October 25, 2016

More Broward ballots missing marijuana question, lawsuit alleges

Norm Kent


Hours after a Broward judge said she was ready to rule quickly on a case about ballots missing the medical marijuana amendment, a new wrinkle appeared Tuesday evening: Two more voters found Amendment 2 missing on their ballots.

NORML of Florida, a group that supports reforming marijuana laws, filed a new emergency motion Tuesday night asking the court to hold a rehearing in its lawsuit against Broward Supervisor of Elections Brenda Snipes.

The voters “are victims of the respondent’s failure to carry out her constitutional duties and face the prospect of being deprived of the right to vote on matters of great public concern,” attorney Russell Cormican wrote in a new motion.

Cormican works with Norm Kent, the attorney for NORML of Florida. They filed suit last week after elections officials verified that two Oakland Park voters received mail-in ballots that omitted Amendment 2, a statewide question about allowing the use of marijuana for medical reasons.

Cormican wrote in an emergency motion filed Tuesday evening that he had heard from two additional voters — Johnny Alexander and Cary Gandolfi, both from Plantation — who had received absentee ballots that lacked the amendment. He heard from those voters after his emergency hearing earlier in the day.

He wrote that Alexander contacted Snipes’ office about his ballot and was “treated in a dismissive manner and was told that he must be mistaken.”

Keep reading here.
Miami Herald photo by Carl Juste

October 24, 2016

Broward finds no more ballots missing marijuana question



As the counting of ballots started in Broward on Monday, election officials and backers of the statewide amendment had verified no additional ballots were missing the medical marijuana question.

Broward Supervisor of Elections Brenda Snipes allowed reporters and United for Care, a political committee backing Amendment 2, to observe the first 40 minutes of workers opening up the ballots at the elections warehouse in Lauderhill . They started with the Oakland Park ballots since the two verified reports of ballots missing the medical marijuana question came from that city.

After watching county officials examine the Oakland Park ballots, United for Care campaign manager Ben Pollara said that he had some additional confidence that the vast majority of voters in Broward received a complete ballot containing the medical marijuana question.

Keep reading here.

Miami Herald photo by José A. Iglesias


October 22, 2016

Hillary Clinton to campaign in Broward Tuesday



Hillary Clinton will campaign in Broward County Tuesday, the most left-leaning county in Florida.

She will hold an early voting rally at Broward College North Campus, 1000 Coconut Creek Boulevard, Coconut Creek at 2:15 p.m. Doors open to the public at 11:45 a.m. and the public can RSVP here. Clinton is scheduled to attend her final fundraiser in Florida Tuesday at the Pinecrest home of Chris Korge. Sen. Tim Kaine will hold a rally at Florida International University at 11:30 a.m. Monday -- the public can RSVP here.

Donald Trump also plans a swing through Florida starting Sunday night.

Early voting begins in Broward and Miami-Dade counties on Monday.

October 21, 2016

Broward Supervisor of Elections talks about ballot blunder on pot question



The Broward County elections office, already under scrutiny for two blunders in the past few weeks, played defense once more Friday as its supervisor came under fire after mail-in ballots turned up that skipped a constitutional amendment question on medical marijuana.

One of the organizations supporting the amendment, NORML of Florida, has asked for an emergency hearing after filing a lawsuit on what it called an error that could be “catastrophic and cataclysmic.” A Broward judge has scheduled a hearing for 10 a.m. Tuesday.

At a press conference Friday afternoon, Broward elections supervisor Brenda Snipes said her office had reviewed 92 different styles of ballots — voters get different ballots depending on where they live — and none were missing Amendment 2.

Keep reading here.

October 20, 2016

Lawsuit alleges some Broward ballots omitted pot question

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A marijuana-legalization group has sued the Broward County Supervisor of Elections, saying a statewide amendment on medical marijuana was omitted from some voters’ absentee ballots.

Norm Kent, acting on behalf of NORML of Florida, filed the lawsuit in Broward circuit court at 4:48 p.m. Thursday seeking an emergency hearing.

There is an “immiment danger that a significant portion of the voting public in Broward County, Florida, will be deprived of the opportunity to fully participate in the 2016 general election,” the lawsuit says.

Keep reading here.

Hastings leads black lawmakers on Broward blitz for Clinton, Murphy



Rep. Alcee Hastings is bringing a group of fellow African-American members of Congress to South Florida for a two-day push to help Hillary Clinton defeat Donald Trump in the key battleground state.

Hastings, a 12th-term congressman from Miramar, will be joined by Reps. Charlie Rangel and Hakeem Jeffries of New York, and by Sheila Jackson Lee and Al Green of Texas in a swing through Broward County.

Almost 30 percent of Broward residents are black, forming one of the state's largest African-American voting blocs and a hub of a critical demographic group for Clinton to win the nation's biggest swing state in the Nov. 8 presidential election.

"With the rhetoric that we've heard from the Republican ticket, there can be little doubt how dangerous a Trump presidency would be for our country," Hastings told the Miami Herald. "We are here, first and foremost, to rally the African-American community in South Florida to elect Hillary Clinton as president and Patrick Murphy as our next United States senator."

Murphy, a Democratic congressman from Jupiter, is running against Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Miami.

The congressional group's first stop was slated to be tonight at 7 p.m. to address a meeting of the Haitian American Democratic Club at Diecke Auditorium in Plantation.

Hastings and his Congressional Black Caucus colleagues had six events planned for Friday:

9 a.m., Breakfast at Betty's Soul Food Restaurant in Fort Lauderdale;

Noon, Visit the combined Clinton/Hastings campaign offices, 1033 NW Sixth Street, Fort Lauderdale;

12:55 p.m., Lunch at Ponderosa Soul Food Restaurant in Fort Lauderdale

1:40 p.m., Visit the headquarters of the Broward Democratic Executive Committee, 8320 W. Sunrise Boulevard, Plantation

3 p.m., Visit the Clinton campaign office, 3519 North Pineland Road, Sunrise;

4 p.m., Canvas homes on foot in Sunrise neighborhood around the Clinton campaign office.

Photo credit: Matias J. Ocner, Miami Herald




Broward GOP voter nixes idea for car race on election day


Republican voter Aaron Nevins has nixed his idea to hold a car race on a major Broward road on election day, an event he proposed because he said he didn't want to vote for Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton.

Nevins, who formerly worked for state Sen. Ellyn Bogdanoff, R-Fort Lauderdale and his the son of political blogger Buddy Nevins,  had sought to close a portion of U.S. 441 on Nov. 8th to hold an amateur car race. But it was clear that the Broward Sheriff's Office was not keen on his proposal and it looked unlikely he would get approval. Broward Supervisor of Elections Brenda Snipes vowed to fight any proposal to shut down a major road on election day.

Nevins said his proposal drew support as well as detractors.

"I had someone local contact me, they wanted to lend me their Tesla for the race.  I had someone out in Texas who wanted to bring a mustang in.  I had a sign company offer to donate barricades and such. Lots of people wanted a "minivan" circuit. 
There was support building, but also there was stiff opposition from the local leadership and a lawsuit in the horizon," he said. 
"I respect a lot of the local elected and appointed officials who reached out and asked me to reconsider. So in the spirit of cooperation with those officials, I decided to withdraw my notice at this time." 
Hat tip to @browardpolitics for reporting that Nevins' had withdrawn his proposal for a race.


October 19, 2016

Broward prosecutors won't charge anyone for early posting of election results

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Broward prosecutors announced Wednesday that no one will be criminally charged for posting election results before polls closed on primary night.

VR Systems, a contractor for the Broward Supervisor of Elections, took responsibility after results from early voting and absentee ballots were posted about 20 minutes before polls closed Aug. 30.

It is a felony to release results while voters are still casting ballots. However, assistant state attorney Timothy Donnelly concluded that while results were negligently posted early, there was no evidence that it was intentional.

“There is insufficient evidence that anyone purposely intended to post any election results prior to the closing of the polls, in violation of the criminal statutes...,” he wrote in a memo released Wednesday. “It is unfortunate that some results were reported early and other election results were delayed and reported late. Parties have promised to take measures to insure that this does not happen again.”

Keep reading here.


October 14, 2016

GOP voter seeks to close major Broward road on election day


A Republican voter in Broward wants to shut down a stretch of a major roadway on election day for an amateur road race because he is discouraged about his choices for president.

Aaron Nevins, a former aide to State Sen. Ellyn Bogdanoff and son of political blogger Buddy Nevins, sent a letter to the Broward Sheriff’s Office Thursday seek to close part of U.S. 441 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Nov. 8 (hat tip Sun Sentinel).

“The major candidates aren’t very compelling -- I’d like to do something else that day,” said Nevins who said he won’t vote for Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton. “I’m the type of person who normally would be at the polls, go in and advocate usually for a Republican candidate. Right now I don’t think that’s exciting so I’d rather spend the day racing.”

While BSO didn't deny Nevins' request, the agency has sought so much additional information from Nevins that it appears it would be tough for him to pull it off.

Broward Supervisor of Elections Brenda Snipes denounced the proposal to close part of the busy thoroughfare on election day.

“I will do everything I can to stop it,” she said.

Nevins wants to close a 1.5-mile portion of 441 north of State Road 84. The stretch is in unincorporated Broward and goes through part of Broward’s black community -- a key voting bloc for Democrats.

From Nevins’ press release:

"Today we mailed by certified letter a notification to Sheriff Israel of our intent to host this race, which is the right of any Floridian under the law,” said Aaron Nevins, president of Painted Dog Productions.  “I look forward to working with Sheriff Israel pursuant to his duties under Florida Statute 549.02 to ensure the safety of our community as we shut down 441 and Davie Blvd. Extension for this race."

Florida Statute 549.01, enacted in 1905, gives all Floridians the right to notify the sheriff of their intent to host a race. sheriff allowed to charge $2 per deputy, per day to have deputies to assist us.

“Florida Law says it is our duty to notify the sheriff and we have fulfilled our requirements under the law to host this race.” said Nevins. "I look forward to working with the sheriff to take reasonable steps necessary to protect the public during this race."

The race will last from 7:00am to 7:00 PM on Election Day, November 8, 2016 and will likely result in the closure of Davie Blvd Extension, as well as 441 in both directions.

A BSO lawyer sent back a response to Nevins Friday afternoon seeking more than one dozen pieces of additional information including a diagram of the course, a list of participants, a crowd control plan and a copy of permits.

Nevins said that he chose 441 because it is in unincorporated Broward. A separate statute allows cities to regulate such races within their jurisdictions and it has more stringent criteria that Nevins said he couldn’t meet.

He denied that the road closure will block voters’ access.

“There is plenty of opportunities for people to vote,” said Nevins, who plans to vote by mail or at an early site. “My goal is to go out on election day and have a fun time. I don’t think this is going really block people.”

Painted Dog Productions is a company Nevins formed that hasn’t previously done anything. Nevins works as a political consultant for local races in the state.

For the record, he drives a black Honda CRV.

October 06, 2016

Broward emergency center's AC went down for hours before Hurricane Matthew


Think that the Broward Emergency Operations Center would be the coolest, most comfortable building to await the storm? Think again.

At about 7 a.m., the air conditioning chiller went out in the center in Plantation. It took the contractors a couple of hours to get to the center.

A lizard was found in a chiller but Broward Mayor Marty Kiar would not pin the blame with certainty on the animal.

“It was a gecko -- that was not necessarily the reason the AC went down,” Kiar said.

The rest of the equipment -- such as computers -- are fully functional so the lack of AC doesn’t affect the ability of the county to help the public, Kiar said.

Shortly before 11 a.m., Kiar said that the county's public works director Tom Hutka told him that the AC had been fixed.

"We should be fine going forward," Kiar said.

It must be coming back slowly however because it still feels very steamy inside.

Emergency director Miguel Ascarrunz said that a generator can't rectify the chiller situation.

"It's the chiller that went kaput," he said.

The EOC is the main building where about 300 workers from the county and cities prepare for and respond to the storm.

This post has been updated