During a meeting Thursday evening, Broward County Democrats said they were focused on choosing a candidate who can defeat President Donald Trump in November. They also want to make sure, in the aftermath of the Iowa caucus issues, that all ballots are correctly counted.
The meeting was hosted by the Coral Springs/Parkland Democratic Club. Attendees listened to representatives from four presidential campaigns as well as an expert on voter protection.
“Everyone seems a little concerned that [Iowa] did not get it right,” said Francis Farnum, a club board member and Coral Springs resident. “Especially coming from Florida, where every election you have an issue with the count.”
Farnum said he did not wish the problems on anyone, but he expected more care from the party.
The four representatives included Emma Collum (for Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren); Sunrise Mayor Mike Ryan (for former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg); Mitchel Stolberg (for Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders) and Brianna Schofield (for former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg).
Each representative had five minutes to give a speech and two minutes to answer questions from the crowd of about 35 people.
Several mentioned their candidates’ stances on health care and helping African Americans. Collum noted Warren’s support for women and affordable housing, while Schofield focused on Bloomberg’s actions against the National Rifle Association.
Schofield added that Bloomberg would be on the ballot in the Florida primary, despite not participating in the first four states — Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina – or scheduled to take part in the Democratic debate in Nevada on Feb. 19.
Each said their candidate would support whichever Democratic candidate wins the nomination.
“There are some incredible, incredible candidates and there are some incredible supporters,” said Cullom, pointing to Stolberg. “If it ends up being Bernie in the end, I’ll make sure I am right there with him. So we all just need to be on board with that.”
After the representatives spoke, the discussion moved to Brandon Peters, the voter protection director for the Florida Democratic Party. According to him, voting by mail is the most secure way to vote.
One attendee claimed thousands of Fort Lauderdale residents had been placed in an inactive list after registering to vote. She asked what the party was doing to solve the issue.
Peters said people are placed on the inactive list by the county supervisor of elections for numerous reasons. Such people can still vote, but are removed entirely from the rolls if they do not vote during two election cycles.
The party is making a database accessible to the public, he said, so party volunteers can see who is on the list and help them register again.
The correct counting of ballots was clearly on attendees’ minds, as the meeting occurred three days after the Iowa caucuses, when an app issue delayed the reporting of results.
As of Thursday night, 99 percent of the precincts had reported their results, according to the Associated Press. Sanders and Buttigieg are nearly tied, and the AP said it did not have enough data to declare a winner.
Broward County has its own history with elections — from recounts in 2000 to a hacked system in 2016 to poor ballot design in 2018.
Peters said problems with cybersecurity can occur in the reporting machines, but the party is working with county supervisors of elections, the CIA and other federal agencies to secure the systems from interference.
After the meeting, Coral Springs resident Gayle Encomenderos said she is not too concerned about the candidates’ policy proposals because they only differ slightly She is more concerned with who can win the presidency.
“I am just not finding the one that can really punch it home against [Trump],” Encomenderos said.