Republicans are having a freak-out moment as the potential for ballot recounts in Florida threaten Gov. Rick Scott’s lead in Tuesday’s midterm election for a U.S. Senate seat. On election night, it appeared as if Scott had defeated incumbent Democrat Sen. Bill Nelson, but as absentee and provisional ballots are counted, the shrinking margin appears destined to trigger a mandatory recount. Now, shady right-wing operatives are joining the GOP’s self-described “dirty trickster” Roger Stone in an apparent effort to recreate chaos seen during the 2000 presidential election recount in Florida.
The Senate race between Nelson and Scott is still too close to call, and may lead to a recount. Last night, Scott accused officials in Broward and Palm Beach counties of interfering with the election and announced he would sue the former. Votes are still being counted in Broward County; via Twitter, Sen. Marco Rubio has accused “democrat lawyers” (sic) of trying to “change the results of [the] election.”
Now democrat lawyers are descending on #Florida. They have been very clear they aren’t here to make sure every vote is counted.
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) November 8, 2018
President Trump also chimed in with accusations of “Election Fraud.”
Law Enforcement is looking into another big corruption scandal having to do with Election Fraud in #Broward and Palm Beach. Florida voted for Rick Scott!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 9, 2018
In a Periscope video posted last night, Jack Posobiec, a pro-Trump pundit at One America News who notoriously conducted an in-person “investigation” into the Pizzagate conspiracy theory, detailed aspects of a plan to storm the Broward County vote-counting site.
“Roger Stone is on the ground. He’s in Broward County, right next to Palm Beach county. We have assets that are going to be deployed. They’re on their way right now to Broward County,” Posobiec said. “Folks, they are trying to steal the elections.”
On Instagram, Stone posted a photo of a tweet by Posobiec with the caption, “Florida Recount? Did some one say “ Get Me Roger Stone ? (sic).”
Eighteen years ago, Stone led a protest that would come to be known as the “Brooks Brothers Riot” during a statewide recount of Florida’s vote in the 2000 presidential election. The protest grew so rowdy that ballot-counting was ceased in Miami-Dade County.
Posobiec, one of many Stone protégés, piled on, encouraging his followers nearly 400,000 followers to go to the Broward County Board of Elections with picket signs, telling them, “That needs to be happening day and night.”
Anti-Muslim conspiracy theorist Laura Loomer posted that she would also be traveling to Florida. This morning, she announced plans for a protest. Those plans were amplified by other right-wing figures like Infowars’ Millie Weaver.
— Laura Loomer (@LauraLoomer) November 9, 2018
Joining Loomer is another Stone mentee, Jacob Engels, a contributor for Infowars and the Stone-affiliated website “Central Florida Post”—which has accepted campaign funds to create media for state campaigns, as Mother Jones found in the cases of Florida Republican candidates Scott Sturgill and Brad Sostack—said he would be heading to “handle this situation.” Engel is also connected to the Proud Boys hate group, which Stone has hired for security at events, and appears to have a very close relationship with Stone. The two posed together with their tattoos, and Engles frequently shares on social media art depicting Stone.
Floridians do not despair. I am en route back down to South Florida to handle this situation in Broward. I refuse to let SNEAKY AND CORRUPT BRENDA SNIPES steal this election. @LauraLoomer and I will STOP THE STEAL! She is flying to FL today! #FloridaRecount
— Jacob Engels (@JacobEngels) November 9, 2018
Ali Akbar (also known as Ali Alexander), a pro-Trump political activist funded by the Mercer family, said he would be recruiting homeless people and believers of the apocryphal “QAnon” conspiracy theory to build out his protests.
“I want 100 to 200 people at the Broward County election offices every day, 24/7 a day. I’m going to move the homeless people in all the adjacent counties, we’re going to get Republicans out there, we’re going to get Democrats who care about free elections, we’re going to get MAGA people, we will get [QAnon] people, we’re going to get everyone out there to make sure that these bureaucrats know that we are watching them,” Akbar said in a Periscope video.
He added, “Be ready. If you live anywhere within 2 to 3 hours of Broward County, be ready.”
Joe Biggs, a former editor at Infowars, said he would be flying back to Florida because he will not “let radical leftists destroy our home.”
I’m no new Floridan. I’ve spent most of my life there and in Texas. I love both places more than life itself. Which is why I will be helping #StopTheSteal. I will back home to Florida from my other home in Texas tomorrow. We will not let radical leftists destroy our home!
— Joe Biggs (@Rambobiggs) November 9, 2018