According to POLITICO, Wasserman Schultz’s possible role in the scandal was suggested when the lawyer for the Broward County Supervisor of Elections offered to supply the court with a sworn affidavit from Wasserman Schultz opposing the lawsuit we brought to inspect the ballots. Incredibly, the Supervisor’s offer was made more than two months after the Supervisor had already destroyed the ballots — during which time the Supervisor continued to conceal the ballot destruction from both us and the court.
In destroying the ballots, the Supervisor violated federal and state law, destroyed evidence in an ongoing lawsuit, and concealed all this wrongdoing for months. With the original ballots destroyed, a criminal investigation may be the only way to get to the truth about this election. We contacted the Federal Bureau of Investigation to report these federal crimes, but the FBI has yet to return our calls, even after the Supervisor admitted to her illegal conduct in a videotaped deposition!
Should we believe Wasserman Schultz’s denials of any role in the decision to destroy the ballots? Sadly, there’s no reason to believe her. Let’s not forget that Wasserman Schultz was forced to resign in disgrace as head of the Democratic National Committee for violating the DNC’s own rules for fairness and impartiality in the presidential nomination process — violations that she continually lied about!
To remain silent about all the election frauds that happened in the 2016 primaries only serves to normalize election frauds on an ongoing basis. That’s why we’re demanding a federal criminal investigation of the illegal destruction of our ballots and the immediate suspension of the Broward Supervisor of Elections.
Thank you for all your help and for supporting our efforts for election integrity.
In early April, I announced I was running as a No Party Affiliation (NPA) candidate — an independent — on the ballot this November against Debbie Wasserman Schultz and a yet-to-be-determined Republican candidate.
Almost immediately, the Schultz team started a whispering campaign that I was now a “spoiler” — that by running “third-party” (which I’m not), I would help elect the Republican. They whisper it will be just like when Ralph Nader supposedly helped elect George W. Bush over Al Gore in 2000.
This “spoiler” attack is revealing. First, there’s no chance of a Republican winning in a three-way race in this particular district which was specially gerrymandered for Schultz. And second, it shows how worried the Schultz camp is that they can’t possibly win in a three-way race at a time when NPAs almost outnumber Democrats in our district.
Florida’s 23rd Congressional District was gerrymandered for Schultz and it’s been a safe Democratic seat — that is, up until now. But the population has been changing here, as reflected in the demographics of registered voters in the district: 25% Republican, 35% indie, and 40% Democrat.
In 2000, when Bush beat Gore, there was about a one percentage point difference between Democrats and Republicans. In Florida’s 23rd, Republicans are 15 percentage points behind Democrats and 10 percentage points behind NPAs. It’s hard to imagine a Republican taking second in a three-way race in this district, let alone ever winning.
That means Democrats can feel free to vote their conscience, vote for change, and vote against an unpopular incumbent. Among every part of the electorate, including among Democrats, voters agree that the status quo has got to go.
Even while running as an indie, we are maintaining strong support among grassroots Democrats. It’s the party leadership we oppose, the ones who have lost touch with the people. We intend to win among grassroots Democratic voters. And that’s because they know I’m the real “New Deal” Democrat in the race and Schultz is now the embodiment of a corporate-owned Democrat.
In addition, a great many Democrats, including in Florida, will always see Debbie Wasserman Schultz as the real “spoiler” — spoiling the Democratic Party and our democracy.
There’s another big difference between Nader’s 2000 campaign and ours. Nader was running as a Green at a time when only a few percent of the population identified as Green. And while I strongly support the Green agenda and I have the support of many Greens, I’m running as an indie at a time when nearly a plurality of my district now identifies as independent.
And here’s the really great news for us: among Millennials, Gen Xers, and younger voters, about 71% are now indie, and they are the most progressive and fastest growing part of the electorate!
The Schultz camp should worry that they can’t win a 3-way race!
I have one last beef with Schultz’s whispering campaign against me as a Nader-like spoiler. It’s very premise is factually incorrect. In 2000, for every one of the 24,000 Democrats who defected to vote for Ralph Nader in Florida, about 12 times as many Democrats (308,000) voted for Bush. Exit polls in Florida showed that if Nader had not run, Bush would have won the state by even more!
After the 2016 election fiasco — with Hillary Clinton losing to Donald Trump after referring to everyone even thinking of voting for him as “deplorables” — Democrats should have learned to stop shaming and blaming the voters. But vote shaming is what this “spoiler” argument is all about and it’s a losing argument. The present political divide is no longer just Republicans versus Democrats. For most of us, it’s insiders versus outsiders, and corruption versus integrity.
I’m not afraid of a three-way race, I’m not afraid of debates, and I’m not afraid of Schultz and the corrupt machine she serves. We have the people on our side, and that’s because we are of, by, and for the people.
Keep the faith and thank you for all your support!
Sun Sentinel Editorial Board | POSTED ON: 6/13/2018
Broward County needs a new supervisor of elections, but not the way Tim Canova wants it to happen.
Last month, Canova prevailed in his lawsuit alleging that Supervisor Brenda Snipes wrongly destroyed paper ballots from his unsuccessful challenge of U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz in the 2016 Democratic primary. In a recent op-ed for the South Florida Sun Sentinel, Canova called for Gov. Rick Scott to suspend Snipes and appoint a replacement.
Governors can remove constitutionally elected officers like Snipes only for misfeasance or malfeasance. Snipes faces no criminal charges, but her actions in the Canova case again question her competence.
Snipes’ recent problems include results being too early and too late, and several mistakes with ballots in 2016. Snipes ordered the Canova-Wasserman Schultz ballots destroyed 12 months after the election, even though federal and state laws require preservation for 22 months. Snipes did so even though a lawsuit over the ballots was pending. She called it a mistake.
We must note that Snipes got the job through a gubernatorial appointment. In 2003, then-Gov. Jeb Bush removed Miriam Oliphant because there was doubt that she could hold an election on her own.
There was some controversy because Bush is a Republican and Oliphant is a Democrat, but Bush’s decision was correct. And in heavily Democratic Broward County, Bush picked Snipes, a Democrat and former high school principal. Despite Snipes’ problems, she has not dropped to Oliphant’s level of incompetence.
Scott’s record also gives no assurance that he would avoid partisanship in picking a replacement. Scott, a Republican, signed an elections bill that a judge determined was designed to suppress votes by those who tended to vote Democratic. Scott approved a partisan-designed purge of voter rolls that supervisors of both parties resisted.
In addition, Republican groups twice have made bogus claims against Snipes in what we believe were efforts to drive down Democratic turnout. One came from the National Republican Lawyers Association. Another, in the form of a federal lawsuit, came from the American Civil Rights Union, a conservative counterpoint to the left-leaning American Civil Liberties Union.
Still, Florida’s second-largest county deserves better.
Even the best reading of Snipes in the Canova case is bad for her. It would seem simple enough to follow basic rules on how long to preserve ballots. Yet Snipes didn’t. She blamed her staff for mislabeling boxes and giving her bad information. But Snipes is the supervisor. And this is not the first time we’ve had reason to question her supervisory skills.
We sought comment from Snipes’ attorney, Burnadette Norris-Weeks. She cited the supervisor’s motion for summary judgment.
In that filing, Snipes claims that Canova placed “unreasonable conditions” on his request for the ballots. He wanted to bring his own equipment. He made demands that were outside the request. The office did not hear from Canova or his representatives for months before he filed the lawsuit.
In essence, Snipes claims the request by the Nova Southeastern University law professor was a publicity stunt. Canova lost to Wasserman Schultz by 14 points, well outside the margin for a recount. The ballot inspection would have been his version of a recount. Canova has suggested, directly and indirectly, that the primary was rigged against him.
Snipes might have prevailed, but she couldn’t get around the unlawful destruction of the ballots. As Broward County Circuit Court Judge Raag Singhal noted, Snipes presented no evidence “refuting that the public records sought were destroyed while this case was pending. . .”
So Snipes deserved to lose. Public trust, however, becomes collateral damage. Snipes even claimed that scans of the original ballots were an “alternative form of preservation.” That sounds too much like “alternative facts” and is not what a supervisor of elections should say.
Snipes hurt her case further by demanding that Singhal recuse himself. The supervisor claimed that Singhal ruled against her — a prominent Democrat — to improve his chances of an appointment to the federal bench.
Two years ago, we endorsed Snipes’ opponent in the Democratic primary. We said Snipes “is 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.”
Yet Snipes got 76 percent of the vote and easily won a fourth term. Absent a strong candidate with widespread backing from the Democratic Party, Snipes likely would win again in 2020.
But the Canova case shows again that Snipes has stayed too long.
Because of her failure to retain the ballots as required, Scott is sending state employees to monitor her work in this year’s elections. “The Secretary of State’s office will continue to ensure that every Supervisor of Elections understands and follows the law,” his statement said.
“When we lose faith and confidence in the integrity of our elections,” Canova wrote, “our entire democracy suffers.”
Brenda Snipes should announce that she will not seek another term.
Editorials are the opinion of the Sun Sentinel Editorial Board and written by one of its members or a designee. The Editorial Board consists of Editorial Page Editor Rosemary O’Hara, Elana Simms, Andy Reid and Editor-in-Chief Julie Anderson.
A group of Democratic senators is introducing a bill aimed at securing U.S. elections from hacking efforts, the latest response to attempted Russian interference in the 2016 presidential vote.
The bill introduced Tuesday is specifically designed to ensure the integrity of and bolster confidence in the federal vote count.
It would require state and local governments to take two steps to ensure that votes are counted correctly. Under the legislation, states would have to use voting systems that use voter-verified paper ballots that could be audited in the event a result is called into question.
State and local officials would also be required to implement what are known as “risk-limiting audits” — a method that verifies election outcomes by comparing a random sample of paper ballots with their corresponding digital versions — for all federal elections.
Both steps have been endorsed by cybersecurity professionals as a way to ensure confidence in the vote count. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen has also recommended that states transition to voting systems that generate paper backups that can be audited.
“Congress must act immediately to protect our democracy from cyberattacks. Any failure to secure our elections amounts to disenfranchising American voters,” Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), the lead sponsor of the bill, said in a statement.
“For Americans to have confidence that their votes count, and that election results are free and fair, there absolutely have to be paper ballots and mandatory audits for each and every federal election,” Wyden said.
Currently, five states use paperless voting machines that do not produce a paper backup, and many more have mixed voting infrastructure with some localities using paperless systems. Twenty-two states do not legally require post-election audits.
Revelations of Russian meddling have triggered fears about the possibility of future interference efforts that could cast doubt on the outcome of U.S. elections.
The Department of Homeland Security revealed last year that Russian hackers targeted election-related digital systems, such as voter registration databases and websites, in 21 states as part of a broader plot to interfere in the 2016 vote. In a small number of cases, hackers succeeded in breaking into systems.
Officials maintain that none of the targeted systems were involved in actual vote counting, and that there is no evidence any votes were changed.
Some security experts say it would be difficult to wage a hacking campaign against voting machines, which are not connected to the internet and are typically stored in secure facilities. Experts say it’s unlikely that hackers could actually have a material impact on the vote. Others, however, are more skeptical of the security of voting systems.
“Why would we give foreign adversaries the opportunity to hack into our voting systems when we have better, more secure alternatives?” Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), one of the bill’s sponsors, said Tuesday. He added that the legislation represents a “critical step toward protecting one of our nation’s most precious assets: the integrity of our democracy.”
There have been other attempts in Congress to address election security at the state level. A bipartisan group of senators is currently trying to attach election security legislation to a must-pass defense policy bill moving through the upper chamber.
And Congress already sent $380 million to states to upgrade old voting equipment and shore up cybersecurity as part of a massive funding package approved in March.
The Florida county election supervisor overseeing one of 2016’s most bitter primary races, pitting the just-resigned Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz against progressive law professor Tim Canova, unlawfully broke federal and state laws by prematurely destroying that election’s ballots.
A ruling by Broward County Circuit Court Judge Raag Singhal found Broward County Election Supervisor Brenda Snipes violated the state’s open record laws and federal law when she destroyed the ballots a year after the August 2016 primary, where Wasserman Schultz beat Tim Canova by 6,775 votes, according to the certified results. (Federal law requires election records be saved for 22 months after the general election).
Canova, assisted by television journalist and documentary filmmaker Lulu Friesdat, wanted to verify the 2016 primary’s vote count. But Snipes repeatedly rebuffed their efforts, even telling Friesdat thst she would have to pay nearly $72,000 before the election office in Florida’s second most populous county would produce the primary’s ballots.
“It is undisputed that the original paper ballots cast during primary elections are public records,” Judge Singhal wrote. “Had the ballots not been destroyed [a year after the primary election], the Court would have been required to enforce the Public Records Act and order Defendant [Snipes] to produce the records for inspection and copying ‘while in the custody of the supervisor of elections… at any reasonable time, under reasonable conditions.’”
Singhal went further and chastised Snipes for stonewalling a candidate and the media.
“The [Florida] Constitution grants every person the fundamental right to inspect or copy public records. Whether the public chooses to inspect or copy is not the choice of the governmental agency which has custody of the records,” the ruling said. “The Court finds Defendant’s violation is two-fold: (1) violation of state and federal retention requirements and (2) violation of affirmative responsibility to preserve evidence… Here, Plaintiff [Canova] filed suit to compel the production of the records but the records were destroyed while this case was pending before this Court.”
Singhal ordered Broward County to repay Canova’s court fees. The County election office and its attorneys have not been commenting to the press. But Politico reportedthat Republican Gov. Rick Scott’s administration has said it would send an observer for the upcoming 2018 primary in August and general election in November.
Canova, who is again challenging Wasserman Schultz in 2018—as an Independent—said Scott should remove Snipes and federal officials should open an investigation. Canova said his attorneys have told him that Broward County is likely to appeal the decision.
“So far, our legal fees are $250,000,” he said, adding the prospective appeal could end up costing the county’s taxpayers $1 million, after lawyers on both sides are paid.
What Was Broward County Hiding?
In 2016’s primary, Wasserman Schultz reportedly received 28,298 votes, compared to 21,504 votes for Canova. That primary came weeks after she resigned as DNC chairwoman because her staff had been caught plotting against Bernie Sanders’ campaign for the Democratic nomination. Emails from her staff had been hacked by Russian agents, according to U.S. intelligence officials, and ended up on Wikileaks.
That backdrop, pitting Canova, a Berniecrat progressive, against one of Hillary Clinton’s most ardent supporters and a centrist, attracted national attention. However, Canova lost the primary by 13 points and initially did not seek a recount. After he was contacted by Friesdat, whose team had done a statistical analysis of the race, he began to question the count’s accuracy, he said this week.
The county did provide some data in response to the public records request. With that data, Friesdat was able to compare the number of ballots cast to the number of votes awarded, revealing widespread discrepancies. In some precincts, there were 20 more votes awarded than ballots cast, for a total of 1,000 improperly tallied votes in the election as a whole. In the article she originally published on the subject, Friesdat quotes multiple election experts who said the discrepancies were alarming, showing “massive incompetence” or that the county was “grossly negligent.”
Canova’s campaign had also done internal polling that made him believe the actual primary results were much closer than the officially certified vote total, prompting the ensuing open records request, subsequent court filings in response to the county’s stonewallling, and the Florida Circuit Court ruling in his favor—because Broward County had destroyed the 2016 ballots.
“In this matter, it is undisputed that the original paper ballots were destroyed,” Judge Singhal wrote. “As such, the only remedy available to the Plaintiff is for this Court to grant summary judgment and award attorney’s fees.”
While Canova and election transparency activists hailed the ruling, Canova said there was tremendous pressure from election officials and Democratic Party to drop the matter and not verify the vote. Until Singhal’s ruling, he was treated as an unwelcome gadfly citing federal law that said election records had to be saved for 22 months and Florida law saying they had to be made available for inspection and copying.
“I think what prevents people [from verifying the vote] is this culture of shaming,” he said. “Candidates are told, ‘Don’t be sore losers. You’ll never have another chance to run.’”