Three statewide races in Florida are headed to a recount and all depend on results from a county whose supervisor of elections has a history of losing ballots and breaking laws by allowing illegal immigrants and felons to vote, as well as illegally destroying ballots.
Broward County supervisor of elections Brenda Snipes’ office has admitted “they don’t know” how many ballots there are still to count.
Snipes’ latest failure to finalize Tuesday’s election returns days after the polls closed is also in violation of Florida law, which requires elections officials to “report all early voting and all tabulated vote-by-mail results to the Department of State within 30 minutes after the polls close. Thereafter, the canvassing board shall report, with the exception of provisional ballot results, updated precinct election results to the department at least every 45 minutes until all results are completely reported.”
This should alarm anyone hoping for fair and accurate election returns, as Snipes’ history in Broward is checkered with numerous examples of facilitating illegal voting practices.
In 2017, Dr. Snipes admitted in court that her office had allowed non-citizens and felons to vote and was particularly vulnerable ahead of major elections.
In 2012, a Broward elections official complained about Snipes tendency to “find” additional ballots in close elections. Ilene Lieberman, a Broward County Commissioner and Canvassing board member, told the Miami CBS affiliate in 2012, “When the canvassing board recessed on Saturday we were basically told there were between 150 and 165 ballots remained to be counted, that they had to double check, that they hadn’t been counted before. And when we came back on Monday the report showed 963 new ballots.”
Snipes also presided over a “phantom voting district” of 2000 voters who were using illegal addresses, many of them at a UPS Store, claimed as their places of residence.
Republican Party officials sued Snipes’ office in 2016 over the illegal counting of 180,000 mail in ballots, she admitted that she didn’t know the meaning of the word “canvassing.” Snipes’ office had been opening ballots illegally, without the legally required participation of other members of the canvasing board.
But Snipes hasn’t just been accused of malfeasance from Republicans.
A 2016 Democratic Congressional candidate, Tim Canova, challenged the results of his loss to Debbie Wasserman-Schultz in court, only to have Snipes’ office illegally destroy the ballots, preventing additional inspection.
Medical Marijuana backers NORML sued Snipes office in 2016 after the constitutional initiative to decriminalize marijuana was left off of some Broward County ballots. Lawyer John Morgan, who endorsed Andrew Gillum in this year’s Governor’s race, accused Snipes of doing it intentionally.
Morgain marveled, “Broward County was our best county last time. And I don’t believe in accidents.”
Snipes was originally appointed to her office by Republican Governor Jeb Bush in 2003, after her predecessor was removed from office for gross mismanagement. A former school administrator and principal, Snipes won election in 2004 and has been successfully been re-elected by Broward County voters every four years, most recently in a 2016 primary, where she received 76% of the 122,782 votes cast.
Even that electoral win was not without controversy, however, as Snipes office inadvertently released the results of the elections 30 minutes before polls officially closed.
According to Florida law, “Any supervisor of elections, deputy supervisor of elections, canvassing board member, election board member, or election employee who releases the results of any election prior to the closing of the polls in that county on election day commits a felony of the third degree.”
Despite the Florida Secretary of State asking the Broward County Sherriff and State Attorney for an investigation, like other election-related crimes in Broward County, however, that also went unpunished.