Broward County’s Election Supervisor Brenda Snipes has reportedly submitted her letter of resignation after a 15-year-long tenure rife with ballot count mishaps and overall incompetence. Her repeated failures to comply with state laws contributed to the drama surrounding tightly contested senatorial and gubernatorial races in Florida.
Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson conceded to Republican Gov. Rick Scott on Sunday, after the results of the hand recount had been tabulated. Scott led Nelson by about 10,000 votes, according to Florida’s secretary of state’s office. After election day, Scott had been ahead of Nelson by 56,000 votes, but after a statewide machine recount, that lead narrowed to 12,036 votes.
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillium conceded to Republican Ron DeSantis on Saturday after a machine recount found the Republican was leading by 34,000 votes. On Election Night, Gillium conceded to DeSantis, but walked back his concession after the tight race was set to head to an automatic recount.
As the results of these races hung in the balance for nearly two weeks, Snipes’s office reported blunder after blunder, causing many, including President Trump and Sen. Marco Rubio, to question the integrity of Florida’s ballot-counting process.
Her office missed Thursday’s 3 p.m. recount deadline by two minutes, forcing the state to rely on its earlier tally. During a hand recount that concluded on Sunday at noon, Snipes told reporters more than 2,000 ballots had gone missing, adding that they were “in the building” and that one of her staffers who weren’t as well trained had probably misplaced them. At one point, Snipes said she accidentally included 22 questionable ballots in a batch of ballots she submitted to state officials, then later walked back that claim.
Florida state law requires that all early and by-mail votes be tabulated within 30 minutes of the polls closing, but days after Election Day, Snipes had failed to disclose the total number of ballots cast and the number still waiting to be counted. When Scott’s campaign asked for basic information about votes tabulated, Snipes refused to provide him the information, instead forcing them to take her to court. She later missed a court-ordered deadline to reveal this information to the Scott campaign, drawing criticism that these failures were politically motivated.
Snipes punctuated the recount drama with odd statements, spurring critics to wonder aloud if she was competent enough to execute her duties properly. The same day news about thousands of missing ballots broke, Snipes told The Guardian that criticism against her was “probably” racially motivated.
When CNN’s Chris Cuomo asked Snipes a week after election day if her decision to defy state law and a court order by failing to be transparent was politically motivated, the election official offered a bizarre anecdote about being confused for a Republican before clarifying that she is, in fact, a Democrat.
Asked why she’s illegally withholding outstanding vote totals, Broward’s Snipes turns into an incoherent mess. She starts by offering a weird anecdote about someone thinking she was a Republican, then says she didn’t want give incomplete info, then says actually did provide it. pic.twitter.com/kYtXWxc76p
— Tom Elliott (@tomselliott) November 14, 2018
In 2004, shortly after she was appointed by former Gov. Jeb Bush to her role, she reported that 58,000 ballots had gone missing. In 2006, her office was counting ballots long after other counties had submitted their results, possibly because ballots were still left in the machines.
In 2016, her office violated federal and state election laws by destroying ballots too quickly after a congressional race. Snipes ignored a question to review ballots by then-Democratic congressional candidate Tim Canova, who was challenging Debbie Wasserman Schultz for a congressional seat. She later destroyed the ballots and even signed a certificate stating that there were no ongoing legal challenges involving the ballots.
Broward County wasn’t the only county to experience trouble throughout the ballot-tallying process. Election officials in Palm Beach County said their machines melted down during recounts, causing them to miss the state-ordered deadline.