Accuracy in Media

A lawyer representing Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) in the burgeoning Florida voting scandal objected in a public hearing to tossing out a provisional ballot from a noncitizen.

The Nelson campaign walked back the comment, but the mainstream media accounts of this and the accusations of fraud leveled against Democratic election officials revealed significant bias.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott, a Republican running to unseat Nelson, accused the senator of trying to “commit fraud to try to win this election.”

When pressed on the accusation, Scott pointed to the incident in which lawyers for both Nelson and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum attempted to keep a vote rejected because it came from an undocumented immigrant and to two lawsuits he had filed against election supervisors in Broward and Palm Beach counties concerning election irregularities.

Most of the mainstream media ignored the incident. The Washington Post mentioned it in “Trump calls for halting recounts in Florida races for governor and Senate” by Sean Sullivan, Beth Reinhard and John Wagner.

“He also mentioned an incident, being reported by conservative media outlets, in which a lawyer claiming to represent Nelson objected in a public hearing to tossing out a provisional ballot from a noncitizen.

“Marc Elias, Nelson’s lead recount attorney, said in a statement that the lawyer at a meeting of election officials in Palm Beach County was ‘not someone we had authorized to make such an objection. Non-citizens cannot vote in U.S. elections.’”

Vox’s story, “President Trump cites conspiracy theory to demand Florida stop recount with Republicans ahead” – subhead: “There is, in fact, no evidence of fraud” – begins with a misleading sentence.

“President Trump demanded on Monday morning that Florida halt its ongoing, legally required statewide recounts while the Republican candidates are still ahead, claiming, without evidence, that ‘many ballots are missing or forged’ and that the ballots are ‘massively infected.’”

Below, it reproduces Trump’s tweet, which reads: “The Florida Election should be called in favor of Rick Scott and Ron DeSantis in that large numbers of new ballots showed up out of nowhere, and many ballots are missing or forged. An honest vote count is no longer possible – ballots massively infected. Must go with Election Night!”

In “Bill Nelson’s campaign sues Florida secretary of state as vote fight continues,” CNN’s Dan Merica and Ryan Nobles made the case that not only was no chicanery going on in Florida, but that it is likely recounts will tip the balance in the Senate race.

“Democrats believe there are enough votes out to tip the Senate race towards Nelson, but are less confident in Gillum’s race, where the divide is around 37,000 votes in DeSantis’ favor,” CNN wrote.

Time attempted to beat back concerns over voter fraud by reminding readers we have seen the president involved in ballot controversies before and should not take his claims seriously.

“When he lost the Iowa caucus to Sen. Ted Cruz during the 2016 presidential primaries, Trump said Cruz, ‘illegally stole’ the victory, Time’s Abigail Adams wrote in “Florida’s Vote Counting Controversy Spells Trouble for 2020.”

“And in the fall of 2016 as polls showed Trump more likely to lose the general election to Hillary Clinton, he issued dire warnings that the election would be ‘rigged’ and suggested he might not concede to Clinton if he did not consider the results legitimate.”

It does not state that it was Democrats who ended up questioning the legitimacy of the election long after it was over or that most Americans, even a year after the election, did not believe Democrats had accepted the results.

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