UPDATED: 4:19 p.m. EDT — As it turns out, the threat of a federal investigation into alleged voter fraud in Florida’s Broward County turned out to be just that — a threat. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement confirmed Friday afternoon that Gov. Rick Scott, whose campaign for U.S. Senate was stalled as votes continue to be counted in his and other contests, never formally asked for an investigation and apparently was bluffing about suing Broward County Elections Supervisor Brenda Snipes, according to the Miami Herald.
“We do not have an active investigation,” Florida Department of Law Enforcement spokeswoman Gretl Plessinger said.
The news stood in stark contrast to the apparent posturing of the opposite by Republican officials who were complaining that Snipes, who is overseeing vote tabulation, was working to give votes to Democratic candidates in the Senate and gubernatorial elections. Still, that didn’t stop Republican supporters from calling for Snipes, a Black woman, to be arrested.
As ballots were still being tabulated in Florida’s series of contentious elections this week, all eyes were seemingly on Broward County, where there could still be tens of thousands of uncounted votes. Those very votes may end up deciding who becomes the next governor of Florida, which explains why the woman supervising the election there has come under fire by Republicans.
Broward County Elections Supervisor Brenda Snipes was being sued by Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s senate campaign and the National Republican Senatorial Committee for alleged “incompetence” because she has not formally announced how many votes were left to count. When asked about it Wednesday night, she said, “I can’t give you an exact number. I’m not sure. I’m really not sure.”
After the leads by Republican candidates began to shrink to levels that could force recounts, the president on Friday joined in the partisan attack against Snipes, tweeting in part that Broward County has “miraculously started finding Democrat votes.”
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum, who is also the mayor of Tallahassee, had conceded defeat to his Republican opponent Ron DeSantis late Tuesday night. But as votes continued to be counted and DeSantis’ lead shrank to less than half of a percentage point, Gillum stated demanding a recount. As of Thursday night, “Gillum trailed DeSantis by about 36,000 votes, or 0.44 percentage points,” according to the Orlando Sentinel.
In the Senate contest that Scott was running in, Democrat Bill Nelson was trailing by “about 15,000 votes, a margin of 0.18 points.”
The fact that a Black woman was presiding over the vote counting process in the pivotal Broward County likely only compounded the apparent anger Republicans were expressing over the elections they thought they won Tuesday night. Republicans were alleging Snipes was knowingly committing voter fraud.
This wasn’t Snipes’ first brush with electoral controversy, as she has been accused of a variety of improprieties surrounding a number of the state’s elections.
But her page on the state’s website begged to differ.
“Because of her extensive and successful leadership and administrative skills, Dr. Snipes was asked by Governor Jeb Bush to serve out the term of Supervisor of Elections in Broward County,” her state website said. “She was re-elected for a four-term in November 2004, 2008, 2012, and again in 2016. During her tenure in this position, she has held several successful elections and under her leadership more than 50,000 local high school and college students have been registered to vote.”