Friday, November 9, 2018

Broward County election official overseeing vote count has troubled history

The Florida election official who is in charge of counting critical votes in Broward County has a long history of election mismanagement.

Broward County Board of Elections Supervisor Brenda Snipes is overseeing the slow-going count of votes in the closely contested Senate and governor’s races, which are likely headed for a machine recount.

A judge previously ruled that she violated election law when she scrapped ballots too quickly in 2016, and she has also been criticized in the past for allegedly keeping deceased voters and felons on the voter rolls.

Delayed final tally

The count in the liberal county is taking ages, and Republicans fret that the Democrats are pulling a nasty trick to steal the closely contested seats. Snipes still has not said how many votes are left to be counted. She became defensive and dodged questions when confronted by reporters Thursday about the unusually slow process.

“We ran 22 sites, we ran 14 days, we ran 12 hours, we had a big vote by mail (during early voting), so don’t try to turn it around to make it seem like I’m making comedy out of this,” Snipes said.

Snipes once destroyed ballots

This isn’t the first time that Snipes, who has been in charge of elections in the county since 2003, has come under scrutiny. In May, a judge ruled that she violated state and federal law by destroying ballots that were being sought in a law-suit too soon after a tight August 2016 primary race between Debbie Wasserman-Schultz and Tim Canova.

In the same race, Snipes was also criticized for posting results 30 minutes before the polls closed, another violation of election law. Snipes blamed a software glitch.

Snipes was also accused by the American Civil Rights Union of enabling voter fraud by failing to purge felons and dead voters from the voter rolls, but a judge eventually ruled in her favor.

This August, a judge ruled that Snipes must stop opening mail-in absentee ballots in secret to determine the ballots’ validity after Republicans complained about a lack of transparency.

Rubio, Trump weigh in

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) weighed in, warning that Snipes’ mismanagement left the state’s elections vulnerable to fraud. In a Twitter thread, Rubio also re-counted the Broward’s history of election mismanagement and pointed out irregularities in Snipes’ handling of the recount, noting that she still won’t say how many votes are left and is not reporting results in a regular fashion.

“Broward election supervisors ongoing violation of Florida law requiring timely reporting isn’t just annoying incompetence,” Rubio tweeted. “It has opened the door for lawyers to come here & try to steal a seat in the U.S. Senate & Florida Cabinet.”

“[Snipes] Isn’t reporting hourly or regularly,but rather releasing thousands of additional votes,often in the overnight hours,that are chipping away at GOP leads,” he continued.

President Donald Trump also called attention to the Florida situation on Thursday, tweeting, “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!”

Republican Senate candidate Rick Scott, whose lead over incumbent Bill Nelson has whittled away since Tuesday night, sued Snipes and Palm Beach Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher on Thursday, claiming at a press conference in front of the governor’s mansion in Tallahassee that “unethical liberals” are trying to “steal the election.” President Trump echoed those concerns on Friday, attacking Snipes and Broward County for their suspicious handling of the count.

“They have had a horrible history, and if you look at the person, in this case a woman involved, she has had a horrible history.” Trump said. “And all of the sudden they’re finding votes out of nowhere.”

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