No rush, folks — just an election to decide and a deadline to meet. Two days after Florida’s secretary of state ordered recounts in three statewide races, Broward County had yet to recount a single ballot by close of business yesterday. With well over 700,000 ballots to count and a Thursday 3 pm deadline looming, officials seemed pretty, um … relaxed:
Two days after state officials ordered a statewide recount in three key races that ended within razor-thin margins, Broward County elections officials said Monday they have not yet started their recount of more than 700,000 ballots it must tally before Thursday’s deadline.
Broward Supervisor of Elections Brenda Snipes said she was not concerned that her office would not meet its deadline, even if the start of the recount is delayed until Tuesday morning.
“No, there is not” any concern, said Snipes, whose headquarters in Lauderhill were once again surrounded Monday by a small crowd of protesters critical of the elections chief and her competence to serve.
Contrast that with the story coming out of Palm Beach County, the other problematic jurisdiction in Florida’s latest election embarrassment. Supervisor of elections Susan Bucher announced that Palm Beach won’t be able to complete its recount by the deadline, even though the county had actually begun its recount. Bucher called the task “impossible”; if she’s right, then Palm Beach is stuck with its original count. That would be bad news for Democrats Bill Nelson and Andrew Gillum, who both hoped to pick up a lot of votes in the recount process.
Broward and Palm Beach counties don’t have a monopoly on embarrassment this time around. Manatee County had recounted a quarter of its 162,000 ballots when they discovered that an employee had failed to “press a button,” according to the Associated Press, and it had to start all over again. That’s minor compared to Broward and Palm Beach, but an issue in Bay County is more serious. The heavily Republican county admitted they allowed some voters to cast ballots by e-mail, violating state law:
Election officials in a Florida county battered by Hurricane Michael last month allowed about 150 displaced voters to cast ballots by email, even though it’s not allowed under state law.
The Miami Herald reports that Bay County Supervisor of Elections Mark Andersen defended that decision Monday.
Andersen told the newspaper that parts of the county remained shut off by law enforcement, preventing people from reaching their homes. The displaced voters were allowed to scan and email their ballots to the elections office. Andersen said all the ballots were verified by signature.
Anderson remained defiant:
“If you want to turn around and take away these votes away from voters because it’s not the normal prescribed issue, I would just say you ought to be ashamed of yourself because what we did is take care of voters.”
Ahem. Elections officials are supposed to comply with and enforce the law, and the legislature is supposed to write it. If Anderson wants to change laws, then he should run for a seat in the state legislature. If he wants to help people cast votes in his current position, then he should find ways to help them do so within the law as it exists now. Brenda Snipes isn’t the only election supervisor who needs a new career after these midterms.
However, Snipes remains far and away the most urgent case. The reason for the slow start to the recount in Broward is the necessity of separating the ballot page with the statewide races from the rest of the ballots in order to make the count more efficient. If that was necessary, it should have started immediately, although it’s curious as to why it would be necessary. Didn’t the county already conduct a machine recount with those pages attached? Why waste two days doing the separation when it would be easier to just rerun the count in the same manner as on Election Night?
It’s been eighteen years since Bush v Gore, and it seems as if Florida has changed everything about its elections except for the incompetence.