Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher said she did not see it as her “responsibility” to notify political party leaders or candidates of her last-minute decision to extend early voting via in-person absentee ballot Sunday and Monday.
County Republicans have a different perspective.
The decision sparked confusion and outrage, with some even suggesting Bucher, a Democrat, was trying to influence the election.
Katie Ballard, campaign manager for Republican state Rep. Bill Hager, was the first to be tipped off, around 11:30 a.m. Sunday. She said she immediately called GOP party leaders and went to Bucher’s West Palm Beach headquarters.
Republican leaders, she said, had no idea.
When Ballard arrived to find a number of campaign operatives and candidates from the Democratic Party already in position, she said she felt something was “not right,” especially when she saw that Republican campaign signs had been torn down and that no Republican representatives were on scene.
When questioned by BizPac Review, elections officials said they were given strict orders not to talk to the media and that only Bucher could comment (see video).
Bucher, meanwhile, was in Riviera Beach Sunday. She answered only a few questions, curtly, about why she kept many in the dark about her decision to extend voting.
“It is not my responsibility to inform the parties or the candidates,” she said in a brief response. “My only responsibility is to inform the voters, and I did so in a media release.”
When asked why BPR did not receive the release, Bucher said, “I only sent it to popular media.”
“By only notifying choice liberal papers like The Palm Beach Post that absentee ballots would be accepted in person today [Sunday] and Monday, Susan Bucher has come very close to disenfranchising Republican voters in Palm Beach County,” said political strategist Jack Furnari, president of BPR.
Palm Beach County Republican Party Chairman Sid Dinerstein and Vice Chairwoman Margi Helschien said they had not received the media release, either, and were unaware of Bucher’s decision. GOP leaders quickly dispatched poll watchers for the remainder of the voting.
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