Brenda Snipes refused to say how many votes remained to be counted in Broward County during the midterm election. She “mistakenly” included 22 absentee ballots that are considered illegal because the signatures on them don’t match the signatures in voting records.
She failed to upload all the in-person early votes and available absentee ballot vote totals by 7 p.m. on the day before the election, as required by Florida law. After failing to meet numerous deadlines that her office update vote tallies every 45 minutes, she uploaded tens of thousands of votes from the heavily Democrat county in the overnight hours.
She brought down the margin of victory for Rick Scott in the Florida U.S. Senate race from 78,000 to fewer than 10,000 at one point. Then, when the final tally of votes finally became available and revealed Scott actually gained votes from the late-counted ballots, she allowed submission of the new vote totals to miss the deadline by two minutes, which meant the original totals – with a lower margin of victory for Scott – had to be used.
But the lawsuit filed by Scott, the calls from both parties for her to step down and the long record of other problems – she left a medical marijuana initiative off some voter forms and illegally reported results before the polls closed during the 2016 election – are not what drove Snipes from office.
According to a story on NBC News, it was racism.
In “How Brenda Snipes and other black election workers got falsely targeted by Trump,” Janell Ross, a reporter for NBC BLK who writes about race, politics and social issues, according to her tagline, explained.
“The narrative often coming from [President] Trump’s public statements paints election administrators like Snipes and poll workers as un-American, and U.S. elections in general as a coming together of crooks and nincompoops,” she wrote.
She then quoted Carol Anderson, a professor African-American studies at Emory University and author of the book “One Person, No Vote: How Voter Suppression is Destroying our Democracy.”
“What is going on, all these unfortunate days after Election Day, is the counting of provisional absentee and mail-in ballots and those cast on Election Day, which by law are all supposed to be counted,” Anderson is quoted as saying. “What you see Trump and Rick Scott and other Republicans doing here is counting on the power of racism to serve as fact. Racism serves to erase actual fact and to pollute reality.”
This is an old strategy dusted off for modern times, Ross wrote. “’Trump has simply borrowed from a playbook dating back to the period just after the Civil War,’ Anderson said, referring to a time when black voter involvement in elections began to be described as inherently likely to produce fraudulent outcomes. White Democrats, mostly in the South, often described black Americans as ill-suited to participate in democracy.”
This “set of tactics and ideas” have been “renewed with gusto,” Ross wrote. “Since 2000, Republicans have embraced the same notions, claiming that voter ID and other measures which tend to restrict minority voter access must be in place to conduct secure elections.”
None of this could have resulted from chicanery or incompetence on Snipes’ part, Ross asserted, because she “hails from Alabama, home of the Edmund Pettus Bridge, site of a 1965 clash during which state officials beat and seriously injured African-Americans marching for voting rights to severely it is known as ‘Bloody Sunday.’” For someone like Snipes, her pastor told Ross, “that experience is close, almost intimately understood. Voting is almost sacred.”
Snipes is not a human being to Trump so much as “two of the things [he] loves most, a foil and a useful distraction.”
She quotes Anderson again: “’What Snipes is to Trump is this ‘character,’ a black woman in charge of overseeing an election in which there have clearly been some problems. But you will notice he’s not pointed to anything specific and perhaps legitimate.’”