Our investigation into the results of the race between Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Tim Canova in Broward County found almost 1000 more cast ballots than voters who voted, and led to the discovery that the original ballots had been destroyed. That investigation is being covered by Politico and the Christian Science Monitor. The Secretary of State of Florida has requested more information about what happened.
Here is background information on the investigation:
In November of 2016, journalist and documentary filmmaker Lulu Friesdat filed two public records requests with the Broward County Supervisor of Elections (BCSOE) office requesting documents from the August 30th primary election, in the race between Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Tim Canova.
One request was for “an electronic copy of all Ballot Image Files generated by all scanners used by Broward County to count the vote from the August 30, 2016 Primary Election…” and one was a much more comprehensive request list that included a videotaped 100% hand recount of 12 precincts, as well as sign-in books to verify the number of voters that voted, chain of custody documentation, invoices for ballots, blank ballots, communications and contracts with the Broward County voting machine vendor ES&S, and documents from BCSOE’s Election Management System.
Ms. Friesdat was interested in these records because of a statistical analysis that her team had done indicating there were inconsistencies in the results of the election.
The county did not fulfill the public records requests, responding that they did not capture ballot image files, and don’t utilize poll books. The office was unwilling to have a ballot inspection video taped or photographed.
Ms. Friesdat was joined in her quest for these documents by Tim Canova, one of the candidates in the race; and on March 10, 2017 they filed a third public records request on the advice of Canova’s attorney Leonard Collins. That request, public records request #2077, was to view and scan original ballots from the election and for supporting documents. BCSOE office did not provide many of the documents in this public records request, and on June 7th Canova filed a lawsuit against the office. Ms. Friesdat is an expert witness in that lawsuit.
Due to the lawsuit, Ms. Friesdat was allowed to schedule an inspection of the original ballots for November 1st and 2nd 2017. When she arrived at the Voting Equipment Center in Broward County she was informed that no original ballots were available, and staff at the BCSOE office instead showed her digital scans of the ballots. Previously they claimed no digital ballot images were captured.
In court on November 6th, the attorney for the BCSOE office stated that the county had destroyed the original ballots after 12 months, despite federal retention laws requiring that federal ballot be kept for 22 months. The Supervisor of Elections Brenda Snipes, personally signed off on the order to destroy the ballots stating, “I hereby certify that the records to be disposed of are correctly represented below, that any audit requirements for the records have been fully justified, and that further retention Is not required for any litigation pending or imminent.” When the ballots were destroyed on September 1st, 2017, litigation was pending.
Analysis by Ms. Friesdat’s team shows that there are almost 1000 more cast ballots in the election than voters who voted. These discrepancies cannot be reconciled now, since the original ballots in the race have been destroyed.