Democratic Challenger Says Primary Election Ballots Destroyed Too Early

Dec 19, 2017

The 2016 Democratic primary election in Broward County may have passed without any technical glitches, but one candidate maintains a federal law was broken after the fact.

Democratic candidate Tim Canova ran against Debbie Wasserman Schultz for her congressional seat, which covers portions of Broward and Miami-Dade counties on Aug. 30, 2016. 

When the results rolled in, Canova lost by more than 6,100 votes. But he didn’t formally contest the election. Instead, he made a public records request to inspect ballots at the Broward County Supervisor of Elections Office. 

In June 2017, he filed a lawsuit when he and the office argued over the ballot inspection.   

 

“You take for granted that the ballots will be counted properly, and that if you have concerns you can just sort of check under the hood and do a public records request and just put everybody’s minds at ease,” Canova said.

More than a year after the election in question, Canova maintains that Broward’s Supervisor of Elections, Dr. Brenda Snipes, ordered the paper ballots to be destroyed before the federally required period of 22 months. 

Snipes has held the supervisor's position since 2003.

She signed a ballot destruction order for the Wasserman Schultz-Canova 2016 race on Sept. 1, 2017. At least in Florida, ballots that are a part of an ongoing lawsuit can’t be destroyed without a judge’s order. 

Snipes said digital images of the ballots should suffice instead of paper.

“There were a lot of changes with the request … I’m sure we’ll be getting through this soon,” Snipes said.

Meanwhile, Canova’s campaign was allowed to inspect some precincts digital copies of the ballots.