First election since recount goes well for new supervisors in Broward and Palm Beach

Coral Springs elected a new mayor, voters in Hollywood and Fort Lauderdale agreed to raise their taxes to finance new public safety headquarters, and newly appointed elections supervisors in Broward and Palm Beach counties handled their first Election Day without drama Tuesday as voters there hit the polls for the first time since the disastrous November recounts.

Just weeks after their elected predecessors were removed from office, supervisors Pete Antonacci of Broward County and Wendy Sartory Link of Palm Beach County passed their first test. A small minority of the voters in both counties cast ballots in cities where contests for mayor and city commission were on the ballot as well as bond initiatives, giving the two election officials a chance to hold something of a soft opening.

“Everything is going smooth,” said Mary Hall, chief deputy supervisor in Broward. “All our precincts opened on time and we’re just having a good Election Day.”

Hall spoke to reporters on a conference call around 3 p.m. and said the office had received no complaints. Antonacci was unavailable, she said, because he was visiting precincts in each of the seven cities holding votes — Coconut Creek, Coral Springs, Deerfield Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Hollywood, Miramar and Pembroke Park.

Hall said Antonacci, who was sworn into office in December, voted Tuesday morning in Fort Lauderdale, where he established a residence after then-Gov. Rick Scott appointed him to the position. Scott appointed the Republican Antonacci, his former general counsel, after suspending longtime Broward elections supervisor Brenda Snipes.

Florida’s new governor, Ron DeSantis, rescinded Scott’s suspension and accepted Snipes’ Jan. 4 resignation.

Though problems were unlikely during such a low-turnout election — a little more than 1 in 10 eligible voters participated in either county, according to unofficial results — the smooth day should help the two elections offices regain their footing after they became national punchlines during the 2018 midterms.

Broward struggled in November to handle a massive mail ballot dump on Election Day and then misplaced ballots during the recount. Palm Beach didn’t finish its recount until late December due to its reliance on outdated machines that were unable to handle the strain of an unprecedented three statewide recounts in races for governor, U.S. Senate and agricultural commissioner.

Palm Beach has since agreed to purchase new machines and the state has decided to decertify Palm Beach’s Sequoia vote tabulators, although the county was still using the old machines Tuesday. Link, who was appointed by DeSantis in January, said the equipment was serviced and tested before the election. In total, 16 municipalities held elections Tuesday in Palm Beach County.

“Even though we have the old machines we were able to get maintenance on them so we feel confident with what we have,” she said in an interview shortly before polls closed.

Though turnout was small Tuesday, the races on the ballot were important.

In Broward, Coral Springs elected Scott Brook as mayor, replacing the late Walter “Skip” Campbell, and Wayne Messam was reelected as mayor in Miramar. Voters in Fort Lauderdale and Hollywood also passed bond initiatives to fund a new police stations and parks.