January 18, 2019 02:22 PM
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis suspended a county elections supervisor Friday who failed to meet deadlines during recounts after November's election.
DeSantis said Palm Beach elections supervisor Susan Bucher violated state law by not completing recounts before a state mandated deadline and by mishandling ballots.
"The elections office in Palm Beach County demonstrated on a national stage that they simply could not comply with the laws of the state," DeSantis said.
Bucher is a former Democratic state representative who has held the elections position since 2008. DeSantis named lawyer Wendy Link to replace her. A raucous crowd watched the announcement, with Bucher supporters cursing and shouting while others cheered the decision.
Florida had recounts in three statewide races: governor, U.S. Senate and agriculture commissioner. Palm Beach struggled with outdated machines that broke down and could handle only one recount at a time. A legislative seat also required a recount in the county.
DeSantis said Bucher didn't finish recounts until 50 days after the election — well after the statewide election results were certified.
"Palm Beach County stands alone in that level of ineptitude. They've truly been the Keystone Cops of elections administration," DeSantis said.
The state Senate will have the final say on whether Bucher will be permanently removed from office.
Bucher didn't immediately return a call seeking comment. Palm Beach County Tax Collector Anne Gannon, a Bucher supporter, said Bucher told her she intends to fight the suspension either in the courts or before the Senate
DeSantis also said he would accept the resignation of Broward County elections supervisor Brenda Snipes, who also had problems counting ballots. Snipes announced in December that she planned to resign Jan. 4, but then outgoing Gov. Rick Scott suspended her. Snipes is fighting the suspension in federal court.
Scott was narrowly elected to the U.S. Senate, one of the races that required a recount.
Link will not seek to be elected to the Palm Beach post after finishing the term.
"She is going to right the ship, run a smooth election in 2020, and then return to the private sector," DeSantis said.
Farrington reported from Tallahassee.
By TERRY SPENCER and BRENDAN FARRINGTON
Updated: January 18, 2019 02:22 PM
Created: January 18, 2019 02:04 PM
(Copyright 2019 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)