Over a week after the 2018 midterm elections, 11 major elections remain undecided. Seven in the US House, two in the US Senate and 2 Governor’s races. Two of those 11 are in the state of Florida, where a Senate seat and Governor’s race await recounts.
But not everyone supports counting all the votes cast. The GOP in several states—including Maine and Georgia in addition to Florida—took steps to halt recounts and run-offs. Federal lawsuits were filed by the GOP to stop counts while Democrats filed to count all of the ballots.
Judges are siding with the Democrats so far in Georgia, Maine and Florida.
In Maine, US District Court Judge Lance Walker ruled Thursday on incumbent Republican Representative Bruce Poliquin’s attempts to block voter approved ranked choice voting to decide the outcome of his contest against Democratic challenger Jared Golden. Ranked choice voting prevailed and Jared Golden won the seat in the US House of Representatives.
In his decision, Judge Lance Walker stated:
“As it stands, the citizens of Maine have rejected the policy arguments plaintiffs advance against RCV (ranked choice voting). Maine voters cast their ballots in reliance on the RCV system. For the reasons indicated above, I am not persuaded that the United States Constitution compels the Court to interfere with this most sacred expression of democratic will by enjoining the ballot-counting process and declaring Representative Poliquin the victor.”
After ranked choice tabulations, Democrat Golden won by 2, 905 votes over Republican Poliquin.
BREAKING: Ranked Choice Voting determines winner of Maine’s 2nd Congressional District is DEMOCRAT JARED GOLDEN pic.twitter.com/3sQeeejOyS
— Danielle Waugh NBC 10 Boston (@DWaughNBCBoston) November 15, 2018
Poliquin is likely to still pursue his lawsuit to overturn ranked choice voting, approved twice by Maine voters.
In Florida, Republicans tried to block counting ballots with “signature issues.” But US District Court Judge Mark Walker ruled the refusal to allow voters impacted by this decision to “cure” their ballots was unconstitutional.
Voters affected now have until 5pm on Saturday to remedy any issue with their ballot signatures.
Florida voters: you have until 5 pm on Saturday Nov 17th to cure absentee ballots rejected for signature mismatch. At least 5,000 ballots rejected for this reason https://t.co/gsSx812JGt
Use this form to do it https://t.co/GXzewLsPKn
Please RT & spread word
— Ari Berman (@AriBerman) November 15, 2018
@TJMShow Hey Tom! Can you please let your listeners know that they have until Saturday at 5pm to cure a signature issue with their vote by mail ballot in Florida. This is important. They can find out if their ballot has not been “tabulated” at the SOE website for their county.
— Pam Keith (@PamKeithFL) November 15, 2018
In his Florida ruling, Judge Mark Walker stated:
“The precise issue in this case is whether Florida’s law that allows county election officials to reject vote-by-mail and provisional ballots for mismatched signatures—with no standards, an illusory process to cure, and no process to challenge the rejection—passes constitutional muster.”
“The answer is simple. It does not.”
Judge Walker added:
“Let this Court be clear: it is NOT ordering county canvassing boards to count every mismatched vote, sight unseen.”
“Rather, the county supervisors of elections are directed to allow those voters who should have had an opportunity to cure their ballots in the first place to cure their vote-by-mail and provisional ballots now, before the second official results are fully counted.”
Florida Republican Governor Rick Scott—who is also trying to win the Senate seat against Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson—called the ruling baseless and announced a plan to appeal.
Statement from the Scott for Florida team in response to today’s ruling: pic.twitter.com/nbsT3SEUPz
— Rick Scott (@ScottforFlorida) November 15, 2018
Democrats in Florida, of course, saw things differently.
What a relief! Thanks to Judge Walker for common sense ruling allowing votes to count. I plan to address the issue with my ballot at the PBC election office tomorrow – thankful that my vote will be counted! ✅ https://t.co/FdTY6KELVJ
— Patrick Murphy (@PatrickMurphyFL) November 15, 2018
The state deadline for certifying the election results is November 20.
In Georgia, a judge also ruled in favor of counting versus rejecting votes. Gubernatorial candidate, Democrat Stacey Abrams, applauded the decision.