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Nancy Smith

Final Galling Footnote about Brenda Snipes and How She Lasted as Long as She Did

December 1, 2018 - 6:00am
Brenda Snipes
Brenda Snipes

Don't feel too sorry for Brenda Snipes. The already unlamented Broward County supervisor of elections, replaced Friday by Gov. Rick Scott, is leaving if not in a blaze of glory, certainly in possession of a fatter pension package than most career public servants will ever see.

The Sun Sentinel reports Snipes will receive an annual pension of $71,000 for her time in elected office -- no penalty assessed for the added expense her bungles cost taxpayers, let alone for the laws she broke over the years. She will also continue to receive an annual $58,560 pension from her previous career as a public school teacher -- nearly $130,000 a year in all.

One last comment, if I may, about Democrat Snipes and her curious knack of surviving one professional disaster after another.

I Beg to DifferThe mainstream media's stories about Snipes' woeful 2018 election performance -- every one of them that I can find -- check the "careful box," the one that apologizes for all the fuss because "let's make it clear, no fraud was ever found" in Snipes' Broward County Supervisor of Elections Office.

While that's true, most news outlets were claiming Snipes' innocence before a single law enforcement agency had taken a real look. And how much of a look did any of them take?

Could such coddling be how this serial screw-up survived four elected terms after Jeb Bush appointed her in 2003?

I have to ask myself, have the media been Snipes' enablers for a decade and a half?

What I read was, shame on Gov. Rick Scott, the Republican senatorial candidate, and commissioner of agriculture candidate Matt Caldwell, for ever suspecting the supervisor's profound bungling might actually be an attempt to steal the election for the blues. How dare he urge authorities to investigate it?

I don't get it. 

Does the liberal press hate Scott that much?

How much more evidence do authorities need to investigate suspicion of election fraud?

Never mind for now Broward's blue neighbor, Palm Beach County.
Broward, unearthing box after box of uncounted ballots after Nov. 6, failed to submit a final vote count for days after polls closed and continued to err once a recount was ordered, losing 2,040 ballots and ultimately missing the state’s machine recount deadline by two minutes -- all due, professed Snipes, to unfamiliarity with the Secretary of State website. 

The missed deadline voided a net gain of 779 votes for Scott and more than 700 votes for Caldwell. Fortunately for the integrity of the election, in the end those votes wouldn't have changed the results.

Broward elections officials also opened 205 provisional ballots before their validity was confirmed by a canvassing board and a Florida judge found that Snipes violated public records law by refusing to update the public as the votes were counted.

Maybe it was all incompetence, none of it malfeasance. But the call to investigate the series of failures in Snipes' or any other SOE office is right and proper after any election in the United States of America.

Scott's decision to pluck Snipes ahead of any potential forensic cleansing of the Broward SOE office is a stroke of genius, particularly in replacing her with Pete Antonacci. I developed a lot of respect for troubleshooter Antonacci when he led the South Florida Water Management District staff. I can't think of anybody who could do a better job of poking  around for the truth about Election 2018 in Broward or do a better job of identifying the kinks in the SOE office. 

Personally -- God knows, I've written about it enough times -- I don't think elections will ever entirely come right until we dump Election Season and return to one voting day, Election Day. Remember one voting day?

No shenanigans, no incessant whining, no lawsuits, no imported poll watchers from Poland. Make it a national day off. Make it illegal for any employer to insist employees work that day.

Once upon a time supervisors of elections spent all their time not as unwitting political footballs, but educating voters and preparing for an orderly and letter-perfect Election Day. The New York Times touched on the problem in a Nov. 17 story, "America’s Election Grid Remains a Patchwork of Vulnerabilities."

I wonder what Brenda Snipes' future might be today if there had been less pressure on her to be a Democrat and more to be a citizen?

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

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