With a governorship and Senate seat at stake in the key 2020 state of Florida, President Trump blasted Broward County Supervisor of Elections Brenda Snipes for her handling of an ongoing ballot count that is producing more votes for Democratic candidates in razor-thin races.
“She has had a horrible history … and all of a sudden they’re finding votes out of nowhere,” President Trump told reporters Friday.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott, the Republican Senate nominee who now leads incumbent Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson by just 15,000 votes, filed a lawsuit Thursday accusing Democrats of trying to steal the election.
He contends Snipes and Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Susan Boucher have fabricated votes, and he wants state authorities to take over the counts. The election officers failed to provide a required tally of ballots Wednesday morning, he said. In the meantime, tens of thousands of ballots have been added to the votes since Election Night.
State law requires the first unofficial vote count to be verified by Florida’s secretary of state by Saturday. A recount is mandatory if the winning candidate’s margin is less than 0.5 percentage points. The gubernatorial and Senate races are within the range requiring an automatic machine-recount, and the Senate race may be within the margin for a hand-recount.
Scott began with a 57,000 vote lead in the Senate race. But as of Friday morning, the margin had dwindled to about 15,000. Republican Ron DeSantis leads Democratic Rep. Andrew Gillum in the governor’s race by 36,000.
‘Democrat lawyers are descending’
Meanwhile, the Democratic Party has enlisted Perkins Coie lawyer Marc Elias in the recount effort. He worked for both the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee during the 2016 election. And it was his law firm that hired Fusion GPS to produce the infamous dossier of anti-Trump opposition research.
Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., tweeted Thursday that “Democrat lawyers are descending on Florida.”
“They have been very clear they aren’t here to make sure every vote is counted. They are here to change the results of election; & Broward is where they plan to do it, the senator said.
In his lawsuit, Scott accuses Snipes of being “unwilling to disclose records revealing how many electors voted, how many ballots have been canvassed and how many ballots remain to be canvassed.”
Scott noted that on election night, Broward County said there were 634,000 votes cast.
But by Thursday, he said, the number had increased to 712,840 ballots cast on Election Day. And in Palm Beach County,”there are 15,000 new votes found since election night.”
In his tweets Thursday, Rubio complained of a “slow drip” of tens of thousands of additional ballots mostly favorable to Democratic candidates.
The senator charged the late disclosures violated Florida election law, which requires that tabulated mail-in and early voting ballots be reported within 30 minutes of polls closing.
“Bay County was hit by a Cat 4 Hurricane just 4 weeks ago, yet managed to count votes & submit timely results,” Rubio wrote on Twitter. “Yet over 41 hours after polls closed #Broward elections office is still counting votes?”
In July, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel newspaper reported that in a lawsuit charging Snipes had illegally destroyed ballots, she “acknowledged the processes her office [has] been using aren’t perfect and that some noncitizens and felons have voted despite not being eligible—especially right before major elections, when groups are actively registering new voters.”
The Republican National Committee, the Daily Caller noted, pointed out 12 news stories reporting accusations of incompetence and possibly criminal action against Snipes over the past four years:
- Illegally destroying ballots (Sun Sentinel, May 14, 2018)
- Absentee ballots that never arrived (Miami Herald, November 6, 2018)
- Fellow Democrats accused her precinct of individual and systemic breakdowns that made it difficult for voters to cast regular ballots (Miami Herald, November 4, 2014)
- Posted election results half an hour before polls closed – a very clear violation of election law. (Miami Herald, November 2, 2018)
- Sued for leaving amendments off of ballots (Miami Herald, October 20, 2016)
- Claiming to not have the money to notify voters when their absentee ballot expired (Sun Sentinel, November 8, 2018)
- Having official staffers campaign on official time (Broward Beat, July 20, 2016)
- Problems printing mail ballots (Miami Herald, November 2, 2018)
- Accusations of ballot stuffing (Heritage, August 1, 2017)
- Voters receiving ballots with duplicate pages (Miami Herald, November 2, 2018)
- Slow results and piles of ballots that cropped up way after Election Day (The Capitolist, November 8, 2018)
- Opening ballots in private, breaking Florida law (Politico, August 13, 2018)
Elections supervisor confronted
WPLG-TV in Miami reported Snipes had a “testy exchange” with one of the station’s reporters Thursday as the elections supervisor was asked about the status of the recount.
“Could I please get a moment to go into the room and find out?” Snipes asked the group huddled around her. “OK, when I come back I’ll let you know.”
“But, Dr. Snipes, it is now Thursday,” said WPLG investigative reporter Jeff Weinsier. “We are still counting ballots in Broward County.”
“We’re counting five pages or six pages for each of the people who voted,” Snipes said.
“But other counties have been able to do it,” Weinsier said.
“But other counties didn’t have 600,000 votes out there,” Snipes retorted
“Well, Miami-Dade did,” Weinsier said.