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Florida Fascism: Broward Elections Official Has Opponent Ellen Brodsky Arrested
by Michael Collins
Monday, Nov. 17, 2008 at 11:40 AM
Ellen Brodsky, a widely respected and well liked election reform advocate, was jailed after seeking to attend a Broward County Canvassing Board meeting. Brodsky, a long time election reform advocate was a candidate for Broward County Secretary of Elections. An employee of her opponent and winner in the Supervisor of Elections had Brodsky arrested.
ellen_brodsky.jpg, image/jpeg, 414x337
A witness on the scene makes clear that all Brodsky did was ask about the meeting and inquire about a cancellation. Brodsky is the second election reform figure arrested while simply inquiring about the operations about their elections division. During the Missouri Primary, Phil Lindsay an election reform activist in Kansas City, Missouri was arrested for pointing out that a poll worker was incorrect in requesting a photographic identification prior to Lindsay exercising his franchise (they are not required in Missouri). He disagreed and he too was hauled of by the police. Lindsay and Brodsky have been high profile advocates for clean elections and critical of the operations of their elections officials. Broward County is home of the “butterfly ballot” in 2000, 100,000 missing votes in 2004, and an array of other problems, including 2008 delays, glitches and long lines. Welcome to the new fascism.
Eyewitnwss Report from Maida Genser:
In case anyone reading this possibly does not know, Ellen was a candidate for Broward County Supervisor of Elections in the 2008 general election.
I went to be a witness today when Ellen went to observe the Canvassing Board meeting this afternoon at Broward County SOE. Predictably, they did not let her in and we (hopefully) got some good videotape of that.
We were told that the meeting was cancelled and that the Canvassing Board went home.
We had to argue to get them to let us up close enough to the building to see the official sign that was posted. The sign specifically said there was a meeting at 1 PM. We were there at approximately 1:15 PM. There was no posting of a cancellation.
The police were called (and all we were doing was asking questions). I do not know the name of the man who works high up for Dr. Brenda Snipes, Broward County SOE. Ellen can fill you in later. He was on the phone the whole time, and videotaping while we were videotaping. He kept saying to Ellen that she was not allowed to be there. Ellen had been at an earlier Canvassing Board meeting and asked some questions. The SOE (Secretary of Elections) is saying that she was abusive (kinda doubt that, but she didn’t have any witnesses). She was arrested for trespassing. They claim she refused to leave. I was there. She did no such thing. All she did was ask questions in a perfectly assertive manner. She never refused to leave. (I will probably have to go to court to testify on her behalf).
One more thing: I called her family and met her son to pick up her car because the deputy told me that her car would be towed if it was left overnight. By 3:30 PM, they were already getting ready to tow it away. We got there just in time.
Update: As of 7:00 p.m. EST, Ellen still had not been processed. She will probably have to spend the night in jail.
Election Supervisor Candidate Arrested at Direction of Election Supervisor Brenda Snip
by Brad Friedman (bradblog)
Monday, Nov. 17, 2008 at 12:01 PM
FL Election Integrity Advocate, Candidate For Election Supervisor Arrested at Direction of Election Supervisor. Opponent Ellen H. Brodsky Jailed Overnight After Being Barred From Oversight Several Times by Incumbent SoE Brenda Snipes
A candidate for Supervisor of Elections in Broward County, FL was arrested yesterday, following threats and orders from her opponent, the current Broward SOE, Dr. Brenda Snipes.
Ellen H. Brodsky, the county's first non-partisan candidate for SOE, had previously been barred from public counting and oversight on a number of occasions, at the county's official Canvassing Board site and voting machine warehouse in Lauderhill, Florida.
After being taken into custody yesterday afternoon by three uniformed police officers, Brodsky was held over night at the Broward County Jail even though the $25 --- that's twenty-five dollar --- bail had been posted for her by her son by 8pm last night. She was finally released well after 5am this morning.(Note: An account of the arrest posted this morning on the South Florida Sun Sentinel's blog incorrectly reported that Brodsky was "released on bail Thursday evening." A report later filed on their website by the same reporter correctly noted that she "was released from jail at 5:40 a.m. Friday.")
Brodsky is a longtime member of a number of election integrity advocacy groups in Florida, including the Broward Election Reform Coalition, which she also founded. Earlier this year, she determined to run against Snipes as a non-partisan candidate.
Brodsky is the latest in a string of election integrity advocates around the country who have been arrested in the course of attempting oversight of our election procedures --- although she is the first, to our knowledge, who also happens to be a candidate on the ballot. The action has brought condemnation from a number of other election watchdogs and even other election officials in Florida who have characterized the arrest to The BRAD BLOG as an outrage and an abuse of power by Snipes and her office.****
"Outrageous"" For a candidate, or a member of the public who wishes nothing more than to observe the process, to be taken into custody would be outrageous absent really extraordinary reasons --- none of which I've heard articulated in this matter," Leon County (Tallahassee) Supervisor of Elections Ion Sancho told The BRAD BLOG this afternoon.
"I've been an election official for twenty years. Not even one time has it become necessary to even threaten someone's removal by law enforcement at any kind of meeting that I've ever attended," said Sancho who has spoken with Brodsky "on many occasions" and met her "a couple of times in face to face meetings.
"Ellen Theisen, of the non-partisan election integrity watchdog organization VotersUnite.org was similarly troubled by the arrest. "It's outrageous that Ellen Brodsky was arrested and kept in jail overnight," Theisen wrote via email today. "Her work toward election integrity in Broward County has been dedicated, creative, effective, and respectful to the law. The idea that she would be 'disruptive' is nonsense. I'm convinced that was fabricated by those who appear to be threatened by her requests for transparency and accountability in the Broward County election process.
Ellen Brodsky has filed suit in Sept. against Brenda Snipes and the Broward County Canvassing Board for concealment of election proceedings and violation of the Sunshine Laws see the lawsuit http://runellenrun.com/news.php
Banana Republic (Ellen Brodsky's arrest)
by Edmund Newton (New Times)
Tuesday, Dec. 02, 2008 at 12:02 AM
As told to Edmund Newton
NEW TIMES (Broward Palm Beach)
Published on November 26, 2008
So it's official. Ellen Brodsky, Broward County's most uncompromising voting rights activist and independent candidate for the county's top elections post, has stepped on Supervisor of Elections Brenda Snipes' last nerve. In her unrelenting drive to make sure elections officials abide by every wrinkle of every statute of Florida elections law, Brodsky has been declared a primo "disruptive person," culminating in her arrest for trespassing, all choreographed by Snipes and her deputy, Fred Bellis.
There have been disputes in the past, but this time, county officials were "ready to go with everything they had," as Brodsky puts it.
When, on November 13, Brodsky and a friend appeared at the entrance to the county's Lauderhill warehouse, where the canvassing board meets to address issues relating to provisional ballots, they were blocked by police and security guards.
Bellis came outside and told Brodsky that she had been barred after creating a "disruption" during an earlier meeting. Then he directed sheriff's deputies to arrest her, though she and her friend, Maida Genser, had not entered the building.
"I was just trying to establish whether the board was in session," Brodsky says.
Still, she found herself handcuffed in the back seat of a police car. Genser taped the procedure with a small videocamera.
It was the beginning of a 16-hour ordeal for Brodsky, who was booked at the central jail and confined in a cell until 5:30 a.m. the next day, despite the fact that her son had posted the required $25 bail the evening before.
Brodsky, 57, a New York-born graphic artist, has been an impassioned voting rights advocate since 2002, when she worked as a clerk at a polling place and found what she says were disturbing irregularities (electronic voting machines in her Coconut Creek precinct that spit out 5 percent more votes than were actually cast). "I thought there would be some sort of investigation," Brodsky says, "but the people at the Supervisor of Elections office were overjoyed that it was so close."
Last summer, Brodsky decided to follow her passion and go head-to-head with Snipes, declaring herself an independent candidate for the office. The supervisor is a high-profile figure around town, a Democrat who was originally appointed to the job by Gov. Jeb Bush, and an imposing opponent. In the August primary, she got more votes than any other candidate. Indeed, Brodsky lost decisively on November 4. But with 18 percent of the vote, Brodsky still drew more than 100,000 votes — an impressive total for an unfunded independent candidate facing a major-party incumbent.
Because of her sometimes-brusque demeanor, Brodsky has alienated county officials, who seem to break into a sweat whenever she shows up. This may have something to do with the effectiveness of Brodsky as a watchdog of the system. In 2004, she alerted the public to the embarrassing loss by either the county or the Postal Service of at least 58,000 absentee ballots. Recently, she blew the whistle on the county's odd — and possibly illegal — system of printing the party affiliation of each voter on the outside of the return envelopes for absentee ballots.
During the recent election season, Brodsky was barred from meetings, lied to by guards about whether the canvassing board was in session, and, on one occasion, grudgingly allowed to observe from a roped-off area, with security guards hovering next to her. When she complained to one of the guards that she couldn't see the proceedings, he told her she should have brought binoculars.
On November 7, she attended a canvassing board session, determined to ask some questions. Deputy Sheriff C.Y. Bell warned her that any disruption from her — including "clearing your throat" or "standing up" — would be grounds for evicting her. Still, the energized Brodsky at one point raised her hand to ask a question.
According to both Snipes and Judge Robert Lee, chairman of the canvassing board, Brodsky created a "commotion" in the audience despite repeated warnings from the sheriff's deputy. Finally, Lee says, Brodsky was asked to leave and warned that she would be arrested for trespassing if she returned. As Brodsky was forcibly led out, Snipes says (confirmed by Lee), she shouted that the county ran the election process "like a fucking banana republic."
It was Bell who arrested Brodsky a week later, reporting in her arrest report that she had "created a disturbance" in the building's entrance and that she was "screaming profanities." Both claims are belied by Genser's wobbly video, which shows a reasonable Brodsky asking a few questions about the meeting schedule.
All of this could add up to a big payout by the county in a civil suit. Brodsky's lawyer, Tanner Andrews, had already filed one complaint before the arrest. There are now additional violations of Brodsky's civil rights and her right to attend a public meeting in this state, as well as a possible assault by the burly deputy Bell, Andrews contends.
Tailpipe wouldn't say that Brodsky's "banana republic" invective (which she uttered as she was being hustled out of the meeting) constituted a truthful statement. Still, maybe the embattled activist should be cut some slack, considering the frustration she and others have experienced in trying to ensure an election count that voters can believe in. Maybe the obvious passion that Brodsky and others feel for voting rights should be rewarded by including them in a much-needed citizens advisory board. Brodsky's language, Snipes says, is "outside the lines of decency." Maybe so. But so is an election process that nobody really believes in.
Brodsky still drew more than 100,000 votes — an impressive total for an unfunded independent candidate facing a major-party incumbent..
VIDEO: Outrageous Arrest of Brodsky Caught on Tape
by Brads Blog repost
Wednesday, Dec. 10, 2008 at 10:50 AM
Blogged by Brad Friedman on 12/9/2008 12:33PM
VIDEO: Outrageous Arrest of FL Election Integrity Advocate, Candidate Caught on Tape
Ellen Brodsky's Attempt at Peaceful Observation of Ballot Counting, Led to Overnight Detention in Broward County Jail, Apparently Orchestrated by Election Opponent...
View the article and video link at
Brodsky has filed Lawsuit against Brenda Snipes and Canvassing Board
Wednesday, Dec. 10, 2008 at 1:37 PM
Blogged by Brad Friedman on 11/14/2008 5:06PM
FL Election Integrity Advocate, Candidate For Election Supervisor Arrested at Direction of Election Supervisor, Opponent.
Ellen H. Brodsky Jailed Overnight After Being Barred From Oversight Several Times by Incumbent SoE Brenda Snipes.
September 16, 2008 - Ellen Brodsky has filed Lawsuit against Brenda Snipes and the Broward County Canvassing Board for concealment of election proceedings.
During the August 31, 2008 election Ellen Brodsky was appointed a citizen election observer by the Florida Green Party to oversee the manual recounts of the Judicial Contest including the entire election from pre-election testing to certification to post election audit. Upon arrival she was approached by armed police under the employ of Brenda Snipes and was barred from observing the recounts for fear that she might "stand up".
This kind of behavior is not only ethically wrong, it is also illegal. According to the Florida Sunshine Laws, it is against the law to bar citizen observers from public business conducted by government agencies. Read the lawsuit and the additional motion for preliminary injunction.
Followup by Tanner Andrews, Attorney for Ellen Brodsky:
State atty has neither responded to discovery request nor
objected. Neither did he return the phone call yesterday.
I have mailed in our motion to compel, which is attached.
My Attorney has given me permission to share
it with friends and concerned citizens who are curious as
to the progress of the case, and particularly whether the
state is showing unusual reluctance to proceed.
motion to compel
Saturday, Mar. 28, 2009 at 3:11 AM
I read that the motion to compel was attached, but where? May we see? Thanks.