A heated controversy over Broward County’s vote-counting process continued for a third straight day on Saturday as the county met a noon deadline to send the state its final election results.
With three tight statewide races now headed for recounts, dozens of Democrats flocked to the Broward election office to demand that every vote be counted. They confronted Republican demonstrators who have accused embattled election supervisor Brenda Snipes of election fraud without evidence.
“We thought that it was important for the community to show support for the law to be followed,” said Dequasia Canales who is with the Service Employees International Union and helped organize the Democratic protest. “It’s in response to the theories that started coming out about two days ago when Republicans said Democrats want to steal this election.”
The protests on Saturday were another highlight of a bitter partisan fight that has rattled the state and left several elections contested.
Snipes’ office met a statewide deadline on Saturday for all 67 counties to submit their election results. Secretary of State Ken Detzner has now confirmed that the governor, senate and agriculture commissioner races will see machine recounts over the next five days. All three races are within the 0.5 percentage point margin for a legally required recount.
The senate and agriculture commissioner contests may also head to hand recounts with both separated by fewer than 0.25 percentage points. Democrat Nikki Fried on Saturday still declared herself the next agriculture commissioner after recently taking a slight lead over Republican Matt Caldwell.
“We believe that the process is going to take its time and, at the end of it, we will be victorious,” Fried said a few miles away from the protest.
She added that she has already assembled her transition team with former Rep. Patrick Murphy, Rep. Darren Soto and Fred Guttenberg, the gun-control activist whose daughter was killed in the Parkland school shooting.
Snipes, an elected Democrat, has faced accusations that her office botched the vote-counting process. On Friday, a circuit court ruled that she broke public records laws and ordered her to release to Gov. Rick Scott’s senate campaign Broward’s voter tabulations.
She also admitted on Friday that she inadvertently counted about a dozen rejected ballots, fueling calls from Republicans for the state to take over her office.
“Brenda Snipes has a history this long. Longer than Al Capone.” It goes on and on, said Janet Klomburg, who stood among several protestors waving “Trump Make America Great Again” flags.
Klomburg has protested at the office for the last three days and cited past legal issues involving Snipes, who violated state and federal laws by destroying ballots from a congressional race in 2016. Snipes also mistakenly included 22 improperly-cast ballots in the final vote total sent to the state on Saturday.
Some Democrats at the rally also accused the Broward supervisor of incompetence, but noted that ballots were especially long this year, making it harder to count them. They were more concerned that votes across the state were not appropriately counted and that Republicans were impeding the process.
“Let the supervisor of elections do what she needs to do,” said Democratic protestor Pat Diaz. “You have no evidence that corruption is going on. But because it’s not going [Republicans’] way—it’s a big nonsense.”