Broward County elections supervisor Brenda Snipes contaminated about 200 valid provisional ballots by combining them with more than a dozen rejected ballots, the Miami Herald reported late Friday.
The Broward canvassing board discovered the mistake when Snipes conceded to Republican attorneys’ demand that she present the board with 205 provisional ballots for inspection on Friday evening.
The 205 contaminated provisional ballots were filled out by voters whose information did not appear in the databases at their respective polling stations, but whose registrations were confirmed when election workers called the Broward elections headquarters. As a result of the discrepancy, the ballots were not added to the final count and were submitted separately on Friday evening at the request of attorneys representing governor Rick Scott, the Republican Senate candidate.
Broward election officials have not explained how the rejected ballots were first introduced to the pool of valid ballots.
“The ballots cannot be identified,” Snipes confirmed when asked about them by one of the Republican attorneys during Friday’s emergency hearing. Despite her admitted inability to extricate the rejected ballots, Snipes argued that the canvassing board should accept all 205 ballots.
“It seems unfair to me to disenfranchise 205 voters at the expense of a few voters,” she said.
The fate of the 205 contaminated ballots remains unclear, as there is no apparent legal remedy.
Broward had to submit a final vote count by noon on Saturday, but recounts are expected in both the Senate and gubernatorial races.
Snipes, who has previously been found guilty of violating Florida election law on two separate occasions, initially refused to disclose the number of mail-in absentee ballots that her office received but was ordered to do so on Friday night by a Florida judge.
As the polls closed on Tuesday night, Scott was leading incumbent Democratic senator Bill Nelson by more than 50,000 votes, but that margin has since narrowed to roughly 1o,000 votes as Broward and Palm Beach Countyhave continued to report absentee ballots.
The lack of transparency has invited allegations of corruption by prominent Republicans, including Senator Marco Rubio of Florida and President Trump.