Tuesday, November 13, 2018


Florida is counting and re-counting ballots in several midterm races, including the races for governor and a Senate seat. Republicans lead in those two contests, but as the vote count changes, the GOP victory margins have been narrowing. President Trump and other Republicans say this is electoral fraud, and some have focused on Broward County elections supervisor Brenda Snipes, who is accused even by non-partisan critics of not being very good at her job.

But twice in her tenure Snipes seems to have made misjudgments that cost Democrats votes. That seems to be what's happening now -- and the problem, by coincidence, involves on another black Democratic woman who's been a target of the president's wrath:
... on about 26,000 ballots, voters registered their choice in the governor's race ... but not for Senate. That adds up to about 3.7 percent of all ballots cast in Broward. To put it mildly, that number is radically higher than anything found in any of Florida's 66 other counties, where votes cast in the Senate and gubernatorial races have tracked about evenly.

... Did the design of Broward's ballot cause a small but critical chunk of voters to miss the Senate race?

... A look at the Broward ballot shows that the Senate race occupies a lonely corner, buried in the left column under a lengthy set of instructions. The governor's race, meanwhile, is perched prominently atop the middle column, with wide spacing between the names of all six candidates who qualified to run. There's no question where the eye is more easily drawn.

Then there is this: On the Broward ballot, the Senate race is paired in that lower left column with one other contest, for the House. Broward contains parts of four congressional districts — all of them safely Democratic — so voters in different parts of the county had different House races on their ballots. But in one of those districts, Rep. Frederica Wilson's 24th Congressional District, there was apparently no House race listed at all. That's because Wilson was running unopposed and Florida law mandates that the race simply not appear on the ballot in such a case, with the sole candidate simply being deemed the winner.

And, as political cartographer Matthew Isbell discovered, in the small portion of Broward County that is part of the 24th District, the number of ballots that contained no vote in the Senate race exploded. Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute, also examined results from precincts around the county and found that the number of non-votes in the Senate race was significantly higher than the statewide average everywhere — and particularly in the 24th District.
So a badly designed ballot probably deprived Democrat Bill Nelson of needed votes, especially in a part of the county where there was no House race tucked under the instructions along with the Senate race.

But that isn't the first time the Broward elections department has hurt a Democrat during Snipes's tenure. There was also this:
As The Washington Post reported going into the 2004 presidential election, Florida was once again expected to be a decisive swing state. As Election Day approached, Snipes blamed the U.S. Postal Service for losing 58,000 absentee ballots, then later announced that only 6,000 ballots had disappeared. Postal officials claimed they had done nothing wrong. Then, Snipes’s office dropped 2,400 absentee ballots off at the post office on a Saturday before the election, after mail carriers were already gone for the day.

“There’s no way in hell those people are going to get their ballots in a timely fashion,” a Postal Service spokesman told The Post, laying blame on Broward. “They should get their act together over there.”

The disorganization meant potential absentee Broward voters — a critical constituency for Democratic candidate John F. Kerry — were out of luck.
If Brenda Snipes is a cheating partisan, she's not very good at it.

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