tv Washington Journal Michael Morley CSPAN November 14, 2018 5:08pm-5:42pm EST
>> the mid-term election of 2018 changed the balance of power in congress. with democrats taking control of the house and republicans holding the majority in the senate. members now prepare for the new congress in january. new congress, new leaders, watch the process unfold on c-span. joining us from florida is michael morley. he teaches at florida state university. he teaches law. here to talk about the status of
recounts. professor, good morning. >> good morning. >> could you walk our viewers through where we're at as far as this recount is concerned on both the governor side and the senate side? >> sure. so florida has a two step recount process. concurrently we're in the middle of the first step which is known as the machine recounts. if the top two candidates in a race are within half a percent of each other based on all the votes cast in that race, a machine recounts is required by state law. this means for electronic voting machines, the supervisors of elections go back and double check the vote tallies from the electronic voting machines, we present those figures to the board of canvassers, and for the paper ballots, those are run through automated tallying machines again that automatic automatically count the votes
and based on those vults adding together the results from the electronic voting machines and the automated tally from the mechanical tabulation machines that determines the machine recounts. based on those results if the leading two candidates in a race are within a quarter of a percent of each other based on all of the votes cast in that race, that's when we proceed to the second stage of the recount, which is called the manual recount. and here any votes that were not counted during that initial process, that the automated tallying machine rejected them as either an undervote meaning the machine didn't think the voter was trying to cast a ballot for any of the candidate in that race or the machine rejected it as an overvote where the machine registered as the person trying to vote for two or more candidates, each of those rejected ballots then get manually inspected by teams of
election officials to determine whether or not even though they got rejected by the automated tallying machine, the intent of the voter is clear enough from the ballot it should be counted as a vote for one or the other candidate and so based on the manual recount all of those additional votes that got rejected by the automated tallying machines but that the individual inspectors determined applying very specific guidelines from the secretary of state, very specific regulations from the secretary of state that were promulgated in response to bush v gore then those extra votes would get added into the tally which is the certified, wo according to state law it would be certified to the secretary of state of by sunday. >> these are done with deadlines in mind. what happens if these counts can't take place before these deadlines. what's the legal resource for the teams involved?
>> so, under state law if the supervisors of election from a particular county doesn't provide updated results to the secretary of state's office by the statutory deadline in response to a recount then state law provides that the secretary of state's office uses the last results that were provided from that office. so that might be the results from the initial count, what are called the unofficial results. so state law provides an enforcement mechanism for the deadlines. several lawsuits have been filed challenging these deadlines, arguing that despite the state statutes they shouldn't be enforced. >> this is our guest, michael morley to talk about that recounts process in florida. if you want to ask him questions about the process and the nuances involved, 202-748-8000
for democrats. 202748-8 202-748-8001. and you can also tweet us at c-spanwj. many recognizes have criticized this process in florida, questioning about its validity and otherwise. as far as those criticisms that you have heard about this process, where do you stand on it? >> do you think there's some questions here? >> well, one of the main concerns is that especially when you're dealing with something as sacred as the right to vote you want the process to be conducted in as open and transparent manner as possible. election supervisors want, typically want representatives from candidates, representatives from the media to be able to o
ste -- observe steps of the process. there was concern earlier that representatives of the scott campaign had been excluded or not been given information about the ballot tallies and the number of ballots at the broward county supervisor's office and had been excluded from observing the ballot duplication process in the palm beach county office. so they went to state court and the court issued orders ensuring that they would be able to observe the process and get the public information that state law entitled them to. so it really comes down to ensuring a fair, open transparent process. >> the editors of the "new york times" this morning, when they talk about the process overall for all the free fact doom saying about rigged elections dro democracy did remarkably well last week. would you say that's the case in florida? >> this is the first time where we've had multiple statewide
recounts pending. i would suggest this is the first real test of the new florida election law, the new florida election regulations that were promulgated in response to bush v gore. certainly there have been more localized recounts in the past but any time you're putting the law to such an extreme test like this, you're going to see places where perhaps could it have been clearer, it could have been more specific. i have no doubt that in response to this legislators will learn, will see what went right, what went wrong and continue to amend the code in the future so that floridians are able to be assured of a fair and open election process. >> was part of that tied to the design of the ballot itself, in your opinion? >> so, that's one of the claims that was made that there were what are called undercounts or undervotes in the u.s. senate race where there were ballots in
which voters had not voted in the senate election, had cast votes in the gubernatorial election, for example. and so one of the arguments is, well perhaps because of the location of where the u.s. senate race was on the ballot they simply didn't see it. they simply didn't realize there was a senate race there and they inadvertently skipped over it straight to the governor's race. another possible interpretation is these were voters who were enthusiastic about the governor's race, wanted to vote in the governor's race and they were indifferent to the senate race. so certainly ballot design is something that will be looked at after 2000, of course there were criticisms of the butterfly ballot in florida. i have no doubt following this election the legislator will take a look at ballot design again to see if there are ways to make it easier to understand, to make it clearer, to decrease the likelihood -- to decrease
the likelihood of undervotes or people inadvertently missing out of races on the ballot. >> kenneth, you're on with our guest, michael morley of florida state university. go ahead. >> yes, good morning. i heard a news report last night that palm beach county had prevailed in seeking a judgment to allow them extra days to count, claiming that they couldn't get it done in time which i truly believe there probably wasn't enough time. however, the judge said that the recount could be extended for the governorship and the ag secretary but not the senate. the senate, of course, sounds like it's going to a manual recount, it's a much closer race. do you have any idea what the judge's thoughts were on that or why they would have left the senate off of that?
>> so, there are many lawsuits going on simultaneously throughout the state. in terms of the lawsuit that you're talking about, my understanding is that before the court actually entered that written order, the case was removed to federal court, meaning that a federal court currently has jurisdiction to decide whether or not the deadline should be extended, whether or not state law should be enforced, that the judge's written order in that case, because it came after the removal of the case to federal court may not actually be effective. may not actually be the current state of play. my understanding, based on reviewing that order, is that the judge felt that the samuel alito race could be -- that the recount in the senate race could be completed by the deadline and so because the recounts in palm beach county were proceeding,
because they were doing one recounts at a time, because the recounts were being done in the order in which these races appeared on the ballot the senate recounts was being done first, then going turn to the governor's race, then the agriculture commissioner's race, then a local state house race because they were being done in order it looks like the judge felt the evidence suggested the supervisor could complete the recount in time for the senate race. that the deadline extensions could be necessary in the court's view for the other races, for the subsequent races that would be recounted. we will undoubtedly find out in federal court if the federal court is going to go the same way, if the federal court will recognize that order that the state court entered. everything is in a dramatic state of flux. >> just to show you the headline from "miami herald," palm beach county machines overheating. tampa bay, florida, independent
line, and good morning. >> hi, good morning, pedro. hello, professor morley. how are you all today? i'm a little nervous. i spent some time yesterday calling around in tallahassee. i'm just a housewife. i want to see if you could answer a question for me about the florida elections commission and anything that you can tell me also about the commission -- you know, how it gets involved in that. and also the department state division of elections unravel that for me. did mr. gillum ever take your classes? he's a great debater. >> well, i just started at florida state this semester, so, no, i didn't have the opportunity to teach him. in response to your questions, the division of elections is a division within the florida
secretaries of state office that is responsible for helping to oversee the electoral process throughout the state. the secretary of state is the chief election officer for the state of florida. having said that, county supervisors of elections also have tremendous independent responsibility within their own counties and county canvassing boards are responsible for transmitting the results from those counties to the secretary of state's office. at the state level there is a statewide election commission that's comprised of the governor and two cabinet officers, and after the results are sent in from the county supervisors of elections to the secretary of state, state law provides on this upcoming tuesday that three person state election commission will meet to take those certified results and officially end the election unless a court order stays or extends that
deadline. so it's more of the -- i don't want to necessarily say a ceremonial function but by the time the state commission gets involved, the results have already been provided from the supervisor of elections office to the secretary of state and so they are giving it the final review and the final approval. >> michael morley from florida state university college of laugh joining us. professor, yesterday here in washington, d.c. that senator bill nelson appeared before cameras, talked about rick scott's role in this whole process and he made some claims about it. we'll let you listen to it and get your response. >> sadly it's become clear that my opponent isn't interested in making sure that every laugh vote is counted. instead, he's been using his power as governor to try to undermine the voting process.
he's thrown around words like voter fraud with no proof. he's tried to get the florida department of law enforcement to intimidate local supervisors of election. both the florida department of law enforcement, which governor scott oversees, and the governor scott appointed, florida secretary of state have both said that there is no credible evidence of voter fraud. it's become obvious that mr. scott cannot oversee the process in a fair and impartial way and he should remove himself from the recount process. >> professor morley, what do you think about those claims? >> so, there are a few issues to
unpack there. the first thing is, certainly as a litigant, as a candidate, both governor scott and senator nelson have the ability to go to court and take advantage of the opportunity to go to court where they feel they are able to seek judicial relief against potential concerns. going back to the governor's initial lawsuits, the main focus was really more about openness and transparency. even if there's no evidence of fraud, it's not just about fraud, it's about mistake. it's about misunderstandings. it's about inadvertent error. so making sure that observers are able to watch the process, making sure that information that is supposed to be publicly available is being disclosed in a timely manner. even putting aside questions of fraud is just good election administration, matter of good government. that makes sense.
there are situations across the country where candidates are involved in the electoral process, whether you have secretaries of state who are running for re-election, you have what governors who are running for re-election who have some indirect limited or final role in the electoral process. so that certainly is a bigger picture question that we can think about. the extent to which if someone is on the ballot, the extent to which they should be recused from certain aspects of the electoral process, but i really think the main focus for both side here should be on ensuring a fair and open transparent process where every legally cast vote is counted. >> here is phil from florida. >> hi. it seems like i get through about every four years or so. i don't know how these people do it twice a month.
and i'm going to say the same thing i say every four years. they should do away with the electoral college. it gives everybody a reason not to vote. and the only reason why so many people voted in these mid-terms here is because there's no electoral college to deal with. >> okay. let's go to joseph in florida. go ahead. >> good morning. first of all, i just would like to say that i'm 100% in agreement with that sound bite you recently played of senator nelson's statement, 100% in agreement with that. i hope more people could hear it. i would also like to make reference to a program that was on c-span on 10-29 of the communicators with kim zeter. an amazing program which highlighted so many of the problems that we have in our
electoral storm, and in particular i would like to ask a question about paper trails, which i think is a big problem. i would like to ask this gentleman if he knows if there are machines in florida that do not have paper trails, if there's anything being done about it, and i heard something on the news the other day that president trump had blocked, they said blocked some legislation which would have made it by law to make it necessary for all voting machines to have a paper trail. >> professor, go ahead. >> sure. i'm not familiar with any federal legislation being blocked, but with regard to paper trails on the voting machines, yeah, obviously for the paper ballots, the ballots themselves are the paper trail. for the electronic voting machines, during what we're going through now, during the machine recount, simply whatever
tallies are displayed on the voting machines themselves are accepted as the tally from those machines. when we go to the manual -- if we go to the manu all the recounts to the second stage recount then, for any ballots that the electronic voting machines said we're not counting these because these are undercounts, we're not counting these because it doesn't look like the voter actually voted for anyone in the course of this election, for the machines in which it is important, digital images of the screen shots behavioral, digital images of the ballots that the voters cast on those electronic machines, using the touch screens are generated, so they can be reviewed so that election officials doing this manual review of the overvotes and undervotes can confirm, yes, from these records it looks like the voter did not actually cast a vote in this election, there's not some bug or there's not some
defect in the machine that's causing it to ignore validly cast votes and so there's that process to go past the official tally from the machine to see the digital images that were generated when the voters actually cast their votes, and so that's, those would be examined if we got to a manual recount process for any of the races. >> professor we heard the name of broward county come up back in the election of 2000. we're hearing it again. we're hearing a lot about election supervisor brenda snipes. what's going on there? >> that was the source of several of the lawsuits that the scott campaign had filed. one of the sources of concern was that the supervisor's office, according to the campaign wasn't providing information about the number of ballots it had, the number of ballots it counted, the number of ballots that had yet to be
counted, and a state court found that that violated the sunshine law, that violated public records provision of the state constitution, it violated public records provision of state law, and so the state court ordered the supervisor to make that, to make that information publicly available. there had been some other concerns with electoral transparency, media access. any time you're dealing with this many votes, any time you're dealing with this many individual voters, this much paper work, there's always going some extent of confusion. there's always going to be some unexpected contingencies that occur. in my view the role of an election official is to try to deal with these problems in an open and transparent process in a way to bolster public confidence in the process. >> melbourne, florida, independent line. hello. >> hello, pedro.
yes. i'm a 71-year-old african-american male and in 2014 i had an issue with my sight, i lost use of my sight. in the 2016 election i voted by mail in ballot, and i heard after that of reports that many, many mailed in ballots were seen in trash dumpsters and whatnot here in florida. so in this election, in 2018, i got assistance and went to the polls to vote at the polls. i did early voting, and had the opportunity to go early. just wanted to say that, you know, my signature on my original voter registration card was different from the signature that i use now, and when i heard
they were comparing signatures i was very, very interested in making sure i went down to the ballot box and voted because i knew i had changed my signature for business reasons. >> okay. thanks, caller. professor, if you want to add to that? >> sure. that is one of the issues and one of the pending lawsuits that these signature match requirement where if a voter had to cast a provisional ballot or if a voter submited a vote by mail ballot, if the signature on the security envelope doesn't match the signature on file, the question is what should happen with those ballots? under state law if there's a signature mismatch voters have an opportunity to cure that mismatch, to go to the elections office to update their signature, provide a new signature, to provide evidence that yes, they are the person
who this ballot is supposed to be from, somebody didn't take the ballot from their mail box and purported to vote in their name. one of the concerns is that for people who submitted their ballots very, very close to the deadline, that they might not have had an opportunity to go in and yes those signature issues and so that's going one of the things that the court is looking at today, actually, the federal court in tallahassee is holding a hearing on that signature match issue. >> professor, for all of those people actually involved in these recounts, the physical recounting, are these state employees and state local employees. >> are they brought in to help to assist with this process? >> yes. they are brought in -- they are brought in to help assist the process. each team is supposed to be and particularly when we get to the point of a manual recount to the extent possible each team is supposed to be compromised of two or more people who are not
from the same political party. you're building bipartisanship into the prose. you're building transparency. supervisors have to recruit people in order to be able to conduct the process. >> from florida, independent line, maria. hello. >> good morning. this is namaria. as a new voter here in broward i'm quite dismayed at what we're seeing of the incompetency but more importantly, professor, i'm very interested in understanding all the incident reports that have been filed in broward county and why we're not hearing about them. some of the incident reports actually say the poll workers at the check in machine after scanning the voter's i.d. asked the voter to go around and look at the monitor to choose which one of the addresses and names the voter wanted to vote on. these are sworn affidavits, and
the allegations go on the poll workers were telling voters how to vote, cameras and cell phones were allowed to be used. and literature was handed out by the poll worker. which i find shocking. can you help me understand the legality of this and what should happen to employees of the supervisor of elections office? >> so, that raises a wide variety of issues implicating different laws. to the extent that there are concerns about the legality of certain ballots, to the extent there are concerns that improper votes were cast, florida law provides a mechanism called an election contest where if there's evidence that enough of these, enough of invalid votes were cast to potentially affect the outcome an election contest could be held for other
allegations that don't necessarily rise to the level of invalidating a ballot that simply deal with electoral official misconduct. one of the hopes, one of the goals is that through poll watchers, through other campaign volunteers, that this information can be transmitted to the supervisor's office in a timely manner on election day itself or during early voting itself so it can be corrected, so it can be stopped rather than waiting until after the fact and then trying to go back and reconstruct what happened or trying to make credibility determinations among conflicting accounts. again, with any process as widespread as election day you're dealing with millions of people coming together to cast ballots simultaneously. there are always going to be concerns that are raised. there are always going to be instance where people either misunderstand the law, potentially even might step across a line or two.
after the fact, short of an election contest, there's little to be done. much of that is more of a matter of internal discipline, internal supervision within the supervisor's office. >> one more call. davis from jacksonville, florida. >> hi, good morning. >> you're on. go ahead. >> yes. thank you. broward and west palm are considered blue counties. what about the red counties. is anybody overseeing those? i know in duvall there's been issues with machines here when you're doing the recount. and also isn't there a state law that military votes that are overse overseas, the 16th is the due date for those votes. thank you. >> you're absolutely right.
there's a federal statue which subsequently amended by the move act the military and overseas voting enforcement act, i want to say, military and overseas voters have an opportunity, they are guaranteed under federal law the right to vote by absentee ballot. those absentee ballots have to be sent out had a days before election day so that if you're serving in a forward operating base or a remote location that you have enough time to get your ballot, cast your ballot, have the ballot be scents back and then florida law provides that as long as the ballot is post marked by election day it can actually be received by the supervisor's of elections office for up to ten days after election day and it will still count as valid. so for military and overseas voters, you're absolutely right. as long as they cast their
ballots, as long as they attempted to return, they post mark their ballots by election day itself, any ballots received in that day period which ends on the 16th will be accepted as valid, will be included in official vote tallies. >> professor michael morley of florida state university. he's here to talk about the governor and senate races that are going on in florida. professor, thank you so much for your time this morning. >> thank you for having me. c-span's washington journal, live every day with news and policy issues that impact you. coming up thursday morning retiring pennsylvania congressman ryan costello joins us to discuss the future of the republican party. then virgin islands delegate of the house oversight and government reform committee on
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