp is 25,622 votes above the threshold for a runoff election. Twenty-five thousand votes of nearly 4 million cast are at issue in this race," Abrams campaign manager Lauren Groh-Wargo said on Thursday. "By [Kemp's] own admission, there are at least 25,000 outstanding votes, and hundreds if not thousands of more that we are learning about and discovering every day."

But while Abrams pursues a runoff, Kemp has declared victory, saying there aren't enough outstanding ballots to force a recount. "Simply put, it is mathematically impossible for Stacey Abrams to win or force a run-off election," Cody Hall, the Kemp campaign's press secretary, said in a statement Thursday.

​To the south of Georgia, Florida's gubernatorial race between Democrat Andrew Gillum and Republican Ron DeSantis faces a similar conundrum, where the race is even closer. On Thursday morning, DeSantis led Gillum by just 42,948 votes out of 8,189,305 cast, equal to 0.52 percent of the vote, according to the Miami Herald. Florida law automatically requires a recount if the leader's margin of victory is less than one percentage point. Gillum has continued to gain ground, garnering another 4,441 votes by Thursday afternoon.

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Likewise, thousands of ballots remain uncounted, including absentee ballots and provisional ballots, some of which might have been disqualified during the initial count due to missing IDs or mismatching addresses, but which might become count-worthy if those details are verified by poll workers, Vox reported.

"It has become clear there are many more uncounted ballots than was originally reported," Gillum campaign spokeswoman Johanna Cervones aid in a statement Thursday. "Our campaign, along with our attorney Barry Richard, is monitoring the situation closely and is ready for any outcome, including a state-mandated recount."

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The race for one of Florida's US Senate seats is even closer: incumbent Democratic Senator Bill Nelson trails his challenger, outgoing Florida Governor Rick Scott, by only 22,000 votes, or 0.26 percent. A recount is inevitable, but there are fears that Democratic stronghold Broward County had problems with its election machines failing to read parts of ballots, and thus showing no votes in the Senate races at the top of the ballot but marking votes for other races lower down on the sheet. A recount by hand could turn up enough votes to reverse the initial count, The Hill reported.

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