Florida elections officials are meeting this week in Sarasota at the Florida State Association of Supervisors of Elections Mid-Winter Conference. This year’s meeting takes on added significance following last month’s General Election that resulted in historical recounts in three statewide races: U.S. Senate, governor and state agriculture .
It also comes in the wake of this weekend’s actions surrounding Broward County Supervisor of Elections Brenda Snipes. Snipes announced after the election that she would resign next month after being criticized for the way she handled the election and recount. On Friday, Gov. Rick Scott announced he wasn’t waiting for Snipes’ resignation to take effect and announced he was suspending Snipes citing “widespread issues with voting” in Broward County.
Snipes fired back and announced Saturday that she was rescinding her resignation and would fight the suspension handed down by Scott.
The winter meeting is normally an opportunity for the state’s 67 supervisors and election equipment vendors to meet and discuss upgrading equipment. But as the Sarasota Herald-Tribune reported Sunday, the conference will likely involve discussions about the the challenging midterm election in Florida.
“We will also have representatives from the Secretary of State’s Office that will be meeting with us,” said Ron Turner, Sarasota County Supervisor of Elections and host of the event. “The Secretary of State is the chief elections official for the state of Florida. Having the opportunity to interact with them in person and as a supervisor is important.”
Local election officials, consultants and attorneys will draw up recommendations for correcting the problems that surfaced last month. The recommendations will be drafted this week for the incoming state legislature. A report by ABC News this weekend says “there seems to a surprising amount of agreement of what to include.”
This exceptional case brought calls for timeline extensions and clarifications in guidelines. Simply, many officials believe they need more time and systematic knowledge to certify results before submitting to the state.
Ronald Labasky, general counsel for the Florida State Association of Supervisor of Elections (FSASE) meeting this weekend, told ABC News that he plans on flushing out these concerns with other officials this weekend.
“Everything’s supposed to be signed, sealed, delivered by 10:30, and that’s not how our timelines work,” Labasky said.
The situation involving the suspension of Broward’s election supervisor won’t be the subject of any official dicussion at the meeting, but it will likely be talked about among those attending.
“We believe it’s a malicious action that should not have happened,” Broward elections office attorney Burnadette Norris Weeks said on Saturday announcing that Snipes would withdraw her resignation and fight the suspension.
Scott announced Snipe’s suspension late Friday.
“After a series of inexcusable actions, it’s clear that there needs to be an immediate change in Broward County and taxpayers should no longer be burdened by paying a salary for a supervisor of elections who has already announced resignation,” Scott said in a prepared statement.
Peter Antonacci, who currently serves as the president and CEO of Enterprise Florida, was chosen by Scott to serve the remainder of Snipes term until a replacement can be chosen by voters in November 2020.
Snipes found herself the target of much criticism during the vote counting and recounts. In his suspension order, Scott was critical of Snipes for “missed deadlines,” “lost ballots,” and “not being able to report basic information to the public.