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Broward County's own report on its election performance cites several problems

Steve Bousquet, Miami Herald/Tampa Bay Times Tallahassee Bureau on

Published in News & Features

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- The former Broward supervisor of elections, Dr. Brenda Snipes, says she'll fight Gov. Rick Scott's suspension order after she announced her plans to resign, following a tumultuous 2018 election and three recounts that brought intense negative scrutiny to her operation.

Snipes has the right to do that. It would culminate in a trial before a Florida Senate that's controlled by Republicans and Scott supporters, the only body that could remove a public official from office. But a newly released report filed with the state by Broward on its election performance may not make Snipes' fight for vindication any easier.

By law, every county must file a "conduct of election" report with the state, signed by the three members of each county's canvassing board, which includes two Broward judges and Snipes.

The reports focus on the election, not recounts. The Miami Herald/Tampa Bay Times obtained the reports under the public records law.

Broward's report cites a series of equipment breakdowns, staffing shortages, procedural violations and changes in ballot totals -- problems widely reported in the weeks after the election, such as the mix-up involving the counting of a group of 205 provisional ballots.

The report notes for the first time that Snipes' staff brought 25 ballots to the canvassing board for a review of voter intent after the county sent its first set of unofficial election returns to the state.

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One reason those ballots weren't provided faster, the report says without amplification, was "a threat against a public official."

"The (canvassing) board determined voter intent for each ballot and instructed staff to keep the 25 logically and physically isolated so they could be identified if needed in a post-election challenge," the report said.

Broward has 1.2 million voters and nearly 600 voting precincts. On Election Day, 20 ballot scanners jammed or had sensor issues and were replaced.

That's 20 out of 1,684 scanners, and Broward was not alone. Hillsborough County, for example, said it removed 46 machines during early voting and 11 on Election Day for jams, printing errors or "unable to insert key." (Those machines are for use by voters with disabilities.)

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