November 03, 2016

Broward prosecutors open election fraud hotline

Broward State Attorney Mike Satz has opened an election fraud hotline for residents to report potential crimes through Tuesday.

This is the first time Satz, a Democrat in Florida's most left-leaning county, has opened such a hotline. The Florida Division of Elections also has a hotline.

Residents with first-hand knowledge are asked to provide the date, time, place and specific circumstances.

“It is important in this and every election that voters feel comfortable knowing that their vote counts, and that the election process is beyond reproach,” Satz said in a press release. “We hope that those who have first-hand knowledge of any potentially criminal voter fraud will contact us or local police.”

The Broward hotline number is 954-831-7487. The state hotline is 1-877-Voterfraud.

October 31, 2016

PolitiFact: No proof that Hillary Clinton and Broward Supervisor of Elections Brenda Snipes met



As early voters in Florida started casting votes, conservative websites buzzed about new evidence of crooked campaign tactics by Hillary Clinton to secure the crucial battleground state.

The alleged scheme centered on left-leaning Broward County, already in the news for distributing some mail-in ballots without Amendment 2, a proposal to legalize medical marijuana.

The claims originated from Roger Stone, a Donald Trump supporter and former campaign operative who talked of a "secret" meeting in an interview to conspiracy theorist and radio show host Alex Jones on Oct. 26.

"Yesterday Hillary Clinton shows up in Broward County — slips into a private meeting with the woman who runs the board of elections," said Stone, who lives in Fort Lauderdale.

It’s common for election supervisors to meet with party officials if they have questions about election procedures. But a meeting directly with a presidential candidate would be unusual. Broward has about 600,000 Democratic voters — the highest number in Florida — so it is a key county for Clinton.

Jones has millions of followers. The claim about Clinton secretly meeting with Brenda Snipes took off on social media, and some suggested that it was part of a voter fraud scheme.

We found no evidence that such a meeting took place — because it didn’t.

Within days, Stone retracted his claim. (A retraction doesn’t allow a political figure to avoid the Truth-O-Meter, but we will explain what he initially said and then his latest explanation.)

Miami Herald photo by Carl Juste

October 30, 2016

Hillary Clinton vows to fight for underdogs in South Florida



Hillary Clinton campaigned before African-American and LGBTQ voters in Broward County Sunday, two reliable Democratic voting blocs.

Her overall message to an African-American church in Fort Lauderdale and a gay club in Wilton Manors was the same: she will fight against discrimination while she accused Donald Trump of stoking it.

“Donald Trump has insulted more than half our population,” she said at the Manors Complex club, listing African Americans, Latinos, POWs and women. “I have been fighting for families and underdogs my entire life. I’m not stopping now.”

Clinton tweaked her messages for the two separate audiences. She talked about how the LGBT community continues to face discrimination at work and her desire to preserve the right of same-sex marriage while she praised the New Mount Olive Baptist Church in Fort Lauderdale for working to improve neglected neighborhoods and spoke about her calls to reform the criminal justice system and invest in early childhood education.

Clinton, who is Methodist, quoted Scripture at the church.

“Scripture tells you when there is no vision the people perish,” Clinton said, and then said she would edit that message. “When there is negative, hateful, divisive vision the people also perish.”

Keep reading here.

October 29, 2016

Hillary Clinton to campaign in Wilton Manors Sunday



Hillary Clinton will campaign at a gay-friendly club in Wilton Manors Sunday.

She will attend a rally at The Manor Complex, 2345 Wilton Drive, at 2 p.m. Doors open at noon. The public can RSVP here.

This will be Clinton's first campaign event in Wilton Manors, a municipality in left-leaning Broward County, has a large openly gay community. Broward has about 600,000 registered Democrats -- the largest in Florida. 

The LGBT community is a reliable Democratic voting bloc. Clinton came out in support of same-sex marriage in 2013 in a video for the Human Rights Campaign, a gay rights group.

Clinton appears at a Jennifer Lopez concert in downtown Miami tonight.

October 28, 2016

Broward judge rules in favor of elections officials in marijuana ballot case

Snipes pix


A Broward judge ruled Friday morning that the county’s elections office has already taken appropriate steps to rectify the problem of a few ballots that omitted the medical marijuana amendment.

Circuit Judge Carol-Lisa Phillips issued an order shortly before noon denying a motion by a marijuana legalization group that sued Broward Supervisor of Elections Brenda Snipes last week after two Oakland Park voters received absentee ballots that omitted Amendment 2 to legalize medical marijuana statewide. Later, two Plantation voters also received mail-in ballots that omitted the amendment.

Phillips wrote that NORML of Florida failed to “demostrate irreparable harm or a violation of a clear civil right.”

Norm Kent, the attorney who sued Snipes on behalf of NORML, had asked the court to order Snipes to post signs at polling places and on social media and the mail alerting voters to check their ballots to verify they contain the amendment. But Phillips wrote that Snipes had already taken steps to fix the situation, including providing replacement ballots to those who asked for them and by instructing election officials to examine ballots to determine if they contain the amendment.

Keep reading here.
Miami Herald photo of Brenda Snipes by Marsha Halper

October 27, 2016

Broward judge hears witnesses in marijuana ballot case

Snipes pix


A Broward judge said Thursday she will rule promptly in a case filed by marijuana legalization activists who sued the Broward Supervisor of Elections after a few ballots were found that lacked the medical marijuana amendment.

Norm Kent, a lawyer for NORML of Florida, asked Judge Carol-Lisa Phillips to order elections officials to post signs at polling places to alert voters to look for Amendment 2, a constitutional amendment to allow medical marijuana.

A lawyer for Supervisor of Elections Brenda Snipes argued that signs aren't necessary and that Snipes has already taken appropriate steps to protect the voting process.

Keep reading here.


Fact-checking Marco Rubio and Patrick Murphy in Broward College debate



U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio and U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy clashed over Obamacare and each other’s resumes Wednesday night in their second and final debate for Rubio’s Senate seat.

The pair met at Broward College in Davie with less than two weeks before Election Day.

PolitiFact Florida fact-checked statements each candidate made during the event. Here’s our running list of things we’ve examined.

Keep reading here.


October 26, 2016

Debbie Wasserman Schultz's misleading claim about Obamacare insurers


Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., had to play defense over the Affordable Care Act -- sometimes called Obamacare -- during an interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on Oct. 25.

The previous afternoon, the federal government had announced that premiums for plans under the act would rise an average of 22 percent in 2017. While most plan-holders would see their federal subsidies increase to ease the premium hike, the news was an unwelcome development for Democrats, especially in the final days of an election season.

On CNN, Blitzer asked Wasserman Schultz about the hikes, saying, "that’s not the way it was supposed to be, was it?"

She responded, "Well, we're in a transition year, and as I said, you have 91 percent of … previously uninsured Americans in Florida who are eligible for a tax credit, which brings those costs down. So those numbers are really an anomaly. It's four or five states where the number of insurance options have narrowed and so premiums have increased, but we're going to be able to make sure that if we just sit down together and iron out the kinks that have occurred with Obamacare."

The part that caught our eye had to do with the decline in the number of insurers offering policies under the Affordable Care Act, which is considered one of the factors driving the rise in premiums. Is Wasserman Schultz correct that "it's four or five states where the number of insurance options have narrowed"?

Actually, it’s more than that.

Keep reading Louis Jacobson's fact-check from PolitiFact Florida.

October 25, 2016

In Broward, Hillary Clinton stumps for Patrick Murphy


@newsbysmiley @amysherman1

With polls suggesting she’s pulling ahead of Donald Trump in Florida, Hillary Clinton traveled to South Florida Tuesday and delivered her strongest pitch yet for for U.S. Senate candidate Patrick Murphy while urging voters not to grow over-confident.

“It’s going to be a close election,” she said at Broward College’s Coconut Creek campus. “Don’t get complacent, because we've got to turn people out.”

Appearing a little more relaxed and perhaps even a tad sarcastic, Clinton blasted U.S. Senator Marco Rubio for his deflections on climate change, and Donald Trump for not coming out strongly enough in support of Israel. She spoke to a crowd of about 1,750, which delighted the Democratic nominee by singing happy birthday to her, one day before she turns 69.

Keep reading here.
Miami Herald photo by Patrick Farrell

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