Brenda Snipes defends office in federal court amid lawsuit

Broward County elections supervisor accused of letting ineligible voters vote

MIAMI – Broward County supervisor of elections Brenda Snipes appeared in federal court Monday in Miami to face allegations that her office isn't doing enough to purge ineligible voters.

Snipes defended herself against a lawsuit filed on behalf of Broward County voter Andrea Bellitto and the American Civil Rights Union, a Virginia-based nonprofit that "promotes election integrity, compliance with federal election laws, government transparency and constitutional government."

"Sure, you're going to have mistakes," Snipes said. "The worst thing in the world would be if you don't take immediate action to correct it."

The lawsuit seeks a declaratory judgment and injunctive relief requiring Snipes "to conduct and execute reasonable voter list maintenance programs to ensure that only registered eligible voters are registered to vote" in Broward County.

According to the lawsuit, Snipes "has been given reliable information regarding registered voters who have either died or no longer reside at the address listed in their registration and has taken no action to remove them" as required by Florida law.

The lawsuit claims that at one point, there were more people on the rolls than were even possible in the population. 

Snipes "is responsible for allowing this circumstance to occur and persist," the lawsuit alleges.

"There are inactive voters by law that have to stay on for a certain period time until those people are allowed to be removed, and it's a statutory requirement," Snipes' attorney, Burnadette Norris-Weeks, told Local 10 News. "So anyone who would make a claim like that really doesn't understand the Florida law and what's required for list maintenance efforts."

The lawsuit claims that Bellitto, who is a member of the American Civil Rights Union, is harmed by Snipes' failure to remove ineligible voters from the county's voter list, placing Bellitto's vote "at risk of dilution by the casting of a ballot by an ineligible registrant."

Democrats In Broward County, Florida's most Democratic county, have called the lawsuit and President Donald Trump's commission an effort to suppress the vote.

Snipes detailed her office's voter purge process on the stand.

"There are no perfect elections," Norris-Weeks said. "You're dealing with a ton of paper in Florida, and (there is) just no way to have a 100 percent, no-mistake effort by any supervisor at any point in time in this state." 

About the Authors:

Glenna Milberg joined Local 10 News in September 1999 to report on South Florida's top stories and community issues. She also serves as co-host on Local 10's public affairs broadcast, "This Week in South Florida."