Broward County is Florida’s second most populous county, right behind its southern neighbor Miami-Dade. It is also the largest county where Democrats hold a solid majority in the number of registered voters and officeholders. As a result, county leaders are often engaged in a game of tug-of-war with state lawmakers in Tallahassee, where Republicans control the governor’s office and both chambers in the legislature.
So, when Governor Rick Scott suspended Broward County elections supervisor Brenda Snipes and replaced her with Pete Antonacci, one of his loyal lieutenants, the deafening silence emanating from local elected officials and Democratic party leaders was confusing, to say the least.
That there was little opposition to Snipes’ suspension is not surprising, since many were privately blaming her for Bill Nelson and Andrew Gillum losing their respective race for U.S. Senate and Governor. Although there is no evidence to support these accusations, fuel an already growing distrust for Snipes, who, like Antonacci, was appointed the position by a Republican governor.
What should be of concern to all of us is the lack of interest and hands-off approach County Commissioners have shown in ensuring upcoming elections are secure and their results have integrity. Their approach to these issues is especially troubling, considering the wide-scale hacking attempts discovered during and after the 2016 election (including at least two counties and key vendor located in Florida) and warnings from intelligence and security agencies, of continued cyber-attacks.
County Commissioners had an opportunity to put forth some leadership several weeks ago, when Democrat state committeeman Ken Evans shined a spotlight on the inaccuracies in the data the election supervisor’s office was using to clean their voter list, but the response was the same. Crickets chirping.
Sources say, despite the mishandling of the postcard verification mailout, the SOE office did move forward with moving over 13,000 voters to inactive status. This should not prevent a voter from casting a ballot, but it will determine if your ballot is accepted on a provisional basis. As of this writing, the Westside Gazette has not confirmed the validity of this assertion.
In the coming weeks, Mr. Antonacci will present Commissioners with a budget request for over $500,000 to purchase new wireless modem cards for vote tabulators. The machines are currently equipped with a 3G modem that the wireless provider no longer supports. Although intelligence and security experts have warned against using wireless technology and machines connected to the internet, County Commissioners will silently approve this request.
And, if that isn’t enough, we have a White House administration that will stop at nothing to circumvent election and constitutional laws to ensure a victory in 2020 and a Senator (Scott) who has vowed to loyally support that administration at all cost, by placing handpicked sycophants to oversee elections in the state’s top two Democrat-rich counties; it is not only prudent for leaders to explain their indifference to these issues, we must demand answers and action.
The stakes will be high in next year’s election. Not only will it determine if our government remains in partisan gridlock, it will define our response to national and global issues such as immigration and climate change, as well as determine the composition of our local and state government as it oversees the 2020 census. That being said, it would be prudent for Mayor Holness and other Commissioners to take a more pro-active role in election preparation. They can begin by scheduling regular public discussions with Antonacci to discuss poll worker recruitment and training, voter registration, voting sites, early voting, voting by mail, ballot design and other issues. They should also educate themselves on initiatives and best practices they can implement that will lead to better security and increased voter confidence.
Commissioner’s continued reluctance to address these issues forthrightly with Mr. Antonacci and the public, will only lead many to believe what they have always suspected, that elected officials are putting their political survival ahead of disenfranchised constituents. After all, it’s hard to lose your seat when voters can’t hold anything you’ve said or done against you.
Let me know what you think. Email me at email@example.com. As always stay tuned to the Westside Gazette for more information about your vote.