The fallout over Florida’s turbulent recount is escalating after the state’s outgoing Republican governor decided to oust a South Florida elections official.
Gov. Rick Scott late Friday suspended embattled Broward County Supervisor of Elections Brenda Snipes even though Snipes had already agreed to step down from her post in early January. Scott replaced Snipes with his former general counsel even though Peter Antonacci has no elections experience.
Snipes responded by rescinding her previous resignation — and will now be “fighting this to the very end,” her attorney said during a Saturday news conference.
“We believe these actions are malicious,” said Burnadette Norris-Weeks, who said that Broward County voters should be concerned about what Scott is trying to do in the Democratic stronghold by putting in an ally who could oversee the office into the 2020 elections.
Snipes has been the top elections official in the south Florida county since 2003 when then-Gov. Jeb Bush appointed her. She came under withering criticism for her handling of this year’s elections, as well as its legally required recount in close races for governor and U.S. Senate. She had been elected three times and her current term was not scheduled to end until 2020.
In his executive order, Scott said he was suspending Snipes due to misfeasance, incompetence and neglect of duty. His order cited problems during the recount, including reports of more than 2,000 ballots being misplaced. She also came under fire in 2017 after she destroyed year-old ballots in violation of law. Shortly after the recount started, Scott himself suggested possible fraud, but never offered any concrete examples.
“After a series of inexcusable actions, it’s clear that there needs to be an immediate change in Broward County and taxpayers should no longer be burdened by paying a salary for a supervisor of elections who has already announced resignation,” Scott said in a statement.