Broward County Canvassing Board Violating Sunshine Law, Using Police Line to Restrict Constitutional Rights

by | Nov 9, 2018

As a Florida board certified local government attorney, I spend every working day defending and enforcing Florida’s Government in the Sunshine Act and Public Records Act, the rights to which are enshrined in Florida’s Constitution.

What is happening in Broward County is entirely outrageous. Gov. Rick Scott is already addressing Broward SoE Brenda Snipes‘ willful violations of the Public Records Act. But look at this quote from today’s Miami Herald about today’s meeting of the Broward County Canvassing Board:

The door to the [Broward Supervisor of Elections] office, where a canvassing board meeting to review the last 250 provisional ballots was scheduled to begin at 1 pm, was guarded by a line of Lauderhill police. Initially, only attorneys were allowed in and press and protesters were kept outside. Reporters have since been granted access to the county’s canvassing board, which pores over unresolved ballots and send official vote tallies to the state.

This article highlights a shocking violation of Florida’s Government in the Sunshine Act (also known as the Open Meetings Act). County canvassing boards are subject to the Act. Attorneys and reporters have no special privilege over others to attend public meetings in Florida. When a body subject to the Act, like the Broward County Canvassing Board, should reasonably anticipate that attendance at a public meeting will exceed the capacity of the meeting facility, Florida law requires that the meeting be moved to a venue with sufficient capacity to accomodate the attendees.

Broward SoE Snipes and the Broward County Canvassing Board (of which she is a member) have refused to do this, and as a result, innumerable concerned citizens are being denied their constitutional rights, barred at the door by law enforcement as directed by Supervisor of Elections Snipes.

The Broward County Canvassing Board will have many more meetings throughout Florida’s machine and manual recount processes. Florida law requires that they immediately move their meetings to a larger venue with sufficient capacity to accommodate the public interested in exercising their constitutional rights. If they refuse to do so, suit should be filed to force them to immediately comply with the Florida Constitution.

The statewide media, ordinarily such vociferous advocates for Florida’s Government in the Sunshine Act and Public Records Act, have been shockingly sanguine about the matter. It apparently falls to the people to do something about it.

Wade Vose is board certified by the Florida Bar in City, County and Local Government Law, and Managing Partner of Vose Law Firm LLP in Winter Park. He and his firm serve as City Attorney to cities throughout the State of Florida. The views expressed are his own, and do not express the views of his firm or his clients.

3 Comments

  1. Steven Mercer

    I hope the Scott legal team is aware of this and has a lawsuit ready to file as soon as the Broward Canvassing Board pulls this again.

    Notice that the vote margin in the Senate race has not tightened since Scott filed suit and called on the FDLE to investigate yesterday evening. That’s quite a coinkidink. The ballot manufacturering and stuffing has seemingly slowed to a crawl now that the Broward SoE is under scrutiny.

    Reply
    • Lynn

      She should have been removed at the first evidence of impropriety

      Reply
  2. Vanc Jochim

    I was a poll watcher at the Groveland, FL Hope Church Precinct in Lake County, FL last week. I am a retired Fortune 500 internal audit manager who once supervised a team auditing the $12-billion cash flow and audit of the Treasurer’s Department of the County of Los Angeles before personal computers. I also was a Certified Fraud Examiner and anti-corruption manager in Iraq in 2004-2006.

    I compare the controls used over CASH to those needed over ballots. I could not see them because poll watchers are not given access to inspect ballot count balancing controls such as comparing voter totals generated by the new DViD driver’s license scanning machines to those counts in the ballot scanning machines.

    There are so many unexplained, apparent holes in the system, even in Lake County, where I had no direct evidence of manipulation. For instance, what are the procedures to prevent staff undoing the numbered zip ties on the bags of used ballots after everyone leaves? What are the procedures to track ALL printed ballots and ensure none are taken in batches of 50 out of the open boxes at a precinct polling site and later run through an extra machine in someone’s garage, especially when the County Clerk team leader says they don’t have control logs tracking who gets batches of ballots and later compares them to total ballots run, and left over.

    There needs to be an independent force of EXPERIENCED auditors from banking with cash control expertise to review the entire process, NOT FRIGGIN LAWYERS, and have authority to ask to see any report, recount any bundle, track what happens to the machine counts sent to HQ, etc.

    Now, there could be sound reconciliation, balancing and tracking internal controls in Lake County, but we poll watchers don’t know it. Thus, if Florida is allowing other counties like Broward, that fail to close counts at the end of voting day, I suspect that with collusion of a willing liberal Supervisor of Elections, that there are many holes in the system.

    In Groveland’s case, the two Clerks there to resolve problems were entirely overwhelmed, could not supervise or inspect what was going on elsewhere in the precinct, and were tied up on phone calls.

    Reply

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