Palm Beach County’s top elections official was suspended by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis over failures in November’s midterm elections.
DeSantis suspended Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher on Friday, naming Republican lawyer Wendy Link to take her place in an effort to “right the ship,” the Miami Herald reported.
“The elections office in Palm Beach County demonstrated on a national stage that they simply could not comply with the laws of the state and that Supervisor Bucher could not discharge the duties that she was supposed to discharge,” DeSantis said Friday, slamming the Palm Beach County’s elections office as “the keystone cops of elections administration.”
Bucher, a Democrat and former member of the Florida House, held the elections chief position since 2009. Her firing comes a few weeks after outgoing Gov. Rick Scott suspended Brenda Snipes, the former elections supervisor in neighboring Broward County.
“The problems that you saw in Broward and Palm Beach unfairly tarnished the image of the state,” DeSantis said in West Palm Beach, citing ballot counting deadlines that were not met in the contentious election that left races for U.S. Senate, governor and commissioner of agriculture unresolved for weeks after ballots were cast Election Day. General finger-pointing and mounting pressure ensued as the nation’s eyes locked onto the South Florida districts.
“An election that happened a week after Halloween and you ended up not having the recount done until after Christmas,” he said. “Palm Beach County stands alone on that level of ineptitude.”
Bucher is reportedly speaking to an attorney and plans to challenge the governor’s decision.
DeSantis also moved to supersede his predecessor’s suspension of Snipes, also a Democrat, belatedly accepting her resignation letter which she previously submitted in November amid heavy criticism of her handling of recounts under her supervision.
U.S. District Judge Mark Walker ruled last week in a lawsuit brought by Snipes to be reinstated that Scott had overstepped his authority, though he did not return her to her position. Snipes’ original resignation letter, which DeSantis accepted, went into effect Jan. 4.
Florida Democrats blasted DeSantis and his decision on Bucher Friday, calling his “power grab” politically motivated.
“In the United States, our elections are sacred and our elections supervisors are democratically elected — the Governor’s recent power grab, removing Democrats from elected positions, including Susan Bucher, should be seen for what it is, a gross overreach and a politically motivated move to consolidate power and obstruct the will of the people,” Florida Democratic Party chair Terrie Rizzo said, according to The Hill.
West Palm Beach–based attorney, Wendy Link, a member of the State University System’s board of governors, said she would only hold Bucher’s former job for two years and would not be seeking reelection in 2020.
“Over the next two years I’m going to focus on conducting open, accurate and fair elections for the citizens of our county,” she said.
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