As reported by MiamiHerald
Gov. Rick Scott suspended Broward County elections supervisor Brenda Snipes from office Friday, citing malfeasance and incompetence on the heels of a tumultuous recount during which the governor also accused the embattled supervisor of elections fraud.
Scott signed an executive order late Friday afternoon removing Snipes from office. To back his decision, he listed a litany of well-publicized problems, including the misplacement of thousands of ballots during the recount, a missed state deadline to file results and the inadvertent mixing of invalid ballots with valid ones.
“Every eligible voter in Florida deserves their vote to be counted and should have confidence in Florida’s elections process,” Scott said in a statement. “After a series of inexcusable actions, it’s clear that there needs to be an immediate change in Broward County and taxpayers should no longer be burdened by paying a salary for a Supervisor of Elections who has already announced resignation.”
Scott replaced Snipes with Peter Antonacci, a former lobbyist and one-time general counsel to Scott — a scenario Broward Democrats worried about when Snipes submitted a resignation letter on Nov. 18. Snipes had planned to step down in January, but she won’t get that opportunity now that Scott has suspended her, effectively ending her tenure.
“I know that Pete will be solely focused on running free and fair elections, will not be running for election and will bring order and integrity back to this office,” Scott said.
Snipes’ ouster is hardly unexpected, despite her looming resignation.
She became the source of national controversy in the days after the Nov. 6 midterm elections as her office struggled to count tens of thousands of ballots that, as tallies belatedly updated, helped push races for U.S. Senate, governor and agriculture commissioner into mandatory statewide recounts. Scott, who saw his lead over Sen. Bill Nelson shrink dramatically as Broward updated its votes, held a Nov. 8 press conference in front of the publicly owned Governor’s Mansion and accused Snipes of voter fraud without offering any evidence.
The allegations kicked off swirling conspiracy theories that reached all the way to the Oval Office, where President Donald Trump tweeted claims that Snipes tried to steal his win in Florida during the 2016 presidential election. In the ensuing days, protesters railed outside Snipes’ Lauderhill headquarters.
But Snipes’ problems were real.
Though his executive order lacks any allegations of fraud, it points to Snipes’ inability to provide basic information to the public and media after Election Day, and to his campaign’s successful lawsuit demanding public records and information related to counted and uncounted votes. It notes that during the count and recount, Snipes’ staff misplaced thousands of ballots, missed a deadline to turn in updated vote tallies, and separated hundreds of anonymous provisional ballots from their signed envelopes, resulting in Broward’s submission of about two dozen invalid ballots to the state as part of its official vote count.