Judge Rules Broward Elections Supervisor Improperly Destroyed Ballots

A judge ruled that Broward County Supervisor of Elections Brenda Snipes improperly destroyed ballots too early after the 2016 congressional primaries.

Tim Canova, who ran against the Debbie Wasserman Schultz, said that change is needed following the judge's ruling – calling for Snipes to be removed.

"We don’t have any confidence or faith in the integrity of our elections in Broward County when a supervisor can destroy ballots like this," Canova said. "There’s no real check on them.”

Following the loss to Wasserman Schultz, Canova requested that he see the paper ballots used. He filed a lawsuit, saying Snipes prevented him from seeing the papers.

"This supervisor of elections violated the law in so many ways. Destroyed the ballots before the 22 months federal requirement, a year early almost ... violated state law in destroying the ballots and also destroyed evidence in a pending litigation," Canova said.

Snipes approved the destruction of the paper ballots in September. Snipes' legal team said they strongly disagree with the judge's decision:

"The Broward County Supervisor of Elections Office made a scanned copy of all ballots from the 2016 Primary Election available to Tim Canova in a digital format. The Office never refused to provide any public records. The scanned ballots were an exact duplicate of the paper ballots and were kept in the normal course of business. The scanned ballots contained the date and time of the scan and allowed Plaintiff to conduct his unofficial audit of the 2016 primary election. No attempt was ever made by Canova prior to the filing of his lawsuit to attempt an inspection of the paper ballots, which were available at the time. The Court never acknowledged that scanned ballots were made available to the Plaintiff in his ruling. It is our position that Florida’s Public Records Act was never intended for someone to gain a windfall from a mistake where there has been absolutely no harm. The Elections Office will appeal the decision. "

It could cost the elections office more than $200,000 to pay for Canova's attorney fees after losing the lawsuit.

Canova is running again for office in November, but this time as an independent candidate. State experts will be sent to Broward to oversee the upcoming election.

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