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Broward County was ground zero for election dysfunction. Here’s a breakdown.

Brenda Snipes, the supervisor of elections for Broward County, talks to workers during the recount on Nov. 15, 2018.

More from the series


Florida voting: fixing what’s broken

Florida’s 2018 election and recount fiasco reinforced the state’s reputation as a place where voting is dogged by problems. But it also presented a road map for lawmakers to follow if they want to fix the system before the 2020 presidential election.


Before the recount even began, Broward County was ground zero for 2018 election chaos and dysfunction.

Thousands of mail-in ballots arrived on Election Day, gumming up the vote count. Lawsuits, conspiracy theories and protests broke out. Candidates and state officials didn’t know how many votes were left to tally because election Supervisor Brenda Snipes couldn’t tell them.

The following is a timeline of events and correspondence based on emails, text messages, court documents and social media postings about Broward County’s efforts to count votes in the U.S. Senate race between Bill Nelson and Rick Scott. Paired side-by-side with Broward’s own vote transmission records to the state, they illustrate how things devolved as the final 38,000 votes were counted.

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This project was produced with the assistance of a grant from the Solutions Journalism Network.

David Smiley is a Florida native (yes, they exist) and veteran of South Florida journalism. He’s covered schools, cops and crime, and various city halls, earning awards for stories about municipal pensions and Miami Beach’s police department. He became the Miami Herald’s political reporter in 2018 and covered the midterm elections and recount.


Caitlin Ostroff is a data reporter for McClatchy’s DC Bureau, based at the Miami Herald. She uses data analysis and coding to present and report information as part of the investigative team.


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