Judge Rules In Gov. Scott’s Favor In Broward Elections Records Request

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WASHINGTON (CBSMiami/NSF) – A Broward County Judge has ruled in favor of Gov. Rick Scott and says Broward Supervisor of Elections Brenda Snipes must “allow immediate” viewing and copying of records that have been requested.

The judge added that it must be completed by 7 p.m.

By late Friday, attorneys for Governor Scott said they didn’t get very far in their efforts to inspect the ballots, as required by the judge’s order. Scott’s attorneys say they did receive documents before 7 p.m. but they could not access them.

“We don’t know how many pages of documents,” said attorney Jessica Kopas. “We don’t know the quality of the production. We don’t know much at all.”

Scott’s lawyers waited outside the Supervisor of Elections office into the evening Friday waiting to get in and do their inspection. Then they told CBS4’s Carey Codd that they were asked to return for their inspection at 10 a.m. Saturday.

“Did they tell you why not tonight?” Codd asked.

“Just logistics. Just logistics,” replied attorney William McCormick.


CBS4’s Carey Codd with the latest from the Broward Supervisor of Elections office in Lauderhill.

 

The lawsuit in Broward filed against Snipes claimed that her office was withholding crucial voter information and has blocked access to the office. At the emergency hearing on Friday, Scott’s lawyers said this was a “simple” public records request case about access to Broward ballots, figuring out who voted, how they voted and how many votes have yet to be counted. They added that it’s not about how votes are counted or inspecting ballots.

“This information Supervisor of Elections should have already compiled and saved,” he added, “It should take 10 minutes to do.”

An attorney for Snipes, Eugene Pettis, said Snipes “never told them she wouldn’t provide the information.” Snipe’s attorney noted that the records request was made just 26 hours before and that the focus should be on counting the vote.

Snipes attorney added that he believes Governor Scott didn’t believe Snipes was moving fast enough to finish the vote tabulation.

After the hearing, Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz argued that since Snipes was found to have violated Florida’s constitution by not following the state’s public records laws, the Governor should remove her from office.

“I’m calling for the Governor to place these offices in a state of receivership and there is a legal basis too do that because the Supervisor of Elections was violating the constitutional rights of Floridians,” Gaetz said.

But Snipes’ attorney, Pettis, say she will comply and there’s no cause to remove her.

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“The judges’ ruling does not give any basis for Dr. Snipes stepping down,” Pettis said. “This is not a time for politics. This is a time for her to complete an election cycle and allow her to do her constitutional duty that she’s done for many many years.”

Scott has filed a second lawsuit against Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher, accusing her of refusing to allow Scott’s representatives to personally witness the ballot counting. The suit also accuses Bucher of keeping the county canvassing board from performing its duties.

Senator Bill Nelson is also pursuing a lawsuit. He’s asking a federal judge to push back the noon deadline on Saturday for unofficial results to be sent to state officials, giving elections officials across the state more time to consider vote by mail and provisional ballots.

“This process is about one thing — making sure every legal ballot is counted,” Nelson said in a video statement. “Clearly Rick Scott is trying to stop all the votes from being counted and he’s impeding the Democratic process.”

The Scott campaign countered that Nelson’s lawsuit was an effort to overrule election officials.

(©2018 CBS Local Media. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The News Service of Florida contributed to this report.)

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