A South Florida law professor, running to unseat Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, is calling for a federal investigation into the destruction of all ballots cast in the August 2016 Democratic primary in Broward County. The challenger, Tim Canova, has made repeated public records requests and filed a lawsuit seeking access to paper ballots cast in his unsuccessful race last year against the former Democratic National Committee chair in Florida’s 23rd congressional district. A statistical analysis of the primary conducted last year suggested the election results were “potentially implausible.” Over the past year, the Broward supervisor of elections, Brenda Snipes, has taken no action on Mr. Canova’s requests to examine the ballots, and she has urged a judge to throw Canova’s lawsuit out. Despite the pending records requests and the ongoing litigation, Dr. Snipes ordered the ballots and other election documents destroyed, according to papers filed in circuit court here.
“When something like this happens where all the ballots are destroyed, it completely undermines people’s faith in the system,” Canova says in an interview. “What is the Broward supervisor of elections hiding?” he asks.
The Monitor reached out to Snipes and to her lawyer. They did not respond to requests for comment. Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz’s office offered no statement on the issue.
The supervisor’s destruction of the documents comes at a time of intense public alarm over potential attempts by Russia and other foreign powers to hack into American election systems. One safeguard against such efforts is the ability to conduct robust audit procedures based on a close examination of paper ballots cast by voters.
Election experts agree that the lack of a paper trail verifying voter choices undercuts the ability to identify systemic election fraud and might make such fraud impossible to detect.