MICHAEL J. SATZ STATE ATTORNEY
SEVENTEENTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT OF FLORIDA BROWARD COUNTY COURTHOUSE
201 S.E. SIXTH STREET
FORT LAUDERDALE, FL 33301-3360 PHONE (954) 831-6955
MICHAEL J. SATZ STATE ATTORNEY
TIMOTHY L. DONNELL £
ASSISTANT STATE ATY IN CHARGE
SPECIAL PROSECUTIONS AND PUBLIC CORRUPTION UNIT
RE: ALLEGATION THAT EMPLOYEES OF THE SUPERVISOR OF ELECTIONS OFFICE FILLED OUT BLANK BALLOTS
DATE: NOVEMBER 4, 2016
On November 3, 2016, Deputy Chief Investigator Tim Bronson and I met with Chelsey Marie Smith and Attorney Robert Nichols. Ms. Smith provided to us an affidavit wherein she testified that she observed four employees at the Supervisor of Elections Office filling out blank ballots, on October 31, 2016, in a secured room identified as the Pitney-Bowes room. She indicated that she was employed through a temporary employment agency and was working full-time at the Broward County Supervisor of Elections main office in Lauderhill, Florida. Ms. Smith further indicated that she was terminated by the Elections Office on November 1, 2016, and was not told the reason for her termination.
On November 4, 2016, Deputy Chief Investigator Bronson, Assistant State Attorney Whitney Mackay, and I met with the Supervisor of Elections, Dr. Brenda Snipes, at the Supervisor of Elections Office. After discussing the complaint with Dr. Snipes, we toured the facility, which included inspecting the Pitney-Bowes room. We met with Canvassing Board Member Judge John Frey and spoke with Supervisor of Elections employee Mary Hall, who is in charge of Absentee Ballots.
Dr. Snipes acknowledged that it was entirely possible that Ms. Smith observed what she described in her affidavit. Florida Statute 101.5614(5)(a) states:
If any vote-by-mail ballot is physically damaged so that it cannot properly be counted by the automatic tabulating equipment, a true duplicate copy shall be made of the damaged ballot in the presence of witnesses and substituted for the damaged ballot. Likewise, a duplicate ballot shall be made of a vote-by-mail ballot containing an overvoted race or a marked vote-by-mail ballot in which every race undervoted which shall include all valid votes as determined by the canvassing board based on rules adopted by the division pursuant to s. 102.166(4). All duplicate ballots shall be clearly labeled "duplicate," bear a serial number which shall be recorded on the defective ballot, and be counted in lieu of the defective ballot. After a ballot has been duplicated, the defective ballot shall be placed in an envelope provided for that purpose, and the duplicate ballot shall be tallied with the other ballots for that precinct.
Dr. Snipes explained that military personnel who are stationed overseas fax their ballots to the Elections Office. Since the ballots are on fax paper and not the same size as the ballots that are tabulated by the machines, the statute allows a duplicate ballot to be made so that it can be tabulated by the automated machines. Federallaw allows military personnel overseas to fax their ballots to the Election Offic