Not even Chris Cuomo could keep a straight face throughout the horror show of a performance that embattled Broward County Elections Supervisor Brenda Snipes put on his show Tuesday night.
Aside from finding lost ballots in the trunks of Democratic activists' cars, one of the chief complaints that Gov. Rick Scott has leveled against Snipes is her lack of transparency. In an emergency lawsuit filed after his win over incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson last week, Scott alleged that Snipes had been "unwilling to disclose records revealing how many electors voted, how many ballots have been canvassed and how many ballots remain to be canvassed."
When pressed about these charges by Cuomo on Tuesday, Snipes rambled on with such a nonsensical excuse that the notoriously partisan CNN host had no choice but to poke holes in her story.
"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," Cuomo began. "That is cast as a partisan spat. That you’re doing that because you’re a Democrat. How do you respond to that?"
Snipes began her response with a statement that appeared coherent at first before it fell off into self-parody as her story constantly shifted from one subject to the other without a single payoff. At one point she talked about a woman who alleged Snipes was a Republican working to keep Republicans in office, the next she talked about her staff praising her transparency.
Well, there was a woman that came into my office. She made a partisan statement. She said, "I know that you’re a Republican." I said, "I have been a Democrat all my life. In this position, I've been very focused on party because I want to treat all voters the same."
And I think if you asked the voters, you’d find that I have that reputation. I don’t have a reason to withhold 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 brings to my attention is, "Dr. Snipes, you just take time to walk anybody through our election warehouse."
I think that’s very important, because that gives, the persons who 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.
If you think that made no sense, Cuomo seemed to agree; he responded by noting the fact that she showed no such transparency to Rick Scott when he asked for it.
"Well, if it were that obvious, Rick Scott would not have to go to court, with all due respect, Dr. Snipes," said Cuomo. "He had to go to court that you say you give to everybody for no reason. You wouldn’t give it to him or his people. He had to go to court to get it."
In the same interview, Snipes addressed a recent allegation in the Miami Herald, which said she mixed 20 illegal provisional ballots in with a batch of 200 acceptable ones.
"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," Snipes said.
"If the ballot doesn’t meet the standard, that’s one thing. But if the ballots have been determined to come from actual registered voters who met all the criteria of being a registered voter — and operated as a registered voter, those votes should be counted," she continued.
Cuomo again could not just sit idly by and take such a non-answer. "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?" Cuomo asked.
She responded, "They were — they were never counted. Those ballots had been separated. They had been isolated. They have not been counted to date."