Officials from Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s administration will monitor the Broward County elections’ office after a judge ruled it broke state and federal laws by unlawfully destroying ballots cast in Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s 2016 Democratic primary, Politico is reporting.
“During the upcoming election, the Department of State will send a Florida elections expert from the Division of Elections to Supervisor (Brenda) Snipes’ office to ensure that all laws are followed so the citizens of Broward County can have the efficient, properly run election they deserve,” Scott’s office said in a statement to Politico.
The action followed a lawsuit by Tim Canova, a Nova Southeastern University law professor who ran against Wasserman Schultz in 2016. He is also running against her this year as an independent.
He has maintained the governor should suspend Snipes for destroying the paper ballots. However, Snipes has said it was a mistake and pointed out her office had made copies of the ballots.
Politico noted federal and state record laws show the paper ballots should have been preserved.
The website said federal laws stipulate ballots cast in a federal race are not supposed to be destroyed until 22 months after the election.
Snipes had signed a Sept. 1, 2017, document to destroy the ballots, according to the website.
“This court finds the defendant’s violation is two-fold: (1) violation of state and federal retention requirements and (2) violation of the affirmative responsibility to preserve evidence,” Broward Circuit Judge Raag Singhal wrote. “This court finds such premature destruction of the records unlawful and in violation of the Public Records Act.”
According to Local10.com, Canova had said earlier: “If we cannot verify the vote here in blue Broward County — in a race against a party insider — if there is no transparency in an election of a disgraced party leader, then we are living at the mercy of corrupt forces in our society.”
Broward County has nearly 1.2 million registered voters and is heavily Democratic, Politico said. It is second to Miami-Dade County in population.
Meanwhile, Wasserman Schultz’s office said it had nothing to do with Snipe’s actions.
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