TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – “Perhaps 2020 was the year that we finally vanquished the ghosts of Bush vs. Gore,” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said while addressing the Sunshine State Wednesday, one day after President Donald Trump declared victory in Florida in the 2020 U.S. presidential election.
While there was still no winner declared in a number of states in the presidential race between Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden on Wednesday, DeSantis said during a news conference that Election Day went off without a hitch in Florida, contrary to the state’s history of messy elections.
In fact, DeSantis said the ballot-counting process went so well in Florida, that other states still working to tally up their votes, like Pennsylvania and Nevada, among others, should learn from the Sunshine State.
“If the third most populous state in the country can count 11 million votes, produce a result across the board, why can’t some of these other states that are much smaller?” DeSantis asked during the news conference.
DeSantis, whose gubernatorial race against Democrat Andrew Gillum in 2018 resulted in a recount before he could ultimately claim victory, made it a priority to fix Florida’s messy election process when he took over office.
Some of the changes he made in hopes of seeing elections run more smoothly in Florida included nixing two supervisors of elections in South Florida and appointing Laurel Lee as secretary of state with the responsibility of making sure Florida would be ready for the next election.
DeSantis said he saw those changes pay off in Tuesday’s election.
“When I took office I accepted the resignation of the Broward County Supervisor of Elections and also suspended and removed the Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections. Those two counties did a great job. And I commend both supervisors and those counties for all their hard work,” DeSantis said. “I also appointed Laura Lee as Secretary of State, and she conducted a review of our elections infrastructure. We had a particular focus on cybersecurity just because there have been threats in those areas and took appropriate action, and we also had additional personnel ready to go for this election, should there have needed to be more manpower to help people vote or to process votes.”
The governor said after Florida’s performance on Tuesday night, he thinks election officials in other states across the U.S. will be able to look at Florida as the example.
“People are actually looking at Florida and asking the question, ‘Why can’t the states be more like Florida? Florida was able to handle 11 million ballots.’ ... The way Florida did it, I think, inspires confidence. I think that’s how elections should be run," DeSantis said.
DeSantis, who has not been shy about backing President Trump’s re-election campaign, congratulated the president on his “historic” win in Florida but slammed news networks for waiting so long to declare his victory in the Sunshine State.
“I think he deserves a lot of credit. I also think the fact that he has really helped us with a lot of Florida issues, I think, helped him,” DeSantis said. “Wherever we need it -- hurricane relief, helping our military bases, our space infrastructure and space industries, Everglades funding -- you name it, President’s been there. And I think that was really a historic victory for President Trump here in the state of Florida.”
Though Trump’s lead could be seen pretty early Tuesday night, especially in Miami-Dade county, the Associated Press did not declare him the winner of Florida’s 29 electoral votes until after midnight. Cable TV networks waited even longer to declare Trump’s victory, a move DeSantis slammed Fox News for in particular during his news conference Wednesday afternoon.
“The fact of the matter is, if you wanted to be aggressive like they were the other direction, you could have called as soon as the early vote mail ballots came in from Miami-Dade. There was no way Donald Trump was gonna lose with just that number. I understand being a little bit more cautious, let some votes come in, but by 9-9:30 p.m., this was in the bag and you had this drawn out, drawn out, drawn out and there was a resistance to just recognize reality,” DeSantis said.
DeSantis called out Fox News for delaying the call in Florida after the network prematurely declared Biden the winner of Arizona and later had to retract that call as the margin between the two candidates shrunk.
The governor questioned whether there was a motive behind the network’s waiting to call Florida.
“So for Fox to be so resistant to calling Florida and yet jumping the gun on Arizona, I just [think] that was inexplicable. I don’t think that was done without some type of motive -- whether it’s ratings, whether it’s something else,” DeSantis said.
With 86.9% of precincts reporting and 51% of the votes, the Associated Press has declared Biden the winner of Arizona but DeSantis said he believes the race between Trump and Biden in that state is still very much alive.
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