Cal Thomas: Vote counting

MARY REICHARD, HOST: Today is Tuesday, November 13th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from member-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Mary Reichard.

NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher. Next up, Cal Thomas on the importance of free and fair elections.

CAL THOMAS, COMMENTATOR: Sen. Marco Rubio had the best line when it comes to the latest Florida election in which contests for governor and the U.S. Senate are still undecided.

Last week, Rubio tweeted: “Bay County was hit by a Cat 4 Hurricane just 4 weeks ago, yet managed to count votes & submit timely results. Yet over 41 hours after polls closed #Broward elections office is still counting votes?”

With lawyers descending on the state in what looks to some like a replay of the 2000 “hanging chad” presidential election, an automatic recount has been triggered for both contests.

With vote margins in the races for governor and Senate so tight, it is especially important that officials count every vote accurately. Unfortunately, Broward County does not have a strong track record of efficiency or accuracy.

Brenda Snipes, the supervisor of Elections in Broward County, has held her job for 15 years. Her history, to put it charitably, has been checkered. Last May, a judge ruled Snipes violated federal and state election laws when she destroyed ballots in the 2016 congressional race in which Tim Canova lost a Democratic primary contest to incumbent Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

In August, a judge ordered Snipes to stop opening mail-in ballots in secret. Snipes has engaged in other behavior that has raised concerns about her competence and nonpartisanship, including again in 20-16 when she “accidentally” posted election results 30 minutes before polls closed.

On Friday, Snipes’ office admitted processing—and counting—22 improperly cast ballots. They should have been void due to mismatched signatures and other violations. But Broward County sent them on to the Florida Secretary of State’s office anyway as part of a batch of 205 provisional ballots. Snipes’ office said she accidentally mixed the invalid ballots with valid ones after removing them from their envelopes.

Despite the mistake, Snipes recommended the ballots remain part of the overall tally because it would be unfair, quote—“to disenfranchise 205 voters at the expense of a small number.” She also noted the small number of invalid ballots wouldn’t change the overall outcome.

But that’s not the point. Free and fair elections are vital to the democratic process. If valid votes aren’t counted or invalid ones are, it undermines the whole system. Inaccurate counts will only fuel claims of vote rigging and election-stealing. And that will only deepen the partisan fissures dividing the country.

Florida’s recount process will be anything but pleasant. Snipes and others who are responsible for this dysfunctional, incompetent, and possibly criminal behavior should be replaced, the sooner the better for Florida and for the country.

For WORLD Radio, I’m Cal Thomas in Miami.

(AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee) An employee at the Broward County Supervisor of Elections office prepares to sort ballots before being counted, Monday, Nov. 12, 2018, in Lauderhill, Fla. 

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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