Remember way back in November when your most insufferable Facebook friends were insisting there was zero difference between Trump and Clinton? Besides, they cynically insisted, Trump would never do all of that crazy stuff he kept promising! Who cares whom you vote for?
If there's any justice in the world, those same friends have watched in abject horror as Trump has thrown democratic norms out the window, threatened allies and enemies alike on Twitter, and generally sowed world chaos in his first two weeks as president. Now evidence suggests that people like them played a big role in putting Trump in the White House.
A new report from the Florida Division of Elections finds that more than 161,000 Florida voters went to the polls November 8, filled out a ballot, and then either avoided the presidential ticket or wrote in an invalid choice.
That's significantly more than the 113,000 votes that separated Trump from Clinton in the Sunshine State, handing him 29 key electoral votes on his march to an upset victory.
The new stats come as the state has tallied "undervotes" as part of a mandated postelection breakdown to study how well voting machines work. The state says that "overvotes," where someone punches too many choices for a single issue or race, are usually due to voting machine or ballot errors.
But undervotes are almost always due to a voter protesting their choices in the race. "Although an undervote may be due to a voting machine issue, most often it reflects a voter’s intent not to vote in a particular contest," the report notes.
This year's presidential race saw a huge uptick in undervotes, the state found — more than double the number from the 2012 race.
Why? Because lots of voters disliked both Trump and Clinton.
The state doesn't take the time to tally up write-in votes, so it's impossible to say exactly how many of those 161,000 were casting protest votes for Bernie Sanders. But the AP spoke to local election officials who had studied their counties write-in ballots and found "a number of write-ins for Sanders," along with the usual smattering of joke write-ins for Beyoncé, Tim Tebow, and the like.
(Robert Rodriguez, a Miami-Dade County Elections spokesperson, tells New Times the county doesn't count write-ins because of the sheer number of ballots cast in Dade.)
Casting a protest ballot, obviously, is any voter's prerogative. But those voters also have to own the practical results. Are they happy with how Trump's first two weeks in office have gone?
They'd better be, because they played a big role in handing him the keys to the free world.
Keep Miami New Times Free... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Miami with no paywalls.