On November 6th an in-person registered FL voter, (whose driver's license was scanned on-site), was given a provisional ballot for reasons not clear at a later time. The voter then dutifully filled out the provisional ballot as instructed. Three days later, the voter was told their provisional ballot was deemed invalid.

The indignant voter then waited four hours on the next day Saturday, November 10th, to testify as to the ballots genuineness before the canvassing board. The canvassing board however would not hear the voter's testimony because it wasn't sure why that ballot was considered invalid. None the less the ballot was improperly opened by a single individual and then mixed with ballots that were deemed valid, and counted.

Assuming the spirit of the laws in question is solely to prevent the crime of voter fraud, is there some subtle but legitimate purpose to the canvassing board's recalcitrance in recognizing an obvious and easily verified non-fraudulent vote?

Note to partisan readers: the content of the vote is not part of this question, just the bureaucratic procedural aspects.

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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because we don't know why the ballot was marked as invalid. We don't know that it was a "voter fraud" law nor that the ballot was clearly valid. This invites broad speculation, but the actual question will probably be answered in a few days (why was her ballot marked invalid?). Investigate first. Answer objectively after, not speculatively before the investigation.
    – Brythan
    Nov 12, 2018 at 2:36
  • @Brythan, Re "we don't know": irrelevant, since the canvassing board probably doesn't know either; clearly mistakes happen, (as they do in all bureaucracies), so the question is more to the effect of what is it about this fallible bureaucracy and the rules it follows that seem to oblige it to err on the side of bureaucracy rather than on the side of the citizen. Since the rules and policies the bureaucracy must follow are (presumably) public, this shouldn't require speculation to answer.
    – agc
    Nov 12, 2018 at 3:00
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    @BobE Another reason this voter's testimony might not have been heard is that it is now impossible to distinguish her ballot from 204 other ballots (because Broward county illegally mixed the ballots together before hers was declared invalid). As such, they cannot actually pass her ballot as valid without also passing twenty-one other ballots that were marked invalid. Or fail her ballot as invalid without also failing 183 other valid ballots. As such, her testimony couldn't have much effect even if it had been taken. Changing 183 to 22 to 184 to 21 isn't really that big a change.
    – Brythan
    Nov 12, 2018 at 4:23
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    @Brythan, Re "they cannot actually pass her ballot without... etc.": My understanding is that FL provisional ballots include a provisional ballot ID #, which functions something like a USPO tracking number.
    – agc
    Nov 12, 2018 at 4:54
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    @Brythan - "We don't know....." because the Canvassing Board, itself, can't determine why, either. Isn't that the whole point here? Her vote is being disallowed for no reason that can be referenced or explained? Nov 12, 2018 at 19:08

1 Answer 1


Controversy of voting fraud law relates to the actions of election officers in processing the ballots, not the individual voter cited in the article originally linked to the question. Contrary to the implication of the article and this question, news reports all challenged provisional ballots were included in the count, which may not be in compliance with election law. The Miami Herold report of November 10 seems to include a better summary:

Twenty-two improperly cast ballots, considered void due to mismatched signatures and other violations, were included Saturday in the final vote totals submitted by Broward County to the Florida Secretary of State’s office.


Note: the canvassing board is a statewide committee, and that the county elections supervisor who decided to open the envelope was not on that board.

Canvassing boards are generally operating under a deadline, in some states tighter than others. Based on a quick read, it seems that the information she sought to present may not have been timely nor in proper form to be considered. The highlighted portion of information about provisional ballots seems to stand out:

The affirmation printed on the certificate envelope requires the voter to give his or her name, date of birth, registered party affiliation, previous name (if changed), current residence and mailing addresses, Florida driver's license or state ID number or last four digits of social security number, phone number (optional) and signature. There is also space on the envelope for the voter to add any additional information that might be helpful in determining his or her eligibility. A voter may also present written evidence of eligibility to the Supervisor of Elections by 5 PM on the second day after the election, although voters who are voting by provisional ballot due to lack of identification do not need to provide evidence of their identity, as this will be confirmed by comparing the signature on their certificate envelope with the signature in their registration record. After the voter fills out the certificate and seals the envelope, it is kept in a special container designated for provisional ballots.

News reports say that a voter showed up at the election board on Saturday. under the rules that seems too late to consider additional evidence supporting her eligibility to vote. So the stated fact the Election Board "would not consider hearing her testimony", seems like it might be based on existing rules meaningful if counting is to be completed by a deadline.

It is important to note that all work to determine if a ballot should be counted or not is to be performed on information on the outside of the sealed provisional envelope, so as to eliminate the actual votes on questions is not visible to those making the determination.

Unconfirmed provisional ballots should remain in their security envelopes. More recent news reports confirm this DID NOT happened, saying:

Broward Supervisor of Elections Brenda Snipes accidentally mixed the valid ballots with the invalid ones after she had initially removed the ballots from their envelopes.

This suggests that the 22 ballot(s) in question were in fact counted, and that perhaps they shouldn't have been. If when the recount is finished the margin incumbent wins by 22.

P.S. Andrea Mitchell of NBC reported that Benda Snipes of Broward County is a Republican. Fact checking site Politicfact has rated that as false. It quotes Snipes as saying "I have been a Democrat all my life." Marco Rubio said that Snipes has a history of breaking the law, and Politicfact rates this as true with substantial examples. Determination if Snipes' latest actions might amount to incompetence or elections fraud will probably come from a court.

  • This is interesting and informative, but doesn't address the matter of the provisional ballot in question being given incorrectly in the first place to a voter who should have received an ordinary ballot.
    – agc
    Nov 16, 2018 at 4:49

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