Donald Trump is under fire for his declaration on Veterans Day that the state of Florida should not count the ballots of active duty military members.
As both the governor and Senate races in Florida head toward a recount, Trump has grown increasingly vocal on Twitter with allegations that the ballot counting has been fraudulent in favor of the Democrats. On Monday, he declared that the state should stop recount efforts and simply go with the results of Election Night, when both Republicans held even larger leads. As Axios noted, doing so would mean not counting ballots from active duty military members. Said ballots are generally counted until November 16, as long as they were postmarked by Election Day.
The statement, made as the U.S. government observes Veterans Day before Trump had posted any message marking the holiday, drew considerable backlash. Ronald Klain, a former member of the Obama White House, noted on Twitter that Donald Trump’s plan to go only with the Election Night results would be a violation of federal law that mandates the ballots of active duty military members are counted.
There are plenty of reasons why this is wrong -- but let's start with this:— Ronald Klain (@RonaldKlain) November 12, 2018
There is a federal law that allows overseas voters -- SUCH AS OUR TROOPS -- to submit their ballots after election day.
So Trump's Veterans Day message to our troops? YOUR VOTE SHOULD NOT COUNT! https://t.co/517cYu0OQA
On Veterans Day, Trump is saying he doesn't want ballots from overseas military voters to count. They have until Nov 16 to be counted according to state law https://t.co/Ol1PjJGE38— Ari Berman (@AriBerman) November 12, 2018
Both races are key for Democrats, who are aiming to tamp down the Republican majority in the Senate — and also trying to take control of Florida state government ahead of the 2020 Census update and congressional district restructuring.
Donald Trump’s statement to stop counting ballots came after he drew widespread criticism for his decision to skip a memorial ceremony for fallen U.S. soldiers during his visit to France this weekend. Trump cited weather concerns for his decision not to attend the rainy event, the recommendation to cancel coming from the Marine Corps and the United States Secret Service according to CTV News, but many criticized him for failing to honor those killed on foreign soil during World War I.
“It’s incredible that a president would travel to France for this significant anniversary – and then remain in his hotel room watching TV rather than pay in person his respects to the Americans who gave their lives in France for the victory gained 100 years ago tomorrow,” David Frum of the Atlantic wrote on Twitter.
Trump is also being criticized for not visiting Arlington National Cemetery on Veterans Day, something which many of his predecessors had done.
Despite Donald Trump’s Twitter statement that Florida should stop its recount and go with the results from Election Night, the state has vowed to press on. The state had already responded to Republican allegations of election fraud by declaring that there were no signs of fraud. Both Republicans maintained slight leads in the gubernatorial and Senate races ahead of likely recounts.