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Nancy Smith

Broward Mail-In-Ballot Secrets? RPOF's Got You Covered, Voters

November 3, 2016 - 6:00am
Blaise Ingoglia
Blaise Ingoglia

For the second time during Election 2016, the Republican Party of Florida rose to protect the vote in the Sunshine State -- and won.

It was a bang-bang victory over vote-by-mail mishandling that played out Wednesday.

Here's what happened.

After RPOF volunteers in Broward County reported elections officers in the 600,000-strong Democratic county had opened tens of thousands of vote-by-mail ballots before they were cleared for counting, party Chairman Blaise Ingoglia moved quickly.

Appearing on Fox News Wednesday, the chairman told Adam Shapiro, "Florida law prescribes that when the supervisor of elections takes in all these ballots, they have to be approved by the canvassing board." And these were not.

The bottom line is, the officials have no legal authority to open the ballot envelopes.

The issue actually came to light behind the scenes a week ago, after the Republican National Lawyers Association sent Florida Bar-certified attorney David Shestokas from Chicago to watch the election in always-colorful Broward.

On Wednesday Ingoglia told Fox's Shapiro 1) none of the ballots had been approved, 2) he had written a letter to Broward Supervisor of Elections Brenda C. Snipes (see letter reproduced below), and 3) the party would file a lawsuit at 9 a.m. ET Thursday if county officials failed to respond to his complaint by close-of-business Wednesday.

Broward officials did respond very much on time, avoiding another day on a witness stand for Snipes, who no doubt has seen enough courtrooms for one election year.

Last week the Broward supervisor was on the witness stand explaining to Circuit Judge Carol-Lisa Phillips what corrective steps her office has taken since she left Amendment 2 off "several" ballots -- how many exactly remains a mystery. NORML, a marijuana legalization group, sued Snipes for the error, reminding the court that  -- well, yeah, it's important -- because for Amendment 2 to pass, it needs 60 percent of the voters to approve it. On Friday the judge ruled Snipes' restoration plan would suffice.

So, within hours of receiving Ingoglia’s letter, sources told The Miami Herald, Snipes’ office had brokered this two-step compromise:

  • Starting Thursday morning, board member Judge John D. Fry will be at the supervisor’s office in person to oversee canvassing of mail-in ballots.
  • Both state parties, Republican and Democratic, will also be allowed a representative on hand at at all times as ballots are canvassed.

"I am pleased that Broward County has quickly agreed to take corrective actions in response to the concerns raised in our letter," Ingoglia said in a statement he sent to Sunshine State News late Wednesday. "Florida's voters must have confidence that the election process is fair, open, and transparent. The Republican Party of Florida will continue to monitor the canvassing process to ensure there are no further violations of the law."

Brenda C. Snipes
Brenda C. Snipes

I don't know, folks. There has to be something in the supervisor of elections' water in South Florida. Every election cycle, it's something, some kind of screwup. There's never a smooth ride. If it isn't Susan Bucher in Palm Beach County, it's Brenda Snipes in Broward. Some years, heaven help us, it's both.

And we wonder how Donald Trump can amass so many believers with his "rigged elections" rhetoric.

You know how I feel. I blame a lot of it on early voting and the machinery that propels it. If these Democratic supervisors in big, populous blue counties would spend as much time preparing for a smooth election as they do putzing around with party leaders who only want to manipulate early voting, maybe they could step up their game. Run a professional ship. You know, for the sake of the principles they represent, and for the voters. Remember voters?

In fact, the Broward elections process -- canvassing board included -- is so screwed up, they don't get where they went wrong. They're way past recognizing their problems. Read between the lines of the Herald story.

"In four separate visits to the elections headquarters in Lauderhill, attorney Shestokas said he never saw the canvassing board convene or supervise the opening of ballots, even though a public notice published by the elections office suggests the board is meeting daily. ...

"In a secure room inside a warehouse, Shestokas said he watched how elections department staff sorted ballot envelopes, examined signatures and opened ballots. ... In addition to questioning why the canvassing board wasn’t present, Shestokas said he wondered why members of the public couldn’t view mail ballots before they were accepted and opened. Florida law allows the public to challenge ballots they consider invalid."

“Essentially," he said, "they’re opening the ballots in secret.” Shestokas claims he passed along his observations to the RNLA.

I know the Democrats are proud of all they do to protect voters' rights and make sure as many people as possible are properly registered to vote. Certainly they're good at crowing about their accomplishments in that area -- the Republicans, not so much. Yet, the RPOF is taking care of the same kind of business and, frankly, getting little acknowledgement for keeping the voting process honest.

A recent lawsuit filed by Democrats requested a judge allow late unregistered voters the opportunity to vote, as long as they show some kind of I.D. Despite their efforts, U.S. District Judge Mark Walker, a liberal appointed by President Obama, denied their motion.

Don't underestimate the effort the RPOF put into opposing the Democrats' request. As RPOF Chair Ingoglia said, "Not only did (Democrats) try to use the courts to circumvent Florida voting laws, they put at risk the integrity of the election process and the autonomy of local canvassing boards."

Florida Republicans should be proud of what happened Wednesday and how their party leaders resolved it.

Reach Nancy Smith at nsmith@sunshinestatenews.com or at 228-282-2423. Twitter: @NancyLBSmith

Comments

Looks like we are good going forward- But shouldn't the one already counted without an observer be reviewed? Tens of Thousands?

Brenda Snipes is reelected to office using a trick that deprived all Republicans and Independents of their right to vote. Four of nine Broward county commissioners got into office using this trick. They do not have the just consent of the voters. See this www.sun-sentinel.com/local/broward/fl-writein-commissioners-broward-20160920-story.html#nt=oft12aH-1gp5

Early voting and mail-in ballots open the door to fraud possibilities and should be curtailed. If early voting continues to be allowed, it should be limited to the week end preceding Election Day. Mail-in balloting should be limited to registered voter workers whose job assignments cause them to be away from home on Election Day and early voting periods; disabled registered voters lacking the means to get to the polls; and military personnel on assignment away from home. Registering to vote and simultaneously voting on Election Day should be disallowed. Official Photo ID cards should be issued to all registered voters by their elections office and shown to election officials at the polls prior to voting. Each officially recognized political party should ensure the presence of designated party members to closely observe the entire voting process including at the polls, the opening and counting of all mail-in ballots and votes recorded on the machines.

Ah.... the old hanging chad curse plaguing the democrats still. Too bad you've been rigging elections since the beginning, starting with the graveyard vote. Lying, cheating, wait a minute let me get this right; Snipes wants to allow "UNREGISTERED VOTERS" to vote if they have identification???? Give me a break what do they have a boiler room pumping out fake ID for illegals? At least a liberal judge with common sense shot the request down. The only way democrats can win elections is either lying about what they propose to do. "If you like your doctor you can keep your doctor." Pay to Play schemes to raise money to front their illegal campaigns, or my favorite touting their political experience. What experience a PHD in Payola?? Lying for your own self interest while innocent patriots die? AS far as I'm concerned the democratic party's platform is morally bankrupt, regurgitating the same old ideas. When that doesn't work they revert to name calling and false accusations that have absolutely nothing to do with issues. News flash.. YOU ARE NO LONGER THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY THAT JACK KENNEDY WAS PRESIDENT OF!!! Furthermore, the Russians have no interest in trying to get Trump elected as Hillary indicates they would be more in the tank for her. Socialism +Socialism + communism = Hillary Clinton. Putin is closer to her in policy than he is with Trump. Simply more propaganda on her part grasping for straws. How to make America Great Again? Send Hillary, Bill, and their accomplices to prison for their treasonous deeds.

The votes should be discounted, removed completely from the count (if a single illegal alien, non citizen, dead person or dual state registered voter is identified) and the Governor should remove the SOE from office and name an honest professional.

Way to suggest tucking over the service members. It's not like a majority of them have to vote by mail, you know all that silly serving the country wants.

The next time RPOF HELPS voters will be the 1st time ever! You can count on Fart wind to come up with an asinine opinion. I've read that Cro Magnons bred with homo sapiens. He is living proof of that.

Putting Snipes, or any one of them, through the arrest process and jail would go a long way towards straightening the rest of them out. They spend a lot of time with makeup and hairstyle appointments just to "schmooze" with voters and political hacks during elections rather than the jobs they are paid to do. "Self importance" stinks; but "political self-importance" (of any kind) is criminal... "VOTING LIVES MATTER"

No way Snipes spends a lot of time having her hair done!

Comments are now closed.

nancy smith
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