Former Broward County election chief Brenda Snipes is suing outgoing Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) over his decision last month to suspend her, arguing that it was “malicious and politically motivated.” Snipes, who filed the lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida, is seeking to be reinstated to her position. “The suspension by Governor Scott, operating in concert with the public airing of the allegations against Snipes, deprived her of liberty and property rights without constitutionally adequate procedures,” her lawsuit reads. In addition to Scott, the lawsuit also lists Florida Senate President Bill Galvano as a defendant.Full Article: Former Florida elections official Snipes sues to be returned to job | TheHill.
Articles about voting issues in Florida.
Elections officials across Florida say they expect former felons to flock to their offices to register to vote next month when a newly passed ballot initiative launches one of the largest enfranchisement efforts in modern U.S. history. But partisan politics and logistical questions are clouding the Jan. 8 rollout of a state constitutional amendment that could restore voting rights to more than 1 million ex-felons in Florida. Democrats and voting rights advocates cried foul this week when Governor-elect Ron DeSantis, a Republican and critic of the measure known as Amendment 4, said the Republican-controlled state legislature must first pass a law to implement its changes.Full Article: Politics cloud felon voting rights restoration in Florida | Reuters.
Florida: Lawmakers might not give voting rights back to felons, even though 64% of voters want them to | Business Insider
Florida lawmakers might not be ready to put Amendment 4 — a measure approved by 64.5% of Florida voters that would give voting rights back to most felons who have completed their sentences — into action. According to WFTV 9, a local news station in Florida, the state has put enforcement of the amendment on pause until the new governor, Republican Ron DeSantis, is sworn in. WFTV reported that lawmakers are waiting to see if the Florida Legislature might need to weigh in on the measure. The amendment, which would restore voting rights to more than 1.5 million felons, does not call for any involvement of this kind. In Florida, 23% of African-American adults cannot vote due to a previous felony conviction. Amendment 4, the measure that would change that, received wide support among residents in a state with strict clemency laws. It was scheduled to take effect on January 8.Full Article: Florida lawmakers stall process to restore voting rights to felons - Business Insider Deutschland.
Florida: Ron DeSantis says Amendment 4 should be delayed until he signs bill from lawmakers | Tampa Bay Times
In an interview with the Palm Beach Post’s George Bennett, Gov.-elect Ron DeSantis said that Amendment 4, which was approved by 64.6 percent (or 5.2 million) of Florida voters, shouldn’t go into effect as intended by the people who wrote the ballot measure. Instead, DeSantis said the amendment, which would restore voting rights for most ex-felons who have served their sentences, should take effect after state lawmakers pass “implementing language” in a bill that is then sent to him for his signature. That means at least a two month delay in restoring felon rights. Advocates of Amendment 4, like the American Civil Liberties Union, say the measure should go into effect on Jan. 8, but session doesn’t start until March 5. This could deny voting rights for many in Tampa hoping to cast a ballot in the mayor’s race.Full Article: Ron DeSantis says Amendment 4 should be delayed until he signs bill from lawmakers | Tampa Bay Times.
After one of the most contentious midterms in state history, House Democrats are preparing a package of election reforms to extend voting deadlines, standardize election processes across counties and improve the signature matching process ahead of the 2020 elections. But Republican leaders have suggested such reforms are not high on their priority list going into next year’s session. In a wide-ranging Wednesday morning workshop, Democrats batted around several proposals including adjusting voting and registration deadlines, eliminating prohibitions on counting early votes and requiring signature-matching training for supervisors and canvassing boards. Democrats also raised the possibility of alternative means of verifying voters’ identities — like using the last four digits of Social Security numbers — and pushing supervisors to update old voting equipment to minimize counting delays.Full Article: FL House Democrats weigh election reforms after 2018 midterms | Miami Herald.
A contested election. Accusations of election fraud. Widespread attention from the national media. No, it’s not in Florida, which has had its fair share of election hijinks over the decades. It’s in North Carolina, where a Congressional race might get a rare election do-over after allegations surfaced that a political operative helped the Republican candidate win by illegally collecting absentee, or vote-by-mail, ballots. The case highlights a notable difference between the two states, however: North Carolina has much tougher laws than Florida when it comes to voting by mail. Although Florida, like many states, has imposed strong voter ID laws for casting a ballot at a polling place, it’s done virtually nothing to stop fraud in the vote-by-mail process.Full Article: Vote-by-mail scandal in North Carolina exposes Florida’s lax laws | Tampa Bay Times.
Florida officials say thousands of mailed ballots were not counted because they were delivered too late to state election offices. The Department of State late last week informed a federal judge that 6,670 ballots were mailed ahead of the Nov. 6 election but were not counted because they were not received by Election Day. The tally prepared by state officials includes totals from 65 of Florida’s 67 counties. The two counties yet to report their totals are Palm Beach, a Democratic stronghold in south Florida, and Polk in central Florida. Three statewide Florida races, including the contest for governor, went to state-mandated recounts because the margins were so close.Full Article: Thousands of mailed ballots in Florida were not counted.
Florida voters spoke clearly four weeks ago: They restored the right to vote to most convicted felons who complete their sentences. When it becomes Florida law in five weeks, an estimated 1.2 million felons will be eligible to rejoin the voter rolls. But at a statewide elections conference Tuesday, it was obvious that confusion and uncertainty still hovers over implementation of Amendment 4. The state announced that it has stopped transmitting documents counties use to remove convicted felons from the rolls. One official said the issue requires more research on how to carry out the will of the people. “The state is putting a pause button on our felon identification files,” Division of Elections director Maria Matthews told election supervisors from most of the state’s 67 counties at a mid-winter meeting. “We need this time to research it, to be sure we are providing the appropriate guidance.”Full Article: Confusion clouds restoration of Florida felons’ voting rights | Tampa Bay Times.
Florida: Palm Beach County is the lone county to reject sensors that detect hackers | Tampa Bay Times
To help deter hackers from infiltrating voting systems, the federal government offered all of Florida’s 67 counties a tool to detect and monitor electronic intruders. While the technology does not stop hackers, it alerts officials about possible threats and allows them to respond faster when data may be at risk. Only one county—Palm Beach—rejected the technology in the months prior to Election Day. That could change now that Palm Beach County plans to update its system next year. “We didn’t think it was a good time to put some function on a legacy system,” said Palm Beach Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher. “We’ll take a look next year when we buy new equipment.”Full Article: Palm Beach County is the lone county to reject sensors that detect hackers | Tampa Bay Times.
The fallout over Florida’s turbulent recount is escalating after the state’s outgoing Republican governor decided to oust a South Florida elections official. Gov. Rick Scott late Friday suspended embattled Broward County Supervisor of Elections Brenda Snipes even though Snipes had already agreed to step down from her post in early January. Scott replaced Snipes with his former general counsel even though Peter Antonacci has no elections experience. Snipes responded by rescinding her previous resignation – and will now be “fighting this to the very end,” her attorney said during a Saturday news conference. “We believe these actions are malicious,” said Burnadette Norris-Weeks, who said that Broward County voters should be concerned about what Scott is trying to do in the Democratic stronghold by putting in an ally who could oversee the office into the 2020 elections.Full Article: Embattled Broward elections supervisor will fight suspension.
When the dust settled from the 2018 Florida Senate recount, Republican Rick Scott had beaten Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson by 10,033 votes. Give or take a few hundred. Maybe more. As the New York Times put it on November 16, in what was one of the more understated headlines of the year, “Nearly 3,000 Votes Disappeared from Florida’s Recount. That’s Not Supposed to Happen.” No, it’s not. The American people are asked to have a bit of faith in our system of government, but no faith should be required when it comes to election results. Faith depends on believing in things unseen, and ballots can be seen and touched, counted and recounted. But in a few counties in Florida, election officials essentially asked the voters to close their eyes, click their heels together three times, and believe that their initial unofficial results were correct, even though hundreds or thousands of votes had gone missing during the machine recount.Full Article: Florida Recount 2018: Can Counties Like Broward and Palm Get It Together Before 2020?.
Palm Beach County was plagued by broken machines and missed deadlines this midterm election, putting them once again in the national spotlight. Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher blamed the problems on the machines, which at one point during the machine recount overheated, causing them to have to recount thousands of votes that had already been counted. Bucher said she has repeatedly asked for new machines for the past 10 years, but has been stuck using the eight machines already there when she took office in 2009. The problem is those machines use a software that only allow each individual race to be scanned at a time. Bucher said and the county confirmed there is money in the budget to the tune of $11.1 million set aside to pay for new counting equipment, but it hasn’t been purchased yet.Full Article: When will Palm Beach County get new voting machines? | WPEC.
When a federal judge ruled Thursday not to suspend election recount deadlines across Florida in the races for U.S. Senate, governor and agriculture commissioner, he also had some harsh words to say about the state’s handling of the elections. “We have been the laughingstock of the world, election after election,” U.S. District Judge Mark Walker said. To many people, it seems little has changed in Florida since 2000, when the U.S. presidential race was decided by the Sunshine State more than five weeks after Election Day. Voting irregularities were also uncovered across the state. … Except for overseas and military ballots, mail-in votes must be in the county supervisor of elections office by the time the polls close on Election Day. Mail ballots are also vulnerable to problems with voter identification. More than 3,600 mail-in ballots cast on Nov. 6 were tossed out because of mismatched signatures, according to Florida Division of Elections Director Maria Matthews. That tally does not include some of the state’s largest counties, including Duval and Miami-Dade County.Full Article: Elections Experts Suggest Florida Rethink Recount Deadlines, Rules | WJCT NEWS.
As Florida suffered through nearly two weeks of election counts and recounts, the scale of the vote-tallying woes in some places became painfully evident. Three of Florida’s four largest counties — Broward, Palm Beach and Hillsborough — admitted to problems in their machine recounts so troubling that they either failed or refused to submit results by the state’s deadline. And little wonder. During the statewide machine recount, the number of votes counted in the Senate race in Broward County was 3,500 less than the initial tally. Among the culprits: the county elections office’s accidental omission of 2,000 early-voting ballots in the machine recount. In Palm Beach, elections officials conducting the recount found “dozens of precincts missing a significant number” of votes, something that county Elections Supervisor Susan Bucher blamed on malfunctioning vote-counting machines. That prompted a time-consuming redo, which Bucher said caused her office to fail to meet the deadline for the Senate race. Saddled with tabulating machines that could not recount more than one race at a time, she did not even begin the recount for the other races, making hers the only office in Florida to fail to complete its machine recount in the five days allowed.Full Article: Florida election: Examining vanishing votes in machine recount.
The Republican candidate for commissioner of agriculture in Florida conceded his loss Monday — sort of. Matt Caldwell, a Republican, lost the election by less than 7,000 votes. He was so stung by the series of blunders by Democrats elected to run the elections offices in two South Florida counties that he confessed that he remained unconvinced of the results. “Unfortunately, as a result of the abject failures in Broward and Palm Beach, it has become clear that we may never gain an understanding of what transpired in the hours and days after polls closed,” he said in a statement. His announcement came the morning after the embattled elections supervisor in Broward County, Brenda C. Snipes, told Gov. Rick Scott that she would step down from her post on Jan. 4, a decision that came in the wake of multiple ballot mishaps that plagued Broward County after the Nov. 6 election.Full Article: Florida Election Finally Ends, but Criticism of It Does Not - The New York Times.
A voting system has to do two things: Count votes correctly and keep them secure. The Sequoia voting system in Palm Beach County, harshly criticized and already old in 2007 when the county paid $5.5 million to keep it, has for years come under fire for not reliably doing one or the other — or both. The aging system made headlines again last week, when high-speed vote counters appeared to overheat. That delayed vote counting in the nationally watched Florida recount. Why Palm Beach County didn’t update its aging vote-counters. Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher Thursday reiterated her belief that equipment malfunctions are at fault for a failure to finish a machine recount in four races by a state-mandated deadline. The county’s equipment is so outmoded she didn’t have time to even start the recount of nearly 600,000 ballots in two of the statewide races.Full Article: Palm Beach County voting hardware has storied history of snafus.
Florida: Charges of Vote Stealing in Florida Portend More Distrust in System for 2020 | The New York Times
The chaotic images out of Florida’s election recount last week — the brigade of Washington lawyers, the déjà vu meltdown of the tallying in Broward County, the vitriolic charges and countercharges — have prompted flashbacks among the electorate of the 2000 presidential election. Yet to the combatants in both parties fighting over impossibly tight races for governor and senate, the 2018 election was less about revisiting past political traumas than about setting the stage for the bitter 2020 campaign ahead. The legal and political skirmishing in the state, Republicans and Democrats say, has been an ominous dry run for messaging and tactics about fraud and vote-stealing that threaten to further undermine confidence in the electoral system. Florida emerged from the 2018 midterms with a fortified reputation as the nation’s most competitive battleground, a state whose political culture most closely reflects the slashing political style of its adopted son, President Trump — with candidates focused on energizing voters with visceral, at times over-the-top, messages.Full Article: Charges of Vote Stealing in Florida Portend More Distrust in System for 2020 - The New York Times.
Florida: Lawmakers plan to tackle election problems after state called ‘laughingstock of the world’ | Orlando Weekly
Florida lawmakers will be asked to tackle how elections are run, after the chaos of this year’s elections led to a federal judge calling the state’s process “the laughingstock of the world.” Incoming Senate President Bill Galvano, who will take the reins of the chamber on Tuesday, told reporters Friday that he expects lawmakers to review various aspects of the elections process, from the handling of vote-by-mail ballots to certification dates. Galvano, R-Bradenton, said he’s heard from a number of senators about the issue and that he wants to revisit aspects of state elections laws. He pointed to problems beyond the current election cycle, which has included troubled recounts in races for U.S. Senate, governor and agriculture commissioner and three legislative seats. The goal, he said, is to keep future elections from “judicial intervention.”Full Article: Florida lawmakers plan to tackle election problems after state called 'laughingstock of the world' | Blogs.
Florida’s voting system was called into question again after several high-profile recounts in the midterm elections. Florida will undoubtedly be a battleground in the 2020 presidential election, and the state will have work to do to improve the way it handles voting. From old ballot-processing machines to high levels of partisanship exhibited by election officials, there were a slew of problems with how voting was managed in Florida this year, according to Edward Foley, director of the election law program at Ohio State University’s Moritz College of Law (@OSU_Law). What happened this year in Florida’s elections that worries Foley the most ahead of 2020, though? Overheated rhetoric.Full Article: What Can Florida Do To Improve Its Voting System Before 2020? | Here & Now.
Florida: Florida Democrats hire investigator to look into altered mail ballot ‘cure’ forms | Tampa Bay Times
The Florida Democratic Party has hired an investigator to dig into altered “cure affidavit” forms sent out to voters whose mail-in ballots had missing or non-matching signatures, according to a statement released by the party’s lawyer. “Upon receiving notice of the allegations that the form was incorrect, FDP took immediate steps, including hiring an independent investigator to review the issues at hand,” read the statement by attorney Mark Herron. “As soon as we know the results of the investigation we will advise you.” The move comes after the Florida Department of State sent a letter to federal prosecutors on Nov. 9 asking them to look into the forms, which they had received from voters in four different counties. The forms, which the voters had apparently received from the Democratic party, had an incorrect deadline listed at the top for mail-in ballots to be fixed: Nov. 8, instead of the real deadline of Nov. 5.Full Article: Florida Dems hire investigator to look into altered mail ballot ‘cure’ forms | Tampa Bay Times.