Protesters Return to Broward Elections Office As Candidates Vie For Outgoing Chief's Job

Nov 20, 2018

The recount is over, but Tuesday evening a small group of protesters gathered once again outside of the Broward County Supervisor of Elections Office in Lauderhill.

The group of about 15 people was protesting the certification of the election results, as well as the swearing in of new state lawmakers. Both events took place earlier Tuesday in Tallahassee.

The demonstration was organized by the nonprofit New Florida Majority, a political group that advocates for gender and racial equity and action on climate change. Although billed as a nonpartisan group, the organization endorsed Democratic candidates in the elections, including Andrew Gillum for governor.

The protesters said they hoped to counteract some of the raucous Republican protests at the office during the recount, which attracted dozens of people  - at times crowds grew to more than one hundred. 

"We're here to stand up against hate," New Florida Majority executive director Andrea Mercado said. "Every single vote should be counted in a democracy. ... We've given this fight a lot of heart."

The group sang: "We'll fill the streets with justice. We are freedom bound!"

Some were dissapointed that more people didn't show up. "People are tired," Mercado said. 

One protester told the crowd: "All you need is a few good people!"

Other left-leaning groups took part in the event — dubbed "Demand A Florida For All" — including Florida Planned Parenthood, Dream Defenders and the labor union 32BJ SEIU. Similar protests were planned in Miami-Dade, Palm Beach and several other counties around the state.

Broward's supervisor of elections, Brenda Snipes, was not at the office, which was closed by the time the protesters arrived. She will be out all week for the Thanksgiving holiday. 

Snipes submitted her letter of resignation to Republican Gov. Rick Scott on Sunday afternoon, just after her office finished a heavily-criticized weeklong vote recount process. 

Read More: Broward Meets Last Election Results Deadline Sunday, Cheers Erupt In Lauderhill

What's Next For Broward Elections?

In Snipes' letter, she stated that her resignation would be effective on Jan. 4.  That's after Scott leaves office to move on to the U.S. Senate but four days before Governor-Elect Ron DeSantis' inauguration.

The governor's office will choose Snipes' replacement. Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera could appoint someone during the leadership gap. Or he could leave the position for DeSantis to fill. As of Tuesday night, the governor's office would not say who will make the appointment.

Whoever wants the job must fill out a Gubernatorial Appointment Form on the Office of the Governor's website. 

Three people have already expressed interest in taking over for Snipes. 

Former Broward property appraiser and county commissioner Lori Parrish posted on social media that she has already applied.

 

"We all want to know that our votes count." - Lori Parrish, applicant for Broward elections supervisor

She told WLRN on Monday that requiring locks for ballot boxes and creating a new procedure for organizing ballots could work better, so no votes get lost.  

"It's not rocket science. It's just better organizational skills," she said. 

Businessman and Democrat David Brown ran against Snipes in 2016 and lost. He said Monday he wants to be the one to reform the office. He worries people will no longer trust the vote-by-mail system after this election. 

"I don't think that the office has [been] run very transparently," Brown said.

He'd like to make the system for people to track their ballots more efficient.

Richard DeNapoli is the only Republican who's been outspoken so far about wanting the role. He was just elected Broward's Soil and Water District supervisor, a nonpartisan position. The attorney and state committeeman for the GOP said he believes replacing much of the staff is part of the "sweeping reforms" he would make. 

 

"There's been a constant disregard for deadlines." — Richard DeNapoli, candidate for Broward elections supervisor, said of Snipes' office

"There has to be reform, and not just at the top — probably at the middle level of management," he said.

All three potential candidates agree that voter confidence is the biggest concern for the next supervisor.

Also, they've all said they would only want to serve out the last two years of Snipes' term — and not make themselves a candidate for the position in 2020.