My Op-Ed: I Warned Gov. Scott About Broward’s Election Swamp

By Tim Canova | November 9, 2018 | Link to Sun Sentinel Op-Ed

 

For two years, I have been warning that the Broward Supervisor of Elections office is a swamp of corruption. I’ve been urging Gov. Rick Scott to fire Supervisor Brenda Snipes, clean out the office and start criminal investigations. I’m sure Gov. Scott now wishes he had heeded those warnings.

In 2016, I took a leave of absence from Nova Southeastern University, where I am a tenured law professor, to run for Congress in a Democratic primary against Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz. After I lost by about 13 percentage points, I sought to inspect the ballots to verify the vote, as permitted under Florida’s public records law.

Unfortunately, Snipes stonewalled my requests for months, and I was forced to file a lawsuit in mid-2017. Early this year, Snipes admitted in a sworn videotaped deposition that she had destroyed all the paper ballots. Several months later, the Florida Circuit Court granted me summary judgment, and found that Snipes had violated numerous state and federal statutes, including some punishable as felonies with up to five years in prison.

 

 

Snipes has claimed there was no harm to the public because we could inspect the digital scanned images of the ballots. But there’s no way to inspect the software of the electronic voting machines that create those scanned ballot images. The software is “proprietary” — the private property of the software vendors hired by the supervisor.

Why would anyone run for office — or even vote — while we have this awful system of black-box voting with electronic voting machines that are inherently susceptible to hacking and software manipulation? I’ve come to believe the only way to have fair elections is to move to a system of 100 percent hand-marked paper ballots that are counted by hand, in public, by nonpartisan and trans-partisan teams of citizens.

Both before and after the court ruled against Snipes, I warned that if she were kept in office, there would be more official misconduct in elections. None of our law enforcement agencies — the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the Florida Attorney General or the U.S. Attorney for South Florida — were interested in starting criminal investigations.

After Democratic Party leaders failed to support any investigation, I decided to leave the party and run again as a No Party Affiliation (NPA) independent candidate. I was very clear that I did not expect a fair election and that Snipes would likely try to punish me by rigging the election again. But I wanted to use the campaign to expose as much of the corruption in our elections as possible.

My recent campaign as an independent caught fire in the final weeks. We saw an upsurge in support when a Republican news outlet reported on a Republican poll that showed us in a dead heat with Wasserman Schultz, and the Republican candidate far behind.

In early voting, we saw an upsurge of new voters, especially young voters who don’t normally participate in midterm elections. Hundreds of volunteers stepped up, canvassers were knocking on 5,000 doors a day by the end, and we had volunteers at almost every Early Voting site and Election Day site, where we witnessed a steady stream of voters from across the political spectrum breaking our way.

On election night, Snipes’ office reported that I had received less than 5 percent of the vote, a vote tally so low it’s absolutely ludicrous. Somehow, we’re supposed to believe that I got half the number of votes in a general election than I received in a closed primary, and at a time when my name recognition was so much higher than two years ago.

Today, everyone is acutely aware of the problems in Snipes’ office. Both parties in Florida are responsible for this election nightmare. Neither was willing to stand up for the rule of law. Democrats took no heed when Snipes was photographed campaigning with Wasserman Schultz barely a week before the recent election. They should not be surprised that Republicans now suspect a rigged election.

Unfortunately, nobody seems to care about election rigging until it happens to them. But this problem is bigger than any candidate. It should concern all of us as Americans.

Sadly, I no longer trust any election result reported in Broward County. There needs to be an investigation of every election that’s taken place here. I call on Gov. Scott to do what he should have done many months ago: immediately fire Brenda Snipes and replace her with someone with integrity who is more interested in fair elections than in favoring particular candidates or parties.

Tim Canova is a professor of law and public finance at Nova Southeastern University in Davie/Ft. Lauderdale.

 

Many people have asked how they can help. Here’s a message I sent to our supporters.

Thank you.

Tim

Editorial: Broward Voters Deserved Better From Snipes – She Should Go

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

Gov. Rick Scott Sues Broward Elections Supervisor Brenda Snipes

Lawsuit Cites Snipes’s Delay In Counting Ballots

 

Link to Miami Herald story

Election Post-Mortem

With Everlasting Appreciation And A Personal Appeal From Tim

Tim with campaign staff and volunteers on Election night

In the final weeks of our race against Debbie Wasserman Schultz, our campaign exploded with energy. We had hundreds of people stepping up to volunteer, canvassing door-to-door and at early voting and Election Day voting sites, making phone calls, and stuffing envelopes. There were massive social media and text messaging programs. A Republican poll had us in a dead heat with Wasserman Schultz and wherever we were on the ground, we saw voters breaking our way. Wherever we were on the ground, and across the political spectrum, we saw voters breaking our way and openly rejecting Wasserman Schultz.

A great many people were therefore surprised to hear that official election results had us in single digits, with Wasserman Schultz getting something like 58% of the vote. To say the least, I do not find the results credible.

From the beginning, we knew that Wasserman Schultz would try to rig the election. What’s remarkable is how open and blatant the rigging is now. They destroyed the ballots in our 2016 primary without any criminal prosecutions. The results they rigged in yesterday’s election were simply ludicrous. But with a compliant media, there’s no real scrutiny. Along with election experts and recount lawyers, we are now considering our options.

It’s incredibly disappointing to me, and I’m sure to all of you, that we live in a country where it’s impossible to have any real faith or confidence in the election results. In fact, Wasserman Schultz campaigned openly a week before the election alongside Brenda Snipes, the very Broward Elections Supervisor who illegally destroyed all of the ballots in our 2016 primary and who I have been calling on the law enforcement agencies to investigate and prosecute. Snipes and her private software vendors have the means, motive and opportunity to rig the software of the electronic voting machines, including the scanning and tabulation machines. And under the law, none of us are permitted to inspect such software, which is considered the private property of the software vendors hired by Snipes.

We also have no confidence in the chain-of-custody or authenticity of the paper ballots that are shipped to the Supervisor’s warehouse. Quite simply, without hand counting of paper ballots in public at the polling sites, our elections are not transparent or verifiable. There is no rational reason to trust the election results here in Broward County, where the elections office is literally a criminal enterprise acting with impunity. Yesterday’s election results are simply not credible.

For the past three years, I have poured my heart and soul and most of my savings into this fight for democracy and the rule of law. Now, with the election behind us, it’s time to wind-down the campaign and retire campaign debt. I’m sorry to report that the campaign incurred some tens of thousands of dollars in debt in the final push. I am now writing to ask for donations to help retire the debt. Please click here to help us in this difficult time.Contributions will be designated to retire debt from this 2018 campaign.

To our recurring contributors, if you wish to stop your recurring donation, please email Farbod@TimCanova.com.

I am grateful for all your steadfast support. It’s been thanks to all of you that we were able to wage two spirited campaigns against one of the most corrupt political machines in the country. In so doing, we stripped the bark off the tree, revealed Wasserman Schultz’s dirty record of fundraising and corporate pandering, and the truly corrupt nature of our campaign finance and elections systems. In the process, we woke up and inspired millions of people around the country.

I will keep you posted about any possible recount of yesterday’s election results. I have been in hot pursuit of Debbie Wasserman Schultz and her corrupt machine for the past 34 months. It has been a time of sacrifice and bold action. It is now time to start recovering from the battle fatigue of this protracted struggle. Although I will soon return to teaching, rest assured that the Ivory Tower will not keep me far from the public forum and the issues that matter to us all.

So many have sustained my spirits with prayers and well wishes. My hopes and thoughts are with all of you.

Tim

Caught On Video: Ballots Transported In Private Vehicles

ELECTION NIGHT CORRUPTION

 

Caught On Video: Concerned citizen sees ballots being transported in private vehicles & transferred to rented truck on Election night. This violates all chain of custody requirements for paper ballots. Were the ballots destroyed & replaced by set of fake ballots? Investigate now!

 

Many people have asked how they can help. Here’s a message I sent to our supporters.

Thank you.

Tim

Tim’s Comments On Election Night

 

“I would like to thank our supporters in our district, across Florida, the country and even the world. You gave us energy to fight for the issues we believe in. For many reasons, tonight’s results are impossible to believe. As a result, we are considering our options. Thank you.”

 

Many people have asked how they can help. Here’s a message I sent to our supporters.

Thank you.

Tim