We have been fighting the corruption in Broward County for 3 years, 2 elections, and 1 Elections Supervisor Brenda Snipes. It’s taken the chaos in the FL Senate and Governor’s races to wake up the masses. We will not silence our voices just because people criticize what media outlet I appear on or what horse they have in which race. I haven’t been invited to appear on MSNBC, CNN, NPR or most other outlets because I don’t fit their narrative. Election integrity is a non-partisan issue we’ve been fighting for. Our supporters have been working tirelessly while the media, both political parties and every level of law enforcement have been asleep on the issue. Thanks to all who have worked for and are now joining our fight for election integrity and against the corruption of Snipes and her partner in corruption Debbie Wassermann Schultz.
As an aside, many people are reaching out asking what they can do to help. For the past two years, we have been fighting against a corrupt and abusive government elections department that has unlimited resources. We gave it everything, went into debt, and beat Snipes in court, yet nothing happened. Help us wipe out that debt so we can fight on and expose the corruption in Broward elections by donating here.
By Nina Sparling | November 9, 2018 | Link to WhoWhatWhy story
Election integrity advocates will take Florida to court over ballot image preservation as soon as possible — the latest in a myriad of conflicts contributing to post-election chaos in the Sunshine State. A group of plaintiffs is about to sue Secretary of State Ken Detzner (R) over his office’s failure to enforce legal requirement to preserve the digital image files of ballots cast. These records are crucial with the possibility of a recount in both the US Senate and governor’s races.
Nearly two-thirds of Florida counties failed to save ballot images during this week’s midterm election, says John Brakey, founder of AUDIT-USA, an election integrity advocacy group. Rather than keep the image files to use in potential audits, officials program the machines to destroy them.
In Florida, 64 counties — the majority — use ES&S digital scanners that take pictures of paper ballots. But the ES&S machines offer three options: election supervisors can program the scanners to save all images, save images only of write-in ballots, or destroy all images.
Local election officials tabulate results from ballot images — not the actual paper ballots.
“In a sense they’re the source document,” Susan Pynchon, a plaintiff in the lawsuit and director of the Florida Fair Elections Coalition, told WhoWhatWhy. “That’s what was counted. How can you destroy it?”
Federal law requires that counties hang on to paper ballots and their digital images for 22 months after an election. In Florida, election-related public record preservation is authorized by statute — like the federal regulations, the rules carry the weight of law.
Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner
But in many counties, ballot image preservation hasn’t been happening.
Pynchon and Brakey attribute the inconsistency to inadequate leadership from the state: that’s why they pushed for a lawsuit. Brakey hopes the courts will clear the legal obligation for each county to preserve images in the event of a recount.
In the weeks before the election, the director of the Division of Elections, Maria Matthews, sent a series of emails to election supervisors statewide explaining the rules. She explained that where voting machines are programmed to capture images of ballots as they are scanned, “those images may be subject to retention requirements under the public records law.” She went on to advise supervisors of elections to consult city attorneys for specific details about retention and disclosure requirements.
Those emails were anything but satisfactory to Brakey and the AUDIT-USA team.
“They sent out bullshit instructions,” he said. “They told counties here’s the law — get with your city attorney and make a decision.” He expects the state will argue in court that it doesn’t have the authority to tell the counties what to do or how to administer their elections — despite clear federal law.
Pynchon sees a tactic to distribute — rather than accept — responsibility.
“By putting it back on each supervisor, it relieves the Division of Election,” she said. But given that federal law requires preservation, Brakey says, there isn’t much room for interpretation: counties that don’t save ballot images are breaking the law.
The lawsuit follows several weeks of work to engage election supervisors statewide about ballot image preservation. In response to the emails that Matthews sent, Brakey’s organization sent a letter of its own to all election supervisors in Florida. That letter explained the mandatory requirement to preserve ballot images.
Pynchon emailed all the election supervisors in Florida explaining the requirements: anything created in the course of an election must be preserved. She says the response was mixed: some supervisors were eager to come into compliance; others rejected the notion entirely. She has since filed public records requests for ballot images, records of votes cast and ballots logged, and any audit results.
But for votes already counted and ballot images destroyed, nothing can be done. As the possibility of recount looms large in Florida, though, ballot images could prove pivotal. The more documentation to cross-reference, the better.
“It shouldn’t end in a conspiracy theory,” Brakey said. “It should end in fact.”
Sun Sentinel Editorial Board | November 9, 2018 | Link to Sun Sentinel Editorial
Gov. Rick Scott went to court this week to allege that Broward County Supervisor of Elections Brenda Snipes is trying to steal a U.S. Senate seat from him.
President Donald Trump, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio and Republican National Committee chairwoman Ronna McDaniel all piled on, complaining that Snipes’ office manufactured votes in the middle of the night.
From our front-row seat to Snipes’ performance over the years, we find the allegations against her impossible to believe.
Snipes is not someone who would manufacture boxes of ballots to throw an election.
She’s long been willing to settle for coming in last in reporting elections results.
Yet, despite her record of poor performance, she keeps getting re-elected, perhaps because she prominently promotes her name and face at the polls.
Gov. Scott has every right to be concerned about Snipes. We all do.
It was alarming to see the number of Broward ballots cast steadily rise well after the polls closed Tuesday.
Mid-day Wednesday, for example, Snipes’ website said 708,974 ballots had been cast. Late Wednesday that number jumped to 716,209. And late Friday, it jumped to 717,187.
With his vote margin shrinking against U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, you can see why the governor might think Snipes is playing Santa Claus to a fellow Democrat.
However, people familiar with the supervisor’s website tell us there’s another explanation. They say her site mislabels “ballots counted” as “ballots cast.” It seems a plausible explanation, given how the number of ballots cast grew as ballots were counted. But given that this same phenomenon happened during the primary, why hasn’t it been fixed? Ballots cast should be a fixed number as votes are tabulated.
Even still, Gov. Scott went too far Thursday night when, without any evidence, he said he was “asking” the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to investigate Snipes for “rampant fraud.”
Scott oversees FDLE as governor and a couple years back, he engaged in some shenanigans to fire an FDLE chief who didn’t do his bidding. Now a candidate, Scott sets a dangerous precedent by interjecting police muscle into his race. (FDLE told the Sun Sentinel on Friday that it was not investigating.)
Scott could remove Snipes for misfeasance or malfeasance, as he was asked to do in June by Tim Canova, a law professor who successfully sued Snipes for having too quickly destroyed the paper ballots in his 2016 primary race against U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz.
But it’s too late for Scott to suspend Snipes. Any appointment he would now make would look blatantly partisan and lack credibility.
Now we need to hear from Snipes. We need answers to questions, including:
- Why did Snipes not know how many ballots were in her possession after the polls closed? Does she not record them as they are received? If so, she should have been able to say how many remained to be counted.
- What took so long to count ballots from Early Voting? We understand that Vote By Mail ballots take longer because signatures must be matched against the voter rolls. But Early Voting ballots are tabulated by machine. Why were they last to cross the finish line?
- Why were 65 other Florida supervisors able to complete their work in a timely way? Saying her office “was not as slow as last year” offers little consolation.
- Why were more votes cast for down-ballot candidates, such as agriculture commissioner and attorney general, than for the marquee U.S. Senate race? The Sun Sentinel found more than 24,700 Broward citizens voted in the governor’s race than in the Senate race. This oddball pattern didn’t show up anywhere else in the state.
- Why can Snipes still not produce a personalized sample ballot, rather than a generic one, to help voters see what they face before entering the polls?
While there is no evidence of fraud, there is a case to be made for an audit to assess Snipes’ ability and competence to manage a major election. These problems must be fixed before the 2020 presidential election.
In May, after her office destroyed the ballots sought by Canova, Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner met with Snipes in Fort Lauderdale. Later, he told Sun Sentinel reporter Anthony Man that he had confidence in “all the supervisors” in the state, saying “they know what they’re doing.”
But because of what she’d done, the governor said he would send state employees to monitor her work in this election. “The Secretary of State’s office will continue to ensure that every Supervisor of Elections understands and follows the law,” Scott’s statement said.
The monitors were on site this week, but they obviously didn’t make a difference.
In the 2016 election, we endorsed Snipes’s opponent in the Democratic primary, saying she was “too disconnected from the office’s operations, too unaware of its failings and too slow to make improvements.” The supervisor’s office, we said, “needs new energy.”
In June, after Canova’s lawsuit, we again questioned Snipes’s competence for this office. We urged her to announce that her current term would be her last.
In the absence of any evidence of fraud to justify Snipe’s immediate removal, we do so again.
Link to Sun Sentinel Editorial