The Florida Senate race is rapidly spiraling out of control. Republican Gov. Rick Scott has declared victory over incumbent Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson, but vote count irregularities have chipped away at Scott’s lead. He was leading by a little over 34,500 votes, but these late night dumps in Broward County have raised eyebrows. First, they don’t know how many outstanding ballots are left, they’re not keeping regular updates on their counting processes, and provisional ballots were left at a polling location, no chain of custody, for Lord knows how long. It’s a mess. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) has gone on lengthy Twitter threads detailing the incompetence over what’s happening with the vote counts, some of which are in violation of state law.
Long but IMPORTANT THREAT ON ELECTIONS IN #FLORIDA.#BayCounty was hit by a Cat 4 Hurricane just 4 weeks ago,yet managed to count votes & submit timely results.— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) November 8, 2018
Yet over 41 hours after polls closed #Broward elections office is still counting votes? #Sayfie
Scott and the National Republican Senatorial Committee slapped Broward with a lawsuit last night. As his lead enters recount territory, there is a real concern that Democratic antics are being executed to steal this election. Palm Beach County is another sketchy Democratic county that’s not being transparent in how it’s counting its votes. To put things into perspective, the counties that were ravaged by a category four hurricane, Michael, have all counted their votes on time. And as many of you already know Broward is ground zero for these sorts of games, especially with its elections supervisor, Brenda Snipes, who appears to be an absolute catastrophe at her job.
Every vote legally cast should be counted. That’s the law— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) November 9, 2018
Have no problem with recounts. That’s the law.
But last early votes were cast Sunday & had to be submitted by Tue evening. That the law too.
Yet 48 hours after deadline #BrowardCounty is only county still counting them
Apparently #BrowardCounty elections left behind a box labeled “Provisional Ballots” at a local elementary school that served as a polling place.— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) November 8, 2018
Just let that sink in for a moment. https://t.co/o1Gn7mxOzG
According to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, these two blue bins,circled in the attached picture,hold the ballots that remain to be counted in #BrowardCounty as of 4:20pm this afternoon. Almost 48 hours after the polls closed. pic.twitter.com/EJxJYxq9XG— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) November 8, 2018
#Florida law requires counties report early voting & vote-by-mail within 30 minutes after polls close. 43 hours after polls closed 2 Democrat strongholds #BrowardCounty & #PalmBeachCounty are still counting & refusing to disclose how many ballots they have left to count. #Sayfie pic.twitter.com/ReXCaOzkZP— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) November 8, 2018
Snipes has illegally destroyed ballots in the Democratic primary for Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s congressional race in 2016. This county has a rather long and sordid history of incompetence and possible illegality with regards to elections, and it’s the biggest Democratic county in the state (via Sun Sentinel):
The Broward County Supervisor of Elections Office violated state and federal laws by destroying ballots from a 2016 Congressional race too soon — and while the ballots were the subject of a lawsuit against the office, a judge has ruled.
Based on that ruling, Florida’s Department of State will send election experts to the Broward elections office in the upcoming election “to ensure that all laws are followed,” the governor’s office said. It could also cost the elections office more than $200,000 to pay attorney’s fees for Tim Canova, the defeated candidate who sued the office.
The decision stems from Canova’s bid to unseat Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz in the Democratic primary, a race he lost convincingly, at about 57 percent to 43 percent, or 28,809 votes to 21,907.
Canova, who was checking for voting irregularities in the race, sought to look at the paper ballots in March 2017 and took Elections Supervisor Brenda Snipes to court three months later when her office hadn’t fulfilled his request. Snipes approved the destruction of the ballots in September, signing a certification that said no court cases involving the ballots were pending.
Broward County had some issues with absentee ballots, like them not ever being sent to voters (via Miami Herald):
Former students of Trish Everett’s senior-level Government and Politics class at Pine Crest School in Broward say their teacher taught them the importance of civic engagement. They were excited to vote. For many, this midterm election would have been their first time exercising their democratic rights. But there were problems: Their absentee ballots never arrived, or came so late they wouldn’t be able to send them back in time.
“I first applied for an absentee ballot about two months ago,” said Gabrielle Meli, a freshman at Cornell University, who said the Broward Elections Department repeatedly denied she had applied for the ballot. (Meli said she received three emails confirming her application.)
After following up with the department several times in October, Meli reached out to her former teacher who tried to help her get a ballot, she said. Others in her class at the private preparatory school had done the same, and the former classmates realized their experiences may be part of a larger problem.
“So many of my peers from high school never received their ballots and they had very similar issues to me,” Meli said. “Many of them had their parents go and physically pick up the ballot and mail it to them because the office of elections was simply not doing its job.”
In 2014, when Scott was running for a second term as governor, folks had trouble casting ballots (via Miami Herald):
Broward did indeed experience a handful of issues that the supervisor of election described as minor. Before noon, Sun Sentinel editorial page editor Rosemary Goudreau posted a column on the newspaper’s website saying poll workers told her she’d already voted when she swiped her driver’s license.
She said ultimately she was allowed to cast a standard ballot after it was confirmed she had not voted.
“But on leaving my precinct at Fort Lauderdale’s Virginia Shuman Young Elementary School on Tuesday morning, I wondered whether my vote will count,” Goudreau wrote, adding that at least one other voter experienced the same issue.
In Pompano Beach, Mark Merrill experienced the same problem, according to his wife, Robin Haines Merrill. She told The Herald that poll workers told her husband he’d already voted. But, having already read Goudreau’s column, they argued against filling out a provisional ballot.
She said her husband, who has no party affiliation, was able to vote, but the issue ruined a family trip to the polls with their son, who at 18 was voting for the first time.
“I just think it’s a freaking mess,” she said.
Broward also posted election results a half hour before polls closed, had left amendments off the ballot in previous years, and sent mail-in ballots with duplicate pages (via Miami Herald):
It was Oct. 2, the day 200,000 mail ballots were sent out to voters. “There is a lot of preparation that goes into the process, but we see a lot of people who vote that way,” Snipes said. Voting by mail is very popular because “it is so convenient,” said Snipes, who expects to get about half of those ballots back.
Machines whirred, separating ballots by ZIP codes, checking bar codes and stuffing envelopes. Three 18-wheelers waited in bays as workers rolled cart after cart of postage-ready ballots into the open truck bed. Florida Highway Patrol officers waited to escort the caravan of trucks to the Opa-locka post office, where they would be mailed.
“The system does not let people get the wrong ballots,” said Mary Hall, voter services director. “There is no error. It’s error free.”
Weeks later, the Sun-Sentinel reported that a Broward resident received a ballot with duplicate pages, though the department said at the time it was unaware of the problem. Two years earlier, Snipes was sued because the medical marijuana question was left off some ballots. The lawsuit, brought by a group pushing the constitutional amendment, was unsuccessful.
Then, there are the election night flukes: unexpected and embarrassing errors like when the early voting numbers went online 30 minutes before polls closed in the 2016 August primary, contrary to Florida election law.
Although Broward Elections and Snipes personally took a lot of heat for that error, it wasn’t their fault. The results were posted accidentally by a young employee of VR Systems, the outside company Broward contracts with to tally election results, according to an affidavit produced by the company after the incident.
Some of these are clear violations of state law, while others are just negligence. The marijuana ballot fiasco is, as you can see, one of many problems going on in the county and the state. Ballot stuffing has also been alleged. In Broward, 103 percent of its voter population was said to be registered in 2014 (via Heritage):
...There are organizations committed to advancing election integrity. The Public Interest Legal Foundation is presently litigating in court against Broward County, Florida for failing to adequately maintain its voter rolls as required by law.
According to the Foundation, the county had 103 percent of its eligible voter population registered in the 2014 election, and the county’s records indicate that thousands of voters are over the age of 100, with one as old as 130.
Clearly, Broward County’s rolls could stand some maintenance, and it is hard to see how anyone would be against an effort to clean them up and ensure they are accurate. After all, inaccuracies in voter registration records create vulnerabilities that can be exploited.
Brenda Snipes, the Broward County supervisor of elections, evidently disagrees.
The Public Interest Legal Foundation lawsuit was prompted by Snipes’ response to a request for information, filed pursuant to the National Voter Registration Act, seeking her methods of ensuring the accuracy of voter records.
Snipes asserted that, despite all the evidence to the contrary, it was “implausible” that ineligible voters are registered.
Finally, Snipes was dragged into court by the Florida GOP for the way she was counting mail-in ballots, which she was doing in secret (via Politico):
A judge has ordered the election supervisor in Florida’s second-most populous county to change the way she handles vote-by-mail absentee ballots after the Republican Party sued her for not following the law.
The declaratory injunction, ordered Friday, prevents Broward County Election Supervisor Brenda Snipes from opening the mail-in ballots in secret or before the county’s three-member Canvassing Board meets to determine the ballots’ validity. The board can begin meeting Monday to handle absentee ballots, more than 75,000 of which have been cast in Broward ahead of the Aug. 28 primaries.
We appreciate the court’s order clarifying what Florida law plainly requires — that Supervisor Snipes and her staff must safely keep and may not open any vote-by-mail ballot until the Broward County Canvassing Board canvasses the vote,” said Yohana de la Torre, spokeswoman for the Republican Party of Florida. “The Court’s ruling helps to protect the integrity of this year’s election process not just for Republicans but all voters in Broward County.”
Snipes and her attorney, Burnadette Norris-Weeks, could not be reached for comment.
The real question is how does this lady still have her job? With Scott heading for a recount and Broward/Palm Beach counties still a mess, expect more nonsense to pop up. Democratic lawyers are pouring into the state. Lawfare is about to begin.