It’s nowhere near as bad as 2000, but the mess in Florida’s Broward County is at the very least a cautionary tale about massive mail-in and early voting, with events in Arizona adding to the fire.
As a series of tweets by Sen. Marco Rubio flagged on Thursday, Broward Elections Supervisor Brenda Snipes was refusing to report the number of ballots still to be counted, or even to provide regular progress reports. A judge late Friday ruled that she’s in violation of the state public records act.
In the past, courts slapped Snipes for illegally destroying ballots in the wake of a contested 2016 vote count for a House seat and again this February for opening mail-in ballots before they’d been authenticated.
Her office has also had troubles with leaving ballot measures off some ballots, illegally reporting early-voting results before the polls closed and on and on.
Now some Republicans suspect Broward’s late count (and similar slow reporting from next-door Palm Beach County) is allowing shenanigans to favor the Democratic candidates for governor and US Senate. Already, they’ve reduced GOP election-night leads enough to force statewide recounts.
Even if it all comes down to incompetence, not chicanery, it could taint the final results.
The same is true in Arizona, where Republicans have gone to court over local election officials’ decisions to continue validating mail-in ballots long after Election Day — something the GOP lawyers say violates the law. This could upend the Senate race, where late-reported votes have put Democrat Kyrsten Sinema ahead of Republican Martha McSally, who led Wednesday morning.
Set your partisan blinders aside, and it’s easy enough to see why Republicans will scream if they see highly irregular and far-from-transparent action by local officials in heavily Democratic counties “stealing” a US Senate seat. Or why Democrats will be furious if GOP “vote suppression” does the “stealing.”
One bottom line: Early voting and vote-by-mail won’t be any cure-all for the woes of New York City’s Board of Elections, as Mayor de Blasio and City Council Speaker Corey Johnson suggest. Gifted bunglers can always find a way to mess up.