Candidate Seeks Criminal Charges for Florida Election Supervisor Brenda Snipes
Fearing that a mere resignation is no deterrent to what a court ruled was clearly illegal behavior involving criminal penalties, according to federal law, a Florida congressional candidate and law professor is not satisfied with the sudden resignation - under fire - of Broward County election supervisor Brenda Snipes. Snipes announced her resignation last Sunday after withering criticism of her role in recent Florida election recount fiascos, from which evidence is still emerging of other illegal conduct. The candidate, Tim Canova, has called for criminal investigation and prosecution.
Canova wrote at his campaign Facebook on the day she resigned:
"The public and the interests of justice demands criminal investigations and prosecutions,"
Snipes has taken a casual attitude toward her resignation, leaving the door open to running for re-election as election supervisor in 2020 after she "check[s] with her family," saying after the recent fiascos that it "may be time to move on."
In 2017, a state judge awarded Canova, a Florida law professor, a summary judgement against Snipes for destroying all the paper ballots in his election, after Canova had sued for them for a recount. Canova had challenged incumbent Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz in the 2016 Democratic primary. Canova sued for inspection of the ballots in June of 2017 after Snipes ignored a Freedom of Information request for the ballots. The following November, at the first hearing in the civil suit against Snipes and Broward County, Snipes admitted that she had ordered the ballots destroyed in September, two months before the hearing, and two months after the Freedom of Information request had been submitted.
Federal law 52 USC 20701 mandates that all paper ballots in any congressional election be preserved for at least 22 months, on pain of "not more than $1,000" or imprisonment "for up to one year," or both.
Canova wanted to inspect the ballots after statisticians discovered suspicious voting patterns possibly indicative of vote-counting machine hacking. Canova lost his race to Wasserman-Schultz 43% - 56%.
Snipes' defense was that she had destroyed the ballots by accident. However, Judge Raag Singhal of the 17th Judicial Circuit Court for Broward County, held in his ruling that:
"defendant's lack of intent to destroy evidence while this case was pending is irrelevant."
Singhal affirmed that there was no question of fact that Snipes had engaged in a violation of federal statute 52 USC 20701. Singhal wrote in his ruling:
"summary judgement should not be granted unless the facts are so crystallized there is nothing left but questions of law."
Snipes is an open supporter of Wasserman-Schultz. She was photographed campaigning with her in Wasserman-Schultz's most recent 2018 race for re-election, again against Canova, who ran as an independent this time, and one other candidate, a Republican. Wasserman-Schultz is the former chair of the Democratic National Committee who was forced to resign after Wikileaks published emails showing that she was committed to arranging for the nomination of Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders, in the 2016 Democratic primary. This was in violation of DNC bylaws Article 5, Section 4 requiring the chair to remain neutral in primaries.
That controversy is the subject of an ongoing lawsuit against the DNC in which a pro-Sanders activist and process server, Shawn Lucas, was found dead under mysterious circumstances. Lucas, never known as a hard drug user, was found dead of an overdose of the powerful opiate fentanyl, just weeks after he made a viral video of himself serving the DNC with the lawsuit. One of the attorneys in the lawsuit, Elizabeth Beck, soon after gave an interview in which she tearfully broke down, describing threats and fear for her life.
Canova has repeatedly asked law enforcement to follow up on the findings of fact in Judge Singhal's courtroom, writing at his campaign website:
"I reached out to Florida Governor Rick Scott months ago, as well as Democratic and Republican party officials, state and federal law enforcement agencies, and every member of the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate. None responded, no one saw fit to investigate,"
Running against Wasserman-Schultz as an independent this year, official polling results had Canova at 5%, a result Canova does not believe. Canova is suggesting that all of Florida's primary and general elections affected by Broward County should be put to a re-vote, because:
"There is no rational reason to trust the election results here in Broward County, where the elections office is literally a criminal enterprise acting with impunity."
"Snipes and her top staff should have been prosecuted months ago. Allowing someone with her record of lawlessness to continue supervising the recent primary and general election taints all those results by creating “incurable uncertainties” about the election outcomes."
Last Sunday Snipes announced that it was perhaps time to "move on," but even so, left the door open to her running for re-election in 2020. Election observers are astonished. They write:
It's not over until she is indicted and prosecuted. If not she walks away laughing at all of us! #IndictSnipes— Ron (@Bubbaluvspng) November 19, 2018
A petition for the firing and indictment of Snipes was started months ago, and has over 2,100 signatures. Addressed to the US Attorney for Florida Benjamin Greenberg, the petition states:
"we are demanding criminal investigations to be initiated. Based also on the aforementioned court case, from evidence produced, revealing the real likelihood of criminal intent and actions...The actions of Brenda Snipes should be followed up with appropriate Legal Consequences, to act as a deterrent, and offer safeguards to future elections."
Most recently Snipes missed a 3pm deadline last Thursday for submitting the results of machine recounts of Florida's US senator and its gubernatorial elections. Before that, the margin of the presumed victor, Republican Rick Scott, was eroding. It is speculated that rather than risk the results falling, this time, within the .25 percent margin which would trigger a by-hand, paper ballot recount, it was decided to go with the original results. The motivation would have been to avoid examination of the paper ballots at any cost.
In August of 2018, Snipes was sued by a worker's union, backed by the ACLU, for maintaining voter rolls with implausibly high registration rates of 100% of the population, which would allow election fraud of a high magnitude, by making it easier to find unqualified votes as needed.
On general election day this year, a Tim Canova supporter reported hearing a purported visiting election worker ask if there was "enough literature" for Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz at the polling station. Campaign literature is banned within all polling stations in the U.S. Canova tweeted:
Election Day Corruption: After Wasserman Schultz campaigns with disgraced Election Supervisor, this woman arrives to polling site, identifies herself as working for the Elections Department and asks if they have enough literature for Wasserman Schultz. We’ve called our lawyers. pic.twitter.com/J3SVLjzK5G
— Tim Canova (@Tim_Canova) November 6, 2018
Canova has said Snipes is on a "crime spree." Election transparency activists who spend their time advocating for the most transparent, verifiable election system for the US note that one other principle is crucial to uphold: accountability. The best designed system collapses when officials can thumb their noses at it and ignore the law with impunity. At the organization BlackBoxVoting.org, founded by election transparency pioneer Bev Harris, a description of the principle states:
"accountability means answerability to the public and the obligation to report, explain and be held responsible for consequences of decisions."