Broward officials are demanding answers for the county’s prolonged ballot count, and at least one county commissioner said she expects to press Elections Supervisor Brenda Snipes for an explanation Friday when the canvassing board meets to examine overseas and military ballots, and to certify official results.
Criticism of Broward’s elections office comes on the heels of this week’s announcement that workers discovered 963 ballots scattered within the Lauderhill elections warehouse nearly one week after Election Day.
Snipes repeatedly declined this week to answer detailed questions about what occurred, but she issued a written statement Thursday that said the majority of the 762,000 votes cast on Nov. 6 were tabulated and reported by 11:59 p.m. election night as required by state procedures.
Snipes’ statement also assured voters that every ballot cast would be counted when final election results are certified Sunday.
“The process of continuing to tabulate votes following the first unofficial report is customary across all elections and is in compliance with existing Florida election law,’’ the statement read.
But Broward and state officials did not agree that a prolonged count is customary or acceptable.
When asked about Snipes’ performance, several Broward commissioners interviewed for this story would not call for her ouster but did raise concerns, saying they want more information about election and ballot counting problems.
“There are definitely more questions than answers in the past 10 days,” Commissioner Chip LaMarca said.
The Broward commission’s sole representative on the canvassing board, Commissioner Ilene Lieberman, said she has asked for, but has not received, an explanation from Snipes for the discovery of 963 ballots nearly one week after Election Day.
Broward elections spokeswoman Mary Cooney told The Miami Herald this week that “less than 1,000 ballots” were found and that it wasn’t unusual to find ballots after Election Day.
“The ballots weren’t lost,’’ Cooney said. “They were here physically in the building.”
Broward elections workers found the unaccounted-for ballots late Monday at the Voting Equipment Center in the Lauderhill Mall, where votes are tabulated and the canvassing board meets. Those ballots included 798 cast on Election Day, and 165 absentee ballots, the Sun Sentinel reported.
After the discovery of the ballots, Snipes told the Sentinel that it was “customary’’ for votes to be tallied until the Nov. 18 final certification.
“What we do, and we’ve found it beneficial, is to comb the entire plant looking for something that may have been put in the wrong place. It happens. And when we did that, that’s when we identified [the additional] votes,’’ Snipes told the Sentinel.
But in a statement posted on the supervisor of elections website Thursday, Snipes refused to acknowledge that ballots were misplaced at the elections warehouse.
“The ballots that were tabulated after the first unofficial results are not considered ‘lost’ and therefore were not considered ‘found,’ ’’ Snipes wrote. “All ballots were in the possession of the Supervisor of Elections at all times during the vote tabulation process.’’