A new supervisor of elections was sworn in this week in Broward County, Florida, one of the most scrutinized counties across the nation during the recent midterm elections.
Florida’s counties conducted two recounts for tight races. Broward repeatedly bungled the recounts, mixing in illegal votes with legal ones, refusing to follow the law and provide regular updates on vote counts, missing a key deadline by two minutes, thus invalidating the first recount, and ending the second recount with 2,000 votes missing.
Gov. Rick Scott suspended Broward County Supervisor of Elections Brenda Snipes, citing the raft of issues during November.
“Every eligible voter in Florida deserves their vote to be counted and should have confidence in Florida’s elections process,” Scott said in a statement.
“After a series of inexcusable actions, it’s clear that there needs to be an immediate change in Broward County and taxpayers should no longer be burdened by paying a salary for a supervisor of elections who has already announced resignation.”
He appointed Peter Antonacci, who has served the governor in other capacities including as the executive director of South Florida Water Management and as head of business recruitment agency Enterprise Florida.
“That great mission is to see to it that every eligible voter is registered to vote and every vote counts,” Antonacci told CBS on Thursday.
Antonacci, 70, will serve the remainder of Snipes’s term, which runs through the 2020 presidential election. The Broward County election supervisor position is normally elected by voters outside of replacements; Snipes was also originally nominated in 2003 by Gov. Jeb Bush as a replacement before being voted into office in 2004 and reelected three more times.
Snipes rescinded the resignation she had submitted after Scott suspended her, claiming that her office has “always done our work in an air of quality and integrity.”
Trouble With Recounts
The Broward County office has been under fire in previous elections. After the Democratic primary in a 2016 Congressional race, Snipes destroyed ballots, an action prohibited by state and federal law. The ballots were the subject of a lawsuit against the office.
Snipes admitted that there were mistakes during the recount but often blamed them on underlings.
“There have been issues that did not go the way we wanted it,” she said last month. “You can call it a mistake or whatever you want.”
While Snipes was a Democrat, Antonacci has been criticized for being a Republican, but he said that will not influence his decisions.
“It’s not a political job, and I’ve never approached any of the assignments that I’ve had with a political bent in mind,” said Antonacci after his swearing-in ceremony, reported WSVN. Asked if he had a message to Broward voters who were displeased with how their votes were handled, his reply was simple: “Watch me.”
“He is going to do a tremendous job for the people of Broward County,” added former Florida Attorney General Bob Butterworth as he stood next to Antonacci.