A judge has ordered the election supervisor in Florida’s second-most populous county to change the way she handles vote-by-mail absentee ballots after the Republican Party sued her for not following the law.
The declaratory injunction, ordered Friday, prevents Broward County Election Supervisor Brenda Snipes from opening the mail-in ballots in secret or before the county’s three-member Canvassing Board meets to determine the ballots’ validity. The board can begin meeting Monday to handle absentee ballots, more than 75,000 of which have been cast in Broward ahead of the Aug. 28 primaries.
Snipes and her attorney, Burnadette Norris-Weeks, could not be reached for comment.
The ruling is the second major loss for Snipes’ office in court this year. In May, a judge criticized her office for breaking the law by destroying ballots too soon in the 2016 congressional primary between Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Tim Canova. Snipes earlier won a federal case concerning voter-roll maintenance. Broward has nearly 1.15 million voters, second only to Miami-Dade’s voter population of nearly 1.4 million.
The cases come during a period of heightened scrutiny of elections’ processes and machinery in light of attempts by hackers to penetrate election systems, which has become an issue in the U.S. Senate race between Gov. Rick Scott and Sen. Bill Nelson. Over the weekend, an 11-year-old at the DEFCON hacking conference showed how Florida’s 2016 presidential election results could have been changed on the Florida secretary of state’s website.
In the absentee ballot case, controversy arose in 2016 when Republican poll watchers complained that Snipes’ staff was opening the ballots in private, thereby making it impossible for citizens or groups to question whether the ballots were properly cast.
After Broward made a brief accommodation, the party sued in January of 2017 to make sure Snipes followed the law.
Under state law, an elector or campaign can challenge the lawfulness of an absentee ballot, but only before the ballot has been opened from its mail-in envelope. By opening the ballot before it got to the three-member Canvassing Board, the Republican Party complained, Snipes’ office was breaking the law and making any challenge impossible.
Not really sure why she
A: Is not in jail
B: STILL IN CHARGE!!!