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Broward Elections Dept. Under Fire

FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – The Broward County canvassing board was set to meet Friday to finalize counts for overseas and military ballots and certify election results as criticism of the county's election office continued to mount this week after nearly 1,000 ballots were discovered in a warehouse.

All election results must be certified by Sunday in Florida.

The calls for answers about problems in Broward County and the rest of Florida have only intensified since the disastrous performance of many election departments. Broward County's discovery of the ballots in a warehouse brought even more scrutiny on the elections department.

"When the canvassing board recessed on Saturday we were basically told there were between 150 and 165 ballots remained to be counted, that they had to double check, that they hadn't been counted before," said Commissioner & Canvassing Board member Ilene Lieberman. "And when we came back on Monday the report showed 963 new ballots."

Broward County Elections Supervisor Brenda Snipes said the votes were always going to be counted earlier this week. Thursday, Snipes said in an open letter to voters the ballots were "not considered 'lost' and therefore not considered 'found.''

Snipes contended the ballots were always in the possession of the Broward County Supervisor of Elections office.

"Unfortunately, this is not the first time this has happened in Broward," said Commissioner Lieberman.

In 2003, former Broward County Supervisor of Elections Miriam Oliphant was escorted out of her office and removed from her job after uncounted votes were found in a cabinet drawer and the department went a million dollars over budget.

Oliphant claimed commissioners were after her. Snipes, who replaced Olphant, was brought in to clean things up in the aftermath. Now, Snipes is feeling pressure herself over the ballots found in the warehouse.

For her part, Snipes vowed that the results would be in by the deadline and be accurate.

"Broward voters can be assured that even though separating, organizing and processing takes time, all votes in Broward County will be accounted for when we give our Final Results Certification on November 18th, 2012," Snipes said in her letter to voters.

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