CNN's Cuomo Interviews Brenda Snipes: "I Have Not Made Any Decisions" About Political Future


CNN: Brenda Snipes, the embattled Broward County elections supervisor, responds to Republicans in Florida and nationally who are trying to paint the statewide recount as a Democratic effort to steal the election. Snipes also responded to criticism of law-breaking, mishandling of ballots, and transparency in general. Full transcript below.

"Those are opinions that people have put forward for their own various reasons," she responded.

Snipes guaranteed that Broward County will be ready on Thursday with a ballot count.

"I am saying 100%," she said. "We have a staff that is highly trained, they are capable, they are competent and we have set the goal that all of our information is in according to the schedule."

Snipes said she has "not made any decisions" about her political future.

"After this race are you really thinking about resigning after the recount is over?" CNN's Chris Cuomo asked.

"As I told one of the reporters today, I'm thinking about many things," Snipes said. "I have not many any decisions. Whatever I do I will contemplate very carefully and make what I think is the correct decision to make."

Full transcript, via CNN:

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: All right. For all of the "what may bes," that brings our focus right to Florida. That is the state, for all of the elections that we're watching, that has the most at stake in terms of the optics. Of course, there are no House seats there going on. You have a congressional seat, you have a governor's race, and they are both in very, very sharp focus.

Now, Republicans have ratcheted up the tension down there. They're claiming that there is fraud. That the Democrats are trying to steal elections. They have offered no proof of that. In fact, the secretary of state, who is a Republican, has said he has no specific and credible claim of fraud.

Law enforcement that was asked by the governor to look into it, they went and said, do you need our help? They were told "no." So this isn't about fact, it's about feelings. And there's somebody who's in the center of it all. The election supervisor in Broward County, Brenda Snipes joins me now.

Thank you for taking this opportunity, Ms. Snipes.

BRENDA SNIPES, BROWARD COUNTY SUPERVISOR OF ELECTIONS: Well, thank you for giving me this opportunity. I look forward to it.

CUOMO: All right. Let's start with the biggest question. Will you get your counting done on time? The Thursday deadline you have, the Friday deadline with military and out of country ballots after it. Will you be ready on Thursday?

SNIPES: Absolutely. My team and I are working very hard, very diligently to make sure that that happens.

CUOMO: So you're saying, 100 percent, you'll have the count done to everybody's satisfaction?

SNIPES: I'm saying 100 percent.

CUOMO: All right.

SNIPES: We have a staff that's highly trained. They're capable. They're competent. And we've set the goal of making sure that all of our information is in according to the schedule.

CUOMO: You have been cited, Ms. Snipes, as a problem in this process. That you're not doing the job with transparency and you're not doing it with the efficiency that gives confidence in the overall process. How do you respond?

SNIPES: Well, you know, that's probably -- those are opinions that people have put forward, for their own various reasons, but I would like to call your attention that this midterm election, in addition to running very smoothly, was one of the most highly participated midterm elections, probably that we've had in 20 years or more.

Over 700,000 folks decided that they wanted to have a voice in this election. They came forward. They voted. We are counting their votes now in a recount procedure. But they said, I don't want to be left out. I want to be an important, contributing citizen of this process. And they came forward. And we appreciate that.

CUOMO: All right. But you have rules that you're supposed to abide by and transparency that is very important. You refused to give the Scott campaign the information they wanted. It had to go to court. The judge said you had to turn it over, you didn't turn it over by the deadline that was given. That is cast as a partisan spat, that you're doing that because you're a Democrat. How do you respond to that?

SNIPES: Well, I was talking with a woman today, as she came into our office, and she made some statement about -- a partisan statement. And she said, I know that you're a Republican. I said, I have been a Democrat all my life. In this position, I have been very focused on party, because I want to treat all of the voters in Broward County the same.

And I think if you'd ask the voters, you'd find that I have that reputation. I don't have a reason to hold anything back, except that I don't want to give out information that's incomplete or incorrect at that particular time. So concerns or allegations that we are not transparent. There's one comment that my staff -- and we work very closely together -- always bring to my attention is, that Dr. Snipes, you'll just take time to walk anybody through our election warehouse.

I think that's very important, because that gives those person who is take the time to come to us to see our operation, a chance to see behind the scenes. And there's a lot that goes on behind the scenes to make an election possible, to make it efficient, and to make it something that voters want to participate in. And obviously, we're doing that --

CUOMO: Well --

SNIPES: -- if over 700,000 participated in the midterm.

CUOMO: Well, if it were that obvious, Rick Scott wouldn't have had to go to court, with all due respect, doctor, right? I mean, he had to go to court to get this tour, that you say you're giving to everybody for no reason, you wouldn't give it to him, or his people, you have to go to court to get it. Fair criticism?

SNIPES: Um, no, it's not. No, it's not. We don't select who we give our information to. We give the information to those persons who have requested it and I believe the public records request says "in a timely manner," and we attempt to do that. And we try to balance everything. We're finishing up one of the biggest elections -- as I mentioned earlier -- for the midterm, so we're trying to get everything complete. And as far as I know, we had a team working on that.

CUOMO: Right.

SNIPES: And I'm pretty sure that they got the information out.

CUOMO: Now, after that, the central criticism comes to whether or not all the ballots that are supposed to be counted are and whether or not ballots that should not be counted are being counted. Your critics point to 20-20 -- 22 rejected provisional ballots that were put in with a batch of 200 valid ones. And they say, you see? This is what happened back in 2016. They make mistakes in there, and it can change an election.

SNIPES: As I said before, an election is a huge operation. There are many moving parts, but we pay attention to each one of them. There are folks who have specialties in all kinds of functions of the election process. And there were 25 ballots in question, not 21. And those 25 ballots had not been counted as of today.

But now those ballots, as I understand it, came from valid Broward voters. And I believe every voter should be given a fair opportunity to have their ballot cast, but we don't want that ballot to be cast illegally. If the ballot doesn't meet the standard, that's one thing.

CUOMO: Right.

SNIPES: But if the ballots have been determined to come from actual registered voters who met all the criteria of being a registered voter --

CUOMO: Right?

SNIPES: -- and operated as a registered voter, those votes should be counted. But that's not just my decision. Decisions like that are taken before the canvassing board, and we sit as a team, there are three of us, two county judges and myself, supervisor of elections. So if a ballot is in question, before that ballot is opened, it comes to the canvassing board so that the canvassing board can review the circumstances.

CUOMO: Right.

SNIPES: And the canvassing board makes a determination as to whether those ballots should be counted. CUOMO: Is it not the case that whether the number is 22 or 25,

whatever the number is, that those rejected provisional ballots that were put with 200 valid ones, is it not the case that those 22 or 25 ballots were then removed again, because they were not supposed to be counted with the other ones?

SNIPES: They were -- they were never counted. Those ballots had been separated. They had been isolated. They have not been counted to date.

CUOMO: OK. One other question, there's going to be a lot of talk about how well you do your job. You've talked about it. You said, I'm going to stay here for the dependency of my term or maybe I'll step down, we'll see what happens with the politics of it.

But when it comes right down, are you more concerned with whether or not the count or the ballot itself is going to wind up being the story when it comes to the Senate race? Because the ballot in your county put the Senate race in the bottom left-hand corner, and it could be that one of the reasons that you have all of these undervotes in your county is because people didn't see the race because of the way the ballot was constructed.

SNIPES: You know, our ballots are constructed by a state-approved ballot code and when we put our ballot together, that's exactly what we utilized. And we also have representatives sitting alongside us to assist with the coding of the ballot to make recommendations for the ballot. We have a huge ballot. Our ballots are either six pages, five, or six pages in length. And you have to be concerned about how it's going to appear to the voter, how it was going to be structured, and whether or not the voter is going to read everything that's important to making a selection. So I don't think there was anything wrong with the design of our ballot. We did create it according to the state's uniform ballot code, and that's the -- a part of the uniformity process in our elections here in Florida.

CUOMO: Well, we'll see how that goes, because undervotes are going to be an issue in that race. And obviously, as you know, it's not news to you that people are talking about how the ballot is constructed.

Just to get you on the record with this, while I have you, Dr. Snipes, and I'll let you go back to your work, which is clearly more important than media interviews. But if the pressure stays on you, after this race, are you really thinking about resigning after the recount is over?

SNIPES: As I told one of the reporters today, I'm thinking about many things. I have not made any decisions. Whatever I do, I will contemplate it very carefully and make what I think is the correct decision for me.

CUOMO: All right. Brenda Snipes, I know these aren't comfortable questions for you, but the process matters so much. Confidence in it matters so much that we wanted the opportunity to let you answer for yourself and let people know what's going on, so thank you for taking the opportunity. SNIPES: Thank you. I appreciate it. Thank you.

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