Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has done more in a month to clean up Florida’s trouble electoral system then Rick Scott was able to do in eight years. The corrupt and/or moronic Brenda Snipes has been suspended as elections director for Broward County, the only outstanding issue there is whether she will be allowed to retire rather than be fired. Today he dropped the hammer on the equally incompetent Susan Bucher who mismanaged elections in Palm Beach County based on the recommendation of the secretary of state.
Here's the letter to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis from Secretary of State Mike Ertel that preceded the suspension of Palm Beach County elections supervisor Susan Bucher https://t.co/4tGiGO092l
— Steve Bousquet (@stevebousquet) January 18, 2019
In planning the election, Supervisor Bucher chose polling places without consideration of the potential barriers for Election Day voters, nesting one polling place within the walls of a gated community, thus denying voters new to the community the opportunity to cast an Election Day ballot in violation of F.S. 101.048.
When voting completed, and vote totals were timely being reported throughout the state in accordance with F.S. 102.141, Palm Beach County struggled to submit updated results with each reporting deadline. Voters in the state’s third largest county were left wondering who won, who lost, and once again, what was going on with their elections office.
Adding to that, and in clear violation of F.S. 101.5614(4), and 101.68, Supervisor Bucher repeatedly refused to allow physically damaged ballots to be duplicated in the presence of the canvassing board, instead opting to have it take place behind closed doors. It took a candidate’s lawsuit and a court order to bring that process out in the open.
Supervisor Bucher also chose to deny the public and members of the media the opportunity to observe the open process, as Florida law demands. Her stubborn secrecy culminated in a threat to have members of the media arrested for simply doing their job of observing the counting of ballots. Once again, a lawsuit, this time filed by national media outlets, was needed to provide transparent, open elections in Palm Beach County.
Throughout the recount, Supervisor Bucher blamed faulty equipment for her inability to complete the multiple recounts on time. While the equipment she refused to replace is certainly at the core of many of the missed deadlines, the fault is not with the equipment. Supervisor Bucher had years of foreknowledge that her county needed to buy new equipment, yet she chose not to. Supervisor Bucher’s supervision of staff is also a factor. It was noted by an observer the tabulation system had been modified with a paper clip permanently affixed to the “enter” key, in effect forcing an overheating of the system.
It is no surprise the ongoing calamity resulted in Palm Beach County missing recount deadlines. The county was alone in failing to meet all ordered machine and manual recount deadlines, in violation of F.S. 102.141, and F.S. 102.166.
In all, it took until 50 days after Election Day for Palm Beach County’s elections office to complete the ordered recounts which other counties had completed in a quarter of the time.
At a news conference at The Historical Museum of Palm Beach, DeSantis said he would follow Secretary of State Mike Ertel’s recommendation to suspend Bucher in order “to right the ship” in Palm Beach County.
DeSantis said Palm Beach County didn’t complete the state-mandated recounts until after Christmas, tarnishing the state’s image and creating a national embarrassment.
“Palm Beach County stands alone in that level of ineptitude,” DeSantis said. “They truly have been the keystone cops of election administration.”
It is refreshing to see a chief executive who is not afraid to use his constitutional authority in order to ensure that the state’s elections are orderly and conducted according to law. One wonders why Florida has been able to operate as it has as though the 2000 recount never happened.