Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida said at a Tuesday night candidates debate with Democrat Rep. Val Demings that he, unlike Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, would accept his election’s result.
Rubio also called out Demings for her efforts to weaken Florida’s voting laws through federal legislation.
Rick Christie, executive editor of The Palm Beach Post, citing a Washington Post story about “election deniers” of the 2020 presidential election running for office in 48 states asked the candidates, “Will you accept the results of the 2022 election?”
“I’ll tell you this much, I’ve never denied an election, ever…I’m not like Stacey Abrams in Georgia who denied her election,” Rubio said.
The Republican Party recently released a list and supporting video showing 35 times Abrams claimed she won the 2018 governor’s race or now Gov. Brian Kemp’s win was not legitimate.
“I think in Florida we have great election laws,” Rubio said, “but I think elections have to have rules and Congresswoman Demings supported this effort to have a federal takeover of elections.”
“What would that look like? You can’t ask for ID. You have to ask for ID to get into her neighborhood where she lives, and you have every right to have that. But you can’t ask for it when they vote,” Rubio said.
“These are rules that allow people to have confidence their vote counted and their vote mattered. They’re not suppressing anyone’s vote,” he said.
Demings contended that voting can not be left up to state law. She called on the Senate to pass the Democrats’ John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act and the Freedom to Vote Act.
“I’m not the person standing on the stage that supports suppressing the right to vote,” she said.
“We need a federal law to keep everybody accountable,” Demings added.
Rubio countered, “It’s never been easier to vote,” Rudio said.
He noted there was a record turnout in the primary elections in Georgia, and Florida has similar rules including early voting and no excuse for mail-in voting.
Rubio argued that requiring someone to show an ID to vote is not a revival of the Jim Crow south, which was typified by poll taxes, literacy tests and using terror tactics to keep people from the polls.
“Everyone has an ID,” he said. “You can’t even check into a hotel. You can’t buy Sudafed at Walgreens without an ID.”
Rubio added that the Democrat legislation would force ballot harvesting in every state, allowing people to show up with a “trunk full” of ballots to cast.
Demings pointed to the fewer number of drop boxes permitted in Florida than used in 2020 as an example of voter suppression.
“Why do that, particularly in certain areas?” she asked. “We need to hold states accountable to make sure every person, although that scares the senator to death, has the right, the precious right to vote.”
Rubio responded, “I’ve never supported any suppression.”
“How come all the sudden a drop box is the standard by which we judge whether people are able to vote or not?” he asked.
He noted there were no drop boxes 10 years ago when former President Barack Obama won re-election in the state of Florida, nor in 2016 when Demings was first elected to Congress.
“I do not want a federal takeover of our election system,” Rubio concluded.
Top election experts Hans von Spakovsky, a former member of the Federal Election Commission, and John Fund said last year that H.R. 1, the “For the People Act,” which Demings voted for and is the precursor to the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, would require same-day voter registration and automatic voter registration in all states, and allow ballot harvesting.
Automatic voter registration would mean large portions of the estimated millions of illegal immigrants living in the U.S. would be registered to vote if they have any interaction with a government agency, such as obtaining a driver’s license or attending a state university.
H.R. 1 also prevents illegal aliens from being civilly or criminally prosecuted for being registered to vote, von Spakovsky said, which he argued means Democrats fully expect that to happen.
“This [bill] is not something that will inspire confidence in our elections. It will breed cynicism, mistrust and despair,” Fund said.