Gov. Rick Scott’s office rapped Broward County’s election supervisor for giving an “insufficient response” to an official inquiry concerning her apparently “unacceptable” decision to destroy a congressional race’s paper ballots that were the subject of litigation. The ballots in question were cast in the 2016 South Florida Democratic primary between Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz and challenger Tim Canova, who later asked to inspect the paper trail because he was concerned about election integrity. Canova finally filed suit against Broward County’s election supervisor, Brenda Snipes, when he felt his public request to inspect a select number of ballots was not being honored in a timely fashion. In the middle of the suit, POLITICO first reported, Snipes’ office destroyed the paper ballots but said it made electronic copies of them.
Regardless of the electronic copies, the destruction of the paper ballots themselves is not legal, election law experts say, citing a federal law that says election records are supposed to be preserved for 22 months after a federal election. Under state law, a public record that’s the subject of litigation isn’t supposed to be destroyed without a judge’s order.
Snipes’ attorney, Burnadette Norris-Weeks, told POLITICO previously that the ballot destruction was legal because “they were maintained in an electronic format.”