Update: Talk Of Appointed Elections Supervisor Prompts Snipes To Seek New Term





Elections Supervisor Brenda Snipes announced she was running for re-election 24 hours after the post below appeared on Browardbeat.com.

She said that the post prompted her decision, according to the Sun-Sentinel.

Snipes is quoted by Brittany Wallman in the Sun-Sentinel as stating: “I just feel strongly that this is a position for the people. I think it should be elected…”

Democratic activist Sean Phillippi wrote in Browardbeat.com that a county commissioner, who he didn’t name, would soon propose appointing rather than electing future election supervisors.  He supported the idea. He said that Snipes announced candidacy for re-election “doesn’t change anything” and the proposal would still be debated.

Snipes announcement ended speculation that there 72-year-old elections chief, appointed in 2002 by Gov. Jeb Bush, would be retiring. Bush appointed Snipes after removing former Supervisor Miriam Oliphant for incompetence.

At least one candidate — David Brown, a campaign consultant and marketing executive who lost the supervisors race to Oliphant in 2000 — is still considering running against Snipes for the Democratic nomination.

The previous post which triggered Snipes’ decision is here:





sean phillippi 2

The best public policy is that which transcends time. Legislating for one particular point in time is often necessary, but ideal legislation comes when one can honestly say that the policy they are advocating will be the best course of action in 100 years when we are all long gone. Having consistent, universal principles aids in that effort.

I have always believed that the Supervisor of Elections (SOE) positions in Florida should be an appointed and not elected. A Broward County Commissioner is planning on bringing forward an agenda item before their summer break to try and put that exact issue on the ballot in 2016.

The main inescapable principle behind why we should not elect our SOE is this: No one should be in charge of running their own election.

The SOE has their name on all election materials produced by their office. I once even saw the SOE on a video loop doing a PSA inside of my polling location during an election, which had the SOE on the ballot. Outreach is a key component of what a good SOE should be doing, but the inherent conflict of a SOE using tax dollars to promote voting and elections when they are on the ballot is unavoidable. That doesn’t even get into the issues of the SOE being in charge of tabulating their own election results and being in charge of all elections staff.

The exact fiscal impact of this proposed move is unknown. The impact will be required to be put on the ballot, but by all accounts the savings to the taxpayers will be significant.

Another major issue is the timing of the election. The SOE is elected during the Presidential Election Cycle, so an incumbent is forced to run for re-election during the busiest four months they face every four years.

Running a Presidential Election, while having to run a separate Primary Election roughly 10 weeks earlier, would be a monumental undertaking for anyone to oversee. Forcing someone to run for office while doing that is a disservice to both any incumbent SOE and to the voters. The SOE should focus 100% of their time on doing their job so that we are never again the laughingstock of the world like we were back in 2000.

One thing that makes the SOE unique, and fit to be moved to an appointed position, is the fact that it is a completely administrative job.

The Sheriff makes policy decisions such as Sheriff Israel’s successful civil citation program with regards to juveniles.

The Property Appraiser makes decisions that affect the amount of revenue collected by Broward County. The Property Appraiser, unlike every other Constitution Officer, has the Florida Department of Revenue as the arbiter of their budget despite the fact that the County funds it.

The Supervisor of Elections budget is already approved by the County and paid for through County coffers.

I would be hesitant to support this change to an appointed SOE if the County Commission could make this move unilaterally. It can’t. All it can do, with 6 votes out of 9 commissioners, is put it on the ballot for voters to decide.

The question of how the SOE is to be appointed is vital to this conversation. Keeping politics out of the running of elections is another universal principle that most people agree with. The County Commission is, by design, a partisan political body. The proposal that will likely be brought forward soon will, wisely, have the County Administrator (currently Bertha Henry) appoint the SOE and not the County Commission.

The County Charter forbids every County Commissioner from interfering with any employment decision outside of the County Administrator, County Auditor, County Attorney, and their personal office staff. The County Administrator oversees several departments with budgets bigger than that of the SOE. Entrusting the administrator with appointing the SOE would make the position as apolitical as possible while at the same time giving voters recourse should issues arise.

If the agenda item passes, it will be put on the ballot during the March Presidential Primary next year. If the voters approve the measure in March, it would negate the SOE election next year and become effective at the end of the current term of the sitting SOE.

Some might see this as an attack on or an indictment of Dr. Brenda Snipes, the current SOE. It has nothing to do with her.

The logic and reasoning above is independent of Dr. Snipes. Less than 8% of all registered voters cast a ballot in the last Democratic Primary, which is almost always the decisive election for countywide partisan offices in Broward, for SOE. The County Commission should approve the agenda item when it comes before them and give all voters a voice on whether they want to keep the SOE as an elected position or save a significant amount of money by having it be appointed.


(Sean Phillippi is a Democratic consultant based in Broward County who has worked on local, state, and federal campaigns. He also served as an Aide to Broward County Commissioner, and current Mayor, Tim Ryan from 2012-2014.) 


18 Responses to “Update: Talk Of Appointed Elections Supervisor Prompts Snipes To Seek New Term”

  1. Harold says:

    Sean Phillippi forgot the most important portion of the equation, which is that the SOE has been seen as an “African American” position since Oliphant in 2000. No Democrat is going to take this away from their major constituency, African Americans.
    EXCEPT Bertha Henry is African American. If she will be appointing the new SOE this defuses that objection so the timing is right.

  2. City Activist Robert Walsh says:

    In a nut-shell no way. I mean I can say what I want about current SOE Supervisor Dr.Snipes , but she won that postion fair and square. To have the county comm. decide who is the SOE is over-stepping their boundariers. Besides why would they want to take on that task to begin with. Also the County wants to mess w/ the OIG Office. They want to sit on these selection commitees again when they know damn well the residents voted don’t want them on selection committees etc. So any changes have to go before the voters. It isn’t about well if we get five(5) , we got the jive(prevail). Again the residents voted overwhelmingl;y to keep them off selection committes etc. They also could face a law-suit if they tamper w/ the ethics laws etc(hint). Bottom line the comm. doesn’t have to decide who gets what($),and what vendors etc($) get the contract etc……

  3. N. P. Gradberg says:

    The last two supervisors are the reason we need a professional supervisor appointed by the county manager. the one elected in 2000 was so bad she was removed from office. The current one is on autopilot and consequently we had long lines and screw ups.
    Police chiefs are appointed in most cities and are on call 24/7. So are fire chiefs. If it is good enough for them, it is good enough for someone who has a job to do a few times a year.

  4. Carlos Grande says:

    Who is the pic of? Is it a man or a woman? It s hard to tell.

  5. Forward March says:

    Makes more sense if coupled with a strong mayor elected at large and then we can also add clerk of court to that list of appointed. There needs to be a single point of accountability.

  6. Andrew Ladanowski says:

    I can safely say, Dr. Snipes needs to go. She has clearly demonstrated her inability to run the office. Any manager at Walmart knows when one cashier gets too busy you simply equitably spread out the customers over multiple cash registers. Simple concept. Dr. Snipes didn’t apply this simple concept. During the Nov 2012 election we had some precincts with more staff then voters, and some precincts with over 4000 voters registered. She blamed long ballots and came up with numerous excuses and did not acknowledge any short comings. Dr. Snipes had not updated her precincts since she was appointed. Some precincts had no lines, some had lines of more than 4 hours on election day. All the campaign managers knew where the long lines were going to be. She was the only one in the dark. She was the last person in Broward county that knew Scott Rothstein wasa convicted felon and should have been removed from the voter registration. Sloppiness was even more apparent recently when her office posted Scott Israel’s candidate username and password for his campaign account online.

    Internal emails show Dr. Snipes Snipes scolds employees for not showing up to work at all. “I have noticed several staff members who are not adhering to the daily work schedule,” Snipes wrote. “If you need to be out of the office you will need to use sick leave or the annual leave request process.” Incredibly, Snipes claims workers may still get paid even if they do not show up for work. She wrote, “Other time out of the office will be documented as leave without pay when a pattern of behavior is evident.” posted by Redbroward.com (I did verify independently and appears to be truthful.)
    I actually am more disappointed in the voter’s apathy and lack of potential candidates in Broward running for the SOE. We did not have a viable candidate in 2012 to run against Dr. Snipes.
    This interest by the county commissioners is concerning, by having an referendum on the matter, so close to the election it will narrow down the field of viable candidates due to the uncertainty. The public may interpret the referendum as being a non-confidence vote for Dr. Snipes, and not a referendum. The referendum would easily pass, for the wrong reason.
    Not sure why Broward commissioners are only interested in this one Constitutional office being appointed out of the 4 positions. Similar arguments could be made for any of them to be appointed.
    We need one elected official to be held directly accountable to the tax payers when an election process is unsuccessful. We need to encourage more people to be actively involved in the democratic process.

  7. Just Saying says:

    Having this on a March 2016 primary ballot is a terrible idea for Broward Democrats. There will be a highly competitive Republican primary, but a boring cakewalk for Hillary on the Democratic side. That means this issue would be decided by Broward’s minority of Republicans. What a terrible idea. Just wait and let it go through Charter Revision (isn’t that coming up soon?).

  8. Non-Partisan and Independent says:

    Let’s make all constitutional positions and the county commission non-partisan. Lets not “cherry pick” but ensure all of our countywide officials are truly independent and non-partisan!

  9. You people don't get it says:

    Stacy Ritter needs an appointed position asap. Despite efforts in 2014, Nicki Grossman is not leaving so Ritter needs to focus on another appointed position because she is to scared to run county wide. She knows, fair or not, she will suffer the same fate as Lieberman when she ran countywide. Russ had to have taken a hit losing the ability to lobby the County Commission. Those in the know, know full well what this is about.

  10. Talks like a politician says:

    Asking Broward County to appoint a SOE is like hiring the fox to watch the hen house. Political loyalties and the roots of corruption run so deep that and elected SOE or an appointed one would be equally tainted.
    I just read that Brenda Snipes is running again. There has got to be a way to find a non-biased, competent person to run the elections in Broward County. Back to the drawing board!

  11. Bruce Jenner says:

    Mr. Grande I am shocked and appealed at your comment.

  12. just sayin says:

    Snipes needs to go. Did you look at that other article on Broward Beat? She’s been ripping off taxpayers for years with a salary and pension. Shame on her!

  13. Alice McGill says:

    @ #9
    It is time for Stacy Ritter to get a real job and stop feeding at that public trough. Oink!

  14. Rosylind Maxwell Douglas says:

    Stalwart Broward Judge Refusing to be Strong-armed

    Posted on April 24, 2015 by Chris Leggatt
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    No one seems to dispute that the felony case backlog in Broward has been steadily reduced since Judge Contini was assigned to the division. This is primarily due to his aggressive work ethic where cases are heard rather than delayed, orders and rulings are made promptly, and both prosecutors and defense attorneys are expected to fulfill their responsibilities to their respective clients. However this formula does not appear to sit well with some who prefer the so-called “good ol’ days” of the Broward Judiciary.

    Putting into practice the axiom that justice delayed is justice denied, Judge Contini has regularly engaged theCandidate Contini State and Defense Attorneys in his court to find ways to move cases in a way that protects both the public and the defendants. Significant in these discussions is the court’s insistence that both parties explicitly review and make a part of the court record their respective positions on sentencing criteria for each and every defendant preserving both the State’s and the defense’s complete record for potential appeal.

    While at mandatory Judicial College where the subject of sentencing was being discussed, and as a continuation to ongoing side-bar discussions, Judge Contini sent an email to an Assistant Public Defender presenting a possible template for “perfecting motions for downward departure sentencing, if appropriate” that was provided by a fellow Judge.

    Though the email discussed no specific cases on the circuit’s docket, it did offer a possible model for the Court to hear sentencing recommendations and make decisions on the merits of each case. Florida Statute 921.0026(2) offers the Court, State and defense attorneys reasons for departure from the guidelines. Judge Contini asserted to both sides in open court and during several side bars that according to case law and statutory language the list of reasons offered to go below the guidelines is not necessarily limited to the list found in Florida Statute 921.0026(2). Contini has asked the lawyers that come before him to use their legal minds to provide the Court with more imaginative reasons to break up the traffic jam that has choked his division.

    “He discerns the difference between violent and non violent offenders.” According to lawyer Ramona Tolley who recently appeared before Judge Contini. She continued, “He prefers to make use of the various programs available in Broward County when a case merits a more compassionate or appropriate sentence.” Records reviewed by Daily Broward staff indicate that Contini has granted the State’s objections to guideline downward departures on approximately 50% of the motions heard so far. The results of our reviews contradict any suggestion of a lack of impartiality by Judge Contini.

    BrowardSA-MichaelSatzIn a surprising decision, the Broward County’s State Attorney’s office, because they were not copied on the email, has moved to disqualify Judge Contini from all criminal cases, requesting that he recuse himself from all criminal cases in his division. Contini refused to be strong-armed into agreeing to these disqualification requests. In the opinion of one legal expert, “The State Attorney’s office is being a little disingenuous; how would Judge Contini know which state attorney to send it to when no case was referenced? I suppose he could post it and send it to every state attorney in Broward but that seems a little ridiculous. It’s silly!”A separate issue being discussed in the Court house by various defense attorneys is why other judges who appeared to show partiality to the State (where the 4th DCA ruled that this partiality existed) have avoided motions for disqualification or writs of prohibition, which the Attorney General has demanded in Contini’s matter.

    Since he took the bench in January, 2015, the record of case dispositions shows a remarkable even handedness in Judge Contini’s sentencing. Furthermore in many cases, Judge Contini has granted the State and defense attorney’s request for alternative sentencing generally giving nonviolent defendants a chance for rehabilitation.

    Public Defender Howard Finkelstein stated “We’ve had some real problems with the Broward judiciary, this is not even a ripple in the ocean of problems that we’ve had, yet this is the first time we hear from the State Attorney’s Office. This is much ado about nothing! A tempest in a teapot!”

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  15. Bob Adams says:

    Rosylind Maxwell Douglas, what does any of the above have to do with Dr. Snipes running for re-election?

  16. One Who Knows says:

    The post by Sean Phillippi prompted Brenda Snipes to decide to run again?? That’s the biggest load of bull that she has heaped on Broward County yet! She has always planned to run; just likes to keep it secret until the last minute to hamper potential opponents. Picture it… Brenda Snipes rides in on her white horse to save Broward County’s democracy… WHAT A FARCE!

  17. Ha Ha Ha says:

    Post #14 (above) comes from the Republican website DailyBroward.com, run by two members of the Broward County Republican Executive Committee (Chris Leggatt and Tom Lauder)…


    Contini has a long pre-election history of pandering to right-wing extremists by persecuting video rental stores for offering adult videos to their customers, etc…


  18. Examining Contini says:

    The Daily Broward guys are choir boys compared to the other questionable characters surrounding Judge Contini considering that his campaign was run by

    Bill Lewis who did time in federal prison



    Disbarred lawyer Lee Cohn