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Politics

Americans for Prosperity: 'Incompetent' Palm Beach Elections Supervisor Susan Bucher Must Resign

October 31, 2012 - 7:00pm

The Florida director of a conservative advocacy group is demanding the resignation of the Palm Beach County elections supervisor after reports Tuesday that yet another ballot print snafu has struck the county that Time magazine once called the Capital of Florida Corruption.

The Palm Beach Post reported Tuesday that some 500 faulty absentee ballots were mailed out by Democratic elections supervisor Susan Buchers office. The ballots contain duplicates of three Amendment questions, and omit another one entirely.

Recipients of the flawed ballots are being asked to vote twice on Florida Amendments 1 (Health Care), 2 (Veterans Property Tax), and 3 (State Revenue Limitation), while being denied any opportunity to vote on Amendment 5; if passed, Amendment 5 would hold the judiciary more accountable to the legislative branch by, among other things, requiring that all gubernatorial appointments to the Florida Supreme Court be confirmed by the state Senate.

Amendment 5 is being opposed by Buchers Democratic Party and several other leftist outfits, including the Florida Bar board of governors, the American Civil Liberties Union, the League of Women Voters, and the Service Employees International Union.

Its not the first time this election cycle let alone in others that Buchers office has found itself making this kind of mistake. About a month ago, she sent out some 60,000 absentee ballots missing the proper headings for the merit-retention races of three controversial state Supreme Court justices Barbara Pariente, R. Fred Lewis, and Peggy Quince who are accused by critics of being left-wing judicial activists. Because the voting machines can't count the misprinted ballots, the supervisor of elections office has had to hire dozens of employees for hundreds of hours of work to properly hand-copy all votes onto the correct ballots.

Absentee voters are traditionally Republican-leaning, therefore these errors raise concerns that conservative and libertarian-minded voters might miss out on registering NO votes for the justices, and a YES vote on Amendment 5.

Sunshine State News contacted ballot printer Runbeck Elections Services and spoke to Kevin Bannon, the companys president. Although his company accepted blame for the 60,000 faulty ballots sent out a month ago, he told the News this latest batch of 500 was not printed by Runbeck, but by Buchers office.

Five hundred replacement ballots are being mailed out to those voters, but its unclear when the voters can expect to receive them, or whether they will be able to mail them out in time to be received by the elections office on Nov. 6. Buchers office did not return multiple requests for comment.

This kind of repeated incompetence demands removal from office, Slade OBrien, Florida director of Americans for Prosperity, told Sunshine State News. It is now clear that Palm Beach County needs a new supervisor who will take responsibility for her office and can actually guarantee the integrity of an election.

Asked whether he thought it coincidental that both printing errors implicated the judiciary, OBrien told the News, It certainly should raise a few eyebrows.

Restore Justice 2012, the nonprofit which is leading the campaign against retaining the justices, issued its own statement on the matter:

Restore Justice is concerned by several recent media reports that call into question the basic integrity of the retention campaigns of Justices Pariente, Quince and Lewis, the statement reads in part. The justices campaigns and tenure have been a comedy of errors and disregard for Floridas voters and Constitution.

You cant make this stuff up, said Jesse Phillips, president of Restore Justice. I guess this is what happens when politicians [i.e., Justices Pariente, Lewis, and Quince] are desperate to get re-elected.

Palm Beach County has been called by Time magazine the Capital of Florida Corruption. Besides the more than half-dozen election kerfuffles suffered under Bucher and her predecessors, several county commissioners have ended up in federal prison over the last seven or so years.

The beat goes on. As Sunshine State News first reported last week, Dave Aronberg, Democratic candidate for Palm Beach County state attorney, received some $14,000 in campaign contributions from a medical and lawyer referral service, while that service was being investigated for deceptive and unfair trade practices by Republican Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi. And now Aronberg, who was serving as one of Bondis assistant attorneys general at the time, is himself being investigated.

Reach Eric Giunta ategiunta@sunshinestatenews.comor at (954) 235-9116.

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