Julio Gonzalez, M.D., J.D.
Four days following the end of general elections, the process of vote tabulation in Florida appears to be irreparably corrupted due primarily to the misfeasance displayed by two rogue Florida counties, Palm Beach and Broward.
Each county continued to demonstrate significant election aberrancies long after the election had been called. Both Broward and Palm Beach failed to meet the 7:30 Tuesday deadline for reporting early and mail-in election tabulations. These ballots, according to Florida law, had to have been tabulated before Election Day so they could be disclosed 30 minutes following the close of the polls. Sixty-five out of Florida's 67 counties timely completed including highly populated counties such as Miami Dade and Orange.
More significantly, in Broward County, election officials, led by Supervisor of Elections Dr. Brenda Snipes, were still tabulating without allowing the process to be witnessed as required by Florida's Public Records Act. The move caused Governor Rick Scott to sue the two counties' election offices for the right to inspect. Scott prevailed in both hearings leading to court ordersrequiring that both Supervisors of Elections allow the Governor and his team to inspect the tabulation process. Neither Supervisor complied with the orders by the 7 pm Friday deadline, a clear affront to the judiciary.
Snipes herself has a long recordof negligence, if not downright fraudulence. In 2016 Snipes intentionally and improperly destroyed ballots in the Democratic primary election involving Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz according to a May 2018 circuit judge ruling. Also in 2016, a medical marijuana amendment was left off some ballots distributed in Broward County. That same year, the Broward County Supervisor of Elections Office began posting elections results prior to the closing of the polling stations. In 2012, over 1,000 uncounted ballots were discovered a week after the election, and in 2004, 58,000 mail-in ballots were never delivered to voters.
Snipes continued her gross incompetence this Friday when she mishandled 205 votes irrevocably mixing valid and invalid ballots and then counting them. According to The Miami Heraldthere were approximately 20 invalid ballots in this bunch.
This morning, the Broward Sheriff's Department respondedto a call at a Tamarac Lakes Community Center where two locked ballot boxes were found unattended. This after a report of another box of ballots being found abandoned in a Broward County school. Additionally, video footage demonstrated private vehicles dropping off ballot boxes onto rental trucks in Broward County without the establishment of a chain of custody. Similar trucks were also observed delivering boxes into the Supervisor of Elections Office.
Many, including Congressman Matt Gaetz have called for Governor Scott to remove Snipes from her position due to her gross incompetence. If Governor Scott were to remove Snipes, she would be only the second Supervisor of Elections to be removed from office by a governor, the first one being Miriam Oliphant who, ironically, is Snipes’ predecessor.
On Saturday, Broward County met the preliminary reporting deadline of 12 pm. The county reported 714,859 votes, up from the original tabulation of 695,799 representing an increase of 19,060 votes. While in Palm Beach County, where The Federalist Pageswas unable to determine how many ballots had been cast and were outstanding, reports are of 15,000 new ballots having appeared.
As of Friday afternoon, Nelson trailedScott by 14,922.
The state has now ordered machine recounts of a handful of races including the Scott/Nelson race. The counties have until 3pm Thursday to comply.
All the while, attorneys on both sides are flying complaints at the courts and authorities. With all these indiscretions and disgruntlement, it is hard to imagine a resolution that would instill Floridians with confidence in their voting process; and that's the greatest tragedy of all.
Dr. Julio Gonzalez is an orthopaedic surgeon and lawyer living in Venice, Florida. He is the author of The Federalist Pages and serves in the Florida House of Representatives. He can be reached through www.thefederalistpages.com to arrange a lecture or book signing.