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Who is Brenda Snipes, Broward County’s supervisor of elections?

The lightning rod for the voting controversy in Florida this year has been Broward County and its supervisor of elections, Brenda Snipes.

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President Donald Trump told reporters Friday that Snipes “has had a horrible history and all of a sudden they are finding votes out of nowhere,” The New York Times reported. Florida Gov. Rick Scott, holding a razor-thin lead in the race for the U.S. Senate over incumbent Bill Nelson, announced Thursday that his campaign had filed a lawsuit against Snipes and Susan Bucher, the supervisor of elections in neighboring Palm Beach County, WFOR reported.

The suits accuse both offices of not complying with the state’s public records laws, and Scott publicly blasted both officials for “rank incompetence,” the Sun-Sentinel reported.

A Broward County judge ruled in favor of Scott on Friday and said Snipes must allow “immediate” viewing and copying of records that had been requested, WFOR reported.

However, a spokeswoman for the Department of Law Enforcement told the New York Times that no fraud allegations had been made and that no criminal investigations would proceed against Snipes or Bucher.

Here are some things to know about Snipes:

Brenda Calhoun Snipes, 68, is a native of Talladega, Alabama, and has lived in Broward County since 1964, according to the official Broward County Supervisor of Elections website.

She graduated from Westside High School in Talladega and then attended Talladega College, where she majored in modern foreign languages. After moving to Florida, she earned a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction for adults from Florida Atlantic University and was awarded a doctorate in educational leadership from Nova Southeastern University, according to the website.

She began teaching in Broward County after being invited by Blanche G. Ely, a social activist and principal of the Pompano Beach high school that bears her name.

She served as a co-principal at C. Robert Markham Elementary School in Pompano Beach before being appointed principal at the school.

She retired from the school system in June 2003. Five months later, Gov. Jeb Bush appointed Snipes to replace Miriam Oliphant, who was removed from the post after accusations of mishandling the 2002 gubernatorial primary, CNN reported in 2003. She was elected in her own right in 2004 and was re-elected in 2008, 2012 and 2016, 

Snipes and her husband, Walter Snipes Jr., were married in Talladega County, Alabama, in April 1964, according to Alabama marriage records. They have two grown daughters: Derrice Snipes who is a grants management director at Southwest Community College in Memphis; and Melanie Snipes, an attorney in Cartersville, Georgia. Snipes and her husband have two grandchildren.

Some of the previous glitches that have occurred during Snipes’ tenure as supervisor of elections:

A court ruled Snipes had broken election law when she destroyed ballots from the 2016 election 12 months after it, instead of the 22 months required by federal law, the Sun-Sentinel reported.

Election results in the 2016 primary were posted on the election office’s website before the polls closed, the newspaper reported.

In 2012, nearly 1,000 uncounted ballots were discovered a week after the election, according to the Sun-Sentinel.

In 2004, approximately 58,000 mail-in ballots were not delivered to voters, the newspaper reported.

Election Day 2018: Police say Florida man threatens to blow up elections office

A 65-year-old Florida man was arrested Monday after deputies said he called in a bomb threat to the Brevard County Supervisor of Elections Office. 

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Brevard County deputies said Daniel Chen, of Melbourne, called the office and made the threat because he was upset about the number of unsolicited calls he was receiving from political candidates. 

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Chen threatened to blow up the office and even gave his name and phone number, deputies said. 

Deputies were able to locate Chen and confirm he made the threat. 

>> An hour-by-hour preview of Election Night 2018

Chen was arrested on one charge of making a false report of a bomb and is being held in jail in lieu of $15,000 bond. 

New Jersey tax collector accused of stealing $75K in property tax payments

The municipal tax collector for three townships in a New Jersey county is accused of stealing more than $75,000 in property tax payments, Lehigh Valley Live reported.

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Rachellyn Mosher, 48, of Lopatcong Township, was arrested Friday, according to a New Jersey State Police news release.

Mosher was working as a tax collector between 2013 and 2018 when she allegedly stole property tax payments made by White Township, Harmony Township and Lopatcong Township residents in Warren County, WNBC reported.

Mosher’s arrest came after an 11-month investigation by the New Jersey State Police Official Corruption North Unit and the Warren County Prosecutor's Office, Lehigh Valley Live reported.

"In order to conceal her thefts, Mosher allegedly falsified each township's computerized tax records," the website reported, citing a news release from the New Jersey State Police.

Mosher was charged with three counts each of official misconduct, pattern of official misconduct, tampering with public records and two counts of theft, according to court records.

Sink or swim: Mako sharks predict DeSantis, Nelson will win Florida race

Update 8:37 a.m. EDT Nov. 5: The shark race results are in: Republican Rep. Ron DeSantis will be Florida's next governor and Democrat Bill Nelson will retain his seat in the U.S. Senate, according to the results of Nova Southeastern University's shark race.

>> Read more trending news Satellite tags were attached to the dorsal fins of four sharks by members of the Guy Harvey Research Institute and the shark that logged the most miles would "win" the election, the Sun-Sentinel reported.

>> Trump official: Florida gubernatorial race ‘cotton pickin’ important’

In the governor's "race," the DeSantis shark swam 371.18 miles, while the shark for Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum logged only 8.21 miles. Nelson's shark, meanwhile, traveled 785.27 miles, and Gov. Rick Scott’s shark had 130.88 miles.

“Our nonpartisan sharks have spoken, um, swum and they have made their predictions,” said Mahmood Shivji, director of the Guy Harvey Research Institute. “Our racing mako sharks did a perfect job predicting the presidential elections two years ago, so we’ll see what happens come Nov. 6.”

>> Midterm elections: How to avoid stress before, after Election Day

Original report: Fins to the left. Fins to the right. Four mako sharks will be used by a Florida university to predict Florida’s contentious midterm elections, the Sun-Sentinel reported.

The shark “race” began Oct. 16 and will end Nov. 3, three days before the elections.

Nova Southeastern University’s Guy Harvey Research Institute held a similar race for the 2016 presidential election, pitting a male shark (representing Donald Trump) against a female (representing Hillary Clinton), the newspaper reported. The male shark predicted Trump would win.

“Once again we turn to our sharks for their wisdom and expertise,” Richard Dodge, dean of the university’s Halmos College of Natural Sciences and Oceanography, told the Sun-Sentinel. “The sharks did a pretty good job two years ago, so let’s see how they do this year.”

Each shark has a satellite tag attached to its dorsal fin. Every time the shark’s fin breaks the surface of the Atlantic Ocean, the tag pings the animal’s location. The sharks that swim the most miles will be named the winners of the election.

Each shark will represent a candidate, the Sun-Sentinel reported. In the gubernatorial race, one shark will represent Rep. Ron DeSantis and one will race for Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum. The Senate race will pit sharks representing incumbent Bill Nelson and Florida Gov. Rick Scott.

The sharks can be tracked at www.ghritracking.org/flrace/ or by following #makoprediction on social media.

“This is a fun way to focus attention on the research NSU scientists are doing and the plight of sharks in our oceans,’’ Dodge told the Sun-Sentinel.

Utah state senator films himself trying marijuana for first time

A Utah state senator turned over a new leaf Saturday.

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Jim Dabakis (D-Salt Lake) drove to Las Vegas and tried marijuana, filming himself on Facebook outside a dispensary, KUTV reported. Dabakis said he wanted to try cannabis before Proposition 2, which would legalize medical marijuana in Utah, comes up for debate in a special legislative session, and then a vote on Nov. 6, the television station reported.

“Until this moment, I was a marijuana virgin,” Dabakis wrote on Facebook. “Ending that now. At least one legislator ought to try the stuff before we change the law!”

In the video, Dabakis explains he went into the dispensary and spent $30 for edible marijuana that looked like a gummy bear. Following instructions to cut the tangerine-flavored gummy bear in half, the legislator popped it into his mouth.

“Here it goes, I am going to try it,” Dabakis said in the video.

Dabakis said there wasn’t much of a taste at first.

“I wouldn’t recommend it as sheer candy; it’s kind of bitter,” Dabakis said in the video. “I will not be bringing the rest of this to Utah, believe me.”

In an interview with KUTV on Monday, Dabakis said he was on a fact-finding mission.

“It dawned on me Wednesday on the floor of the Senate that the Legislature is going to have the final say on this medical marijuana," Dabakis said. “I thought, 'Maybe nobody on this floor has ever tried marijuana.'”

Dabakis said he supports Proposition 2 and believes if it does not pass, his fellow legislators will defeat medical marijuana legislation in Utah.

“If the people vote 'no' now, they are going to go ‘Well, the people voted 'no' so we’re not going to pass this,'" Dabakis said.

Report: South Florida candidate compares Parkland activists to Hitler

A South Florida City Council candidate used Facebook posts to compare two teen activists from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School to Adolf Hitler, communists and actors, the Sun-Sentinel reported.

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Ximena Hommel is running for a seat on the Plantation City Council. Although her social media posts have been deleted, Hommel has posted links and memes about David Hogg and Emma Gonzalez, who gained national attention after a gunman shot and killed 17 people at the Parkland high school Feb. 14.

A Feb. 21 post included a link to a story about Hogg reading “it’s all theater,” and suggested he was rehearsing scripted lines. A March 25 post included side-by-side photos of Hogg with his right arm raised, next to a saluting Hitler.

On the same day, Hommel posted a photo showing Hogg and Gonzalez wearing Russian-style hats with the caption, “Give us your guns, comrades,” the Sun-Sentinel reported.

Hommel, a former police officer in Plantation, told the newspaper she had no regrets about the posts and will not apologize for reposting links and memes.

“I shared it and I made it public,” Hommel told the Sun-Sentinel. “I posted it from other pages because I don’t believe (Hogg and Gonzalez) represent the victims of the school. Go talk to the real victims.

“I don’t like they are portraying themselves as the victims ’cause they’re not.”

Pennsylvania GOP candidate vows to 'stomp' foe's face 'with golf spikes'

The Republican candidate for governor in Pennsylvania promised Gov. Tom Wolf in a video that he was “going to stomp all over your face with golf spikes,” CNN reported Saturday.

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In a Facebook video that has since been removed, Scott Wagner is shown jabbing his finger at the camera and addressing Wolf.

."Somewhere yesterday, your people said that I raised a ... white flag," CNN reported Wagner as saying. “Well, Gov. Wolf, let me tell you, between now and November 6, you better put a catcher's mask on your face," he adds. "Because I'm going to stomp all over your face with golf spikes because I'm going to win this for the state of Pennsylvania."

Wolf, a Democrat seeking a second term, leads Wagner in at least five polls.

Andrew Romeo, Wagner’s campaign manager, said in a statement that the candidate's comments “were not to be taken literally," CNN reported.

Florida candidate accused of faking college diploma

A heated political race in Florida is coming down to a question of degrees.

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Melissa Howard, a candidate for the Florida Legislature, has been accused of lying about graduating from college and then producing a fake diploma, the Herald-Tribune of Sarasota reported.

Howard, a businesswoman running against Tommy Gregory in the Aug. 28 Republican primary for state House District 73, on Friday answered accusations from a conservative-based website about her college graduation by distributing photographs of what she claimed was her diploma from Miami University in Ohio. According to the Herald-Tribune, she also posted photographs of what she claimed was her transcript on Facebook, writing that “The truth shall set you free!”

“It only took a night of flying back to my old stomping grounds to catch my opponent in yet another lie!” Howard wrote in her post.

However, the Herald-Tribune cited an email from Miami University general counsel Robin Parker, who said Howard never graduated.

Howard, whose maiden name was Fox when she attended the Ohio university, did not receive a bachelor of science degree in marketing in December 1996 as she claimed, the Herald-Tribune reported, citing Parker’s email.

“We have no such record of a degree,” Parker wrote, noting that the university did not offer a degree in marketing.. 

“Miami University’s degree for Marketing majors then, as it is now, was a Bachelor of Science in Business,” Parker wrote, adding that Howard’s major, according to university records, was retail. “The picture of the diploma that was posted on the HowardforHouse73 Facebook page does not appear to be an accurate Miami University diploma.

The website Florida News Online, which calls itself “The conservative choice for Florida news & politics.” questioned Howard’s academic credentials in a story on Tuesday.

“I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t deal with this,” Howard told the Herald-Tribune on Friday.

Howard told the website that the story was “a lie,” and Florida News Online retracted the story and apologized after Howard distributed the photo of her holding a framed diploma, the Herald-Tribune reported. However, the site reposted its story after Parker told them Howard did not graduate, Florida News Online reported.

Howard could not be reached for comment Saturday, the Herald-Tribune reported.

Her campaign consultant, Anthony Pedicini, said in a text message to the newspaper that Howard’s husband, Ian Howard, had a “cardiac event” Friday and is in the hospital.

“Melissa is focused on her family — not fake news this morning,” Pedicini wrote Saturday.

Gregory said in a text to the Herald-Tribune that “voters deserve nothing less than truth and integrity from their elected officials.”

“Unfortunately, it seems that Melissa Howard has failed that test,” he said in his text.

Florida state Senate candidate calls police on reporter after forum 

A Florida state senator running for reelection called police Thursday afternoon on a reporter she claimed was making threats against her, The Miami Herald reported. 

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Sen. Daphne Campbell, a Democrat running in District 38 in South Florida, called police at 1:24 p.m. after an appearance at a North Miami Beach restaurant, the newspaper reported.

A North Miami Beach officer who responded to the call and declined to give his name said Campbell called about threats made by a woman in a floral dress -- the attire of Miami Herald reporter Sarah Blaskey, the Herald reported.

No arrests were made.

Dennis Stubbolo, president of the Social Citizens of South Florida that hosted the event, said the incident was surprising.

“I did not see anything go wrong. I was there,” he told the Herald. “I don’t know where that came from.”

Campbell made the call after a question-and-answer session. When Blaskey asked for an interview, Campbell refused and told the reporter to email her questions, the Herald reported.

When Blaskey continued to listen to Campbell’s conversations with voters, the senator walked to another table and called police, the newspaper reported.

Campbell’s attorney, James Jean-Francois, said he was unaware of the incident and could not comment. Campbell has accused the newspaper of racism and bias in favor of her Democratic primary opponent, Jason Pizzo, the Herald reported.

“You guys keep on harassing her all the time and she’s tired of you guys,” said a man who answered Campbell’s cellphone and declined to give his name, the newspaper reported.

Miami Herald Managing Editor Rick Hirsch said that “Asking a public official questions in a public place is perfectly appropriate.”

Earlier this year, Campbell called Miami Shores Police because Rise News reporter Rich Robinson was filming her in public, The Miami New Times reported. Miami Shores Police found that Robinson had done nothing wrong.

13-year-old boy running for governor of Vermont

The state that produced the oldest man ever to run for president now has the youngest person ever to run for governor.

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Bernie Sanders turned 75 two months before the 2016 presidential election. Ethan Sonneborn is 13 and an eighth-grader who is running for governor.

Now.

There is no minimum age to run for governor in Vermont, so Sonenborn is officially the youngest candidate for that office in state history, CNN reported.

Sonneborn is running as a Democrat and will face two other candidates in the party’s primary election in August. The winner will face incumbent Gov. Phil Scott, 59, a Republican.

The teen’s platform will focus on stricter gun control legislation an issue he has stressed since announcing his candidacy in 2017, CNN reported.

"I'll admit when I first heard about a 13-year-old running, I thought, 'Is this some kid from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, spoiled?' But that's not the case," Vermont Democratic Party Executive Director Conor Casey told CNN. "Ethan really did embrace the gun issue early on. He's representing younger people and he's been a good voice for them."

Sonneborn admitted that hunting is an important part of life in New England.

"It's a culture that I respect," he said. "But if it's making the decision between letting my friends have a good time at a firing range and them possibly being involved in a school shooting, I'm choosing legislation to protect them from that school shooting."

Sonneborn said he has met Scott, who told him his gubernatorial bid is "very cool," CNN reported.

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