If you thought the drama over the Florida elections this cycle was over, think again. It was a fiasco this year. And the same problem children were the cause of it: Palm Beach County and Broward County. They also happen to be two of the most Democratic counties in the state. The ballot counting operation was secretive, dumping vote totals without giving regular updates on how many outstanding ballots remains as required by state law. Gov. Rick Scott, who won the U.S. Senate race, beating incumbent Democrat Bill Nelson, had to file a lawsuit over the matter, many lawsuits to be exact, and a judge found that Broward and Palm Beach counties ballot counting operations violated public records laws. They failed to get their machine recount done on time; a mandatory one was executed due to Scott leading Nelson by less than half of one percent. The hand recount was stopped when Nelson conceded. Ms. Snipes was the center of controversy again, and it’s not like this is the first time. The Miami Herald had a good piece prior to Election Day about this county and his horrible, no good, very bad elections supervisor who has a record of being total garbage at her job:
Broward County’s Elections Department will receive special attention from state officials this November after a series of glitches, mistakes, and one case of illegal ballot destruction has some voters wondering if they should even trust the results coming out of the elections department telling them to “vote with confidence” on Nov. 6.
Following a court ruling in May that Broward Elections Supervisor Brenda Snipes had illegally destroyed ballots from a 2016 congressional race, the governor’s office announced the Florida Department of State would send election experts to Snipes’ office during this year’s election “to ensure that all laws are followed” and “to observe the administration of the election.”
Even beyond her own reprimand for authorizing the destruction of ballots, Snipes cannot deny the department’s patchy track record. In 2016, early voting results for Broward were posted a half hour before polls closed, in violation of election law. Her office was sued unsuccessfully because a constitutional amendment was missing from some mail-in ballots. The electronic system used by the county was also later found to have been targeted by Russian government hackers — although it’s unclear whether that affected results and had nothing to do with the early posting.
On multiple occasions, there have been problems with printing mail ballots. And in the August primaries, Broward was the last county to post election results. The department cited reasons from unexpected recounts, delayed jump drive delivery — rumor was they were temporarily lost — to a late influx of mail-in ballots that were still being counted the next day, leaving the results of several races unclear.
“We have consistently been the bottom of the barrel getting our voting results in,” Broward County Commissioner Nan Rich said at a September meeting to discuss how to prevent future delays in posting results. “I don’t want to be 67th in 67 counties again in voting.”
Well, Ms. Snipes seemed to know it was time to go and submitted her resignation shortly after all the elections had been called in the state. January 4 was supposed to be her exit, but outgoing Gov. Rick Scott decided to hit her with a suspension. Now, she’s rescinded her resignation. It could be because the suspension could cost her the projected $71,000/year pension she was going to receive (via Sun-Sentinel):
Broward Supervisor of Elections Dr. Brenda Snipes announced Saturday she will fight her suspension by the governor, and rescinded her letter of resignation that preceded it.
Gov. Rick Scott suspended Snipes late Friday afternoon, citing “widespread issues with voting” in Broward County.
The governor Friday replaced Snipes with Republican Peter Antonacci, president and CEO of the state’s business-recruitment agency Enterprise Florida.
Antonacci has history with Broward elections: He prosecuted the 2004 Senate hearings against Broward’s prior elections supervisor, Miriam Oliphant. Oliphant was removed by Republican Gov. Jeb Bush, also for alleged incompetence. Antonacci represented the governor’s office.
After the November election, which brought unflattering national attention to her operation, Snipes submitted a letter of resignation that was to take effect Jan. 4, a date that likely would have kept the current governor from selecting her replacement. Scott was elected to the U.S. Senate and will be sworn in on Jan. 3.
Scott, in his announcement of the suspension Friday, said “taxpayers should no longer be burdened by paying a salary for a supervisor of elections who has already announced resignation.” He said Antonacci would “be solely focused on running free and fair elections, will not be running for election and will bring order and integrity back to this office.”
He suspended Snipes for misfeasance, incompetence and neglect of duty.
Snipes was set to receive $71,000 a year pension from her time in the elections office. The job itself paid $178,865 annually. But the suspension could cost Snipes that pension, Norris Weeks said. She said Snipes was unable to get answers to her questions about the pension but intends to fight for it.
By rescinding her resignation, she’s stating she intends to remain in office until her term ends in November 2020.
That’s the irony of this whole thing. Snipes replaced an election supervisor who was tossed…because of incompetence. But the point about the pension seems to be a driving cause. At the same time, Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) won the gubernatorial election, so does she think he won’t replace her, or something?