ORLANDO, Fla., — Lake County Republicans are the latest GOP group to echo former President Donald Trump’s false claims of election fraud by demanding a statewide forensic audit of Florida, a state Trump won by almost 372,000 votes.
In a letter and two resolutions unanimously approved last week and sent to Florida GOP leaders, the Lake County Republican Executive Committee claimed “a majority of citizens doubt that the November 3, 2020, election was conducted openly and fairly” and “doubt the number of legal votes cast for each candidate equals the reported and certified results, in Lake County, the State of Florida, and the United States.”
The Lake County GOP said it “demands” that the Legislature conduct an “immediate, open, transparent and independent full forensic audit, including a hand recount” of Lake County and the entire state, “at least as thorough as the audit being conducted in Maricopa County, Arizona.”
Trump received almost 60% of the vote in Lake County over President Joe Biden in 2020, and won Florida by 51% to 48%.
Despite DeSantis’ praise for how the state conducted the election, he later called for and signed a controversial election law that significantly reduced drop boxes and added new restrictions for mail-in ballots and canvassing.
Asked about the call for the audit, Helen Aguirre Ferre, Republican Party of Florida executive director, didn’t say whether or not the state party supported it.
“Election integrity has been of the utmost importance to Gov. DeSantis from the get-go, which he clearly demonstrated by replacing the Supervisors of Election in Broward and Palm Beach counties,” she wrote. “Gov. DeSantis strives for excellence and he is working vigorously with the legislature to further strengthen election integrity.”
Party chairman Joe Gruters and spokespersons for Republican House Speaker Chris Sprowls and GOP Senate President Wilton Simpson did not return requests for comment.
The Maricopa audit, authorized by the GOP-controlled Arizona Senate based on Trump’s false allegations of fraud in Biden’s 2020 win in the state, ultimately concluded that Biden actually got more votes than originally reported. The company that conducted the audit, Florida-based Cyber Ninjas, was later criticized by elections experts, including a data analyst for the Arizona GOP, as having “made up the numbers” in a faulty process.
Despite the controversy, similar audits are being sought in other states Biden won, including Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Trump also has called for an audit in Texas, a state he won by more than 600,000 votes.
The audits have been spurred in part by MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell’s repeated calls for election result reviews in every single state.
Lindell was sued earlier this year by the election machine manufacturer Dominion for $1.3 billion for defamation and was recently rejected by the secretary of state of Idaho in his call for an audit there.
Lake County Republican Chair Walter Price said his committee’s demands were based partially on Lindell’s claims.
“Some of that information in that research originated from some of that research that Mike Lindell was doing,” Price said Tuesday. “So that’s part of the reason. There’s a lot of statistical anomalies that just jump out.”
Price would not say if he believed the election was fraudulent or whether Biden’s election was legitimate.
“I don’t think that Florida had a problem, per se, or anything that was widespread,” Price said. “But there are other swing states where they had a lot of controversies. That’s where we think that stuff might have happened that shouldn’t have happened.”
Lake County Elections Supervisor Alan Hays had no comment on the county GOP’s demands.
In response to Rep. Anthony Sabatini’s call for a statewide audit in July, Secretary of State Laurel Lee, a Republican, defended the state’s election procedures.
“Florida’s election in 2020 was accurate, transparent, and conducted in compliance with Florida law,” Lee said. “Florida has already conducted both pre- and post-elections audits, and we are confident in the security and integrity of our 2020 election results. … The post-election audit confirmed that Florida’s 2020 election was secure and accurate.”
The Lake County GOP gained notoriety in January when its treasurer, Tom Vail, sent a newsletter email to fellow members of the Lake County Tea Party that defended Trump’s actions in inciting the U.S. Capitol riot and claimed, “We are at war,” and called for “SECESSION!”
(Orlando Sentinel staff writer Gray Rohrer contributed to this report.)