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Broward Supervisor of Elections closes August primary

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Changing her mind from a decision made just a week ago, Dr. Brenda C. Snipes – the Broward Supervisor of Elections – has closed two area races, thus favoring local Democrat’s, according to the Sun Sentinel late Thursday.

Attorneys for Plaintiff’s Jennifer Brinkman and Rico Petrocelli are seeking to have the August 26th primary open to all registered voters in the Broward County Commission race in district 2 and the State House contest in district 96.

Deciding to err in caution, Snipes previously indicated that she would mail absentee ballots and code in-person ballots as if the primaries were to be held open.

“We always do just-in-case thinking,” Snipes stated last Thursday. “We have to. We don’t want to be caught blindsided.”

According to the Supervisor of Elections, if the court ruled against the Plaintiff’s seeking declaratory relief, she would simply not count the non-Democratic votes if the primaries were kept closed.

Appearing before Broward County Circuit Court Judge Sandra Perlman on Thursday, an attorney for the elections chief indicated that the primary would be kept closed. According to attorney Burnadette Norris-Weeks, the change was made for “legal reasons” and that even with a court order opening the August primary, it was too late to do so.

“It’s shocking that Dr. Snipes has ruled against erring on the side of caution,” Tom Lauder of DailyBroward.com told Examiner. “The right to vote should not come down to the cost of printing a ballot, but a constitutionally protected right guaranteed to all.”

Recognized for his political reporting, Lauder was present in the courtroom during Thursday's hearing.

Absentee ballots have not been mailed reported Mary Cooney, Director of Public Services for the Broward SOE, but they have been sent to the printer. Overseas ballots will be mailed on July 12th while domestic ballots will be sent on July 22nd.

“The primary should be open to all registered voters in all parties,” Rico Petrocelli, a former Plantation councilman and Chairman of the Broward Republican party told Examiner. “Barring some voters the right to cast a ballot is akin to taxation without representation.”

Seeking declaratory relief and an open primary favoring all political parties in the heavily Democratic Broward County, the presence of “write-in” candidates in the County Commission and State House race effectively closed the race to all but Democrats.

According to the lawsuit, allegations have been levied that the “write-in” candidates did not – in violation of state law – live in the district in which they were running.

Thinking out loud during the hearing, attorneys indicated that if it were too late to open the August 26th primary, then the general election on November 4th could be opened to all political parties.

Further hearings are scheduled for Friday morning at 9:30 a.m. before Judge Perlman.

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