Columns

Oh, Susan Bucher, What Have You Done Now?

By: Nancy Smith | Posted: December 10, 2012 3:55 AM
I Beg to Differ
Something (else) is rotten in the Palm Beach County supervisor of elections office.

The voter turnout number.
Susan Bucher

Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher | Credit: State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory


Has anybody scrutinized Palm Beach's crazy Election 2012 voter turnout percentage? It doesn't jibe with any of the other 66 counties' numbers, let alone the two Democratic, Obama-loving counties to the south. It doesn't even jibe with Palm Beach's past turnout pattern.

Here's what I think -- and I'll just come right out and say it:

I think the office of Democratic Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher lost or tossed or otherwise suppressed somewhere between 50,000 and 67,000 votes.

The numbers tell the story.

Presidential Election Voter Turnout Averages -- Palm Beach County

1996 – 70 percent.
2000 – 70 percent.
2004 – 75 percent.
2008 – 72 percent.
2012 – 64 percent.

Sixty-four percent?

State figures tell a different story, with turnout percentages fluctuating only 3 percent to 4 percent from election to election. Palm Beach’s 2008 to 2012 drop was twice the statewide average.

Statewide Presidential Election Turnout Averages

1996 – 67 percent.
2000 – 70 percent.
2004 – 74 percent.
2008 – 75 percent.
2012 – 71 percent.

Incidentally, Broward and Miami-Dade reported their respective turnout at 68 percent, down from 72 percent in 2008. 

Missing votes in Palm Beach County will come as no surprise to Ashley Walker, Florida coordinator of the president's re-election campaign, Obama for America. 

"I know for a fact Ashley was worried about Palm Beach, which is a strong Democratic county," said a political analyst who had stayed close to the Obama campaign. "I heard her tell people around her that the president would need every Democratic vote he could get and she didn't trust Susan Bucher in Palm Beach to get the job done."

In the previous four presidential elections, Palm Beach voter turnout averaged almost 72 percent. In Bucher’s mistake-riddled 2012 general election, 64 percent of PB voters turned out -- meaning that if 64 percent turnout had been at the 72 percent average, 67,000 more ballots should have been counted.

Did the numerous errors and delays and equipment breakdowns in Bucher's office disenfranchise 67,000 voters (870,000 at 72 percent turnout vs. 64 percent turnout)?

It isn't just the 30,000 misprinted ballots that had to be duplicated because nobody checked them over when they came back from the printer. (And, by the way, the full cost of duplication and how the office will pay for it is yet to come to light.) 

Don't forget that the Palm Beach Post found 6,806 more early ballots than the 36,795 represented on Palm Beach County’s election website. The mistake apparently was caused by failure to include in daily totals the early votes cast at the West Boca Library and West Boynton Library.

When those ballots were included, the count rose to 43,601 -- 25,636 Democrats, 9,626 Republicans. Ultimately, the totals were correct on the state website, but it wasn't the first time anybody ever found a vote-count discrepancy on a website because of this Palm Beach County supervisor of elections' miscalculation.

"Her (Bucher's) incompetence is stunning," said political consultant Randy Nielsen, founder and partner of Public Concepts, which is located in West Palm Beach. "The numbers don't lie. She's managed to disenfranchise voters who are primarily Obama Democrats. Her incompetence -- I think it runs through the whole office like a disease -- is equal opportunity, nonpartisan. It goes on election after election, whether it's municipal, state or like this -- when we're voting for the president of the United States." 

The political analyst close to the Obama campaign said the campaign's Florida headquarters received complaints from Palm Beach County voters who "ran into excuses" when they tried to get absentee ballots sent. "In the end, these people were just giving up," he said. "So, do I believe the voter turnout is less than it should be? I sure do."

I tried to reach Bucher late last week but it seems the office answering system, malfunctioning when I tried to get through several months ago, still hasn't been corrected. Call her office (561-656-6200). Push No. 6 for "the administration" -- Bucher's line. The canned voice says, "I'm sorry, I did not hear your selection. Please re-enter your selection now." When you re-enter, you'll get the same thing again. Try more than three times and you're disconnected.

What an embarrassment for Palm Beach County. Maybe Secretary of State Ken Detzner's fact-finding visit this week really will find the facts -- all of them -- giving the governor ammunition to do to Bucher what Gov. Jeb Bush did to Broward County Supervisor of Elections Miriam Oliphant in 2003: fire her for incompetence and mismanagement.



Reach Nancy Smith at nsmith@sunshinestatenews.com or at (850) 727-0859

 

Comments (19)

Beverly Hires
5:10PM DEC 15TH 2012
• Universal hand-counted paper ballots: Germany, Japan, Canada, Switzerland and Sweden stage their elections entirely on hand-counted paper ballots. Electronic voting machines are perfectly designed to steal elections. Ireland has just thrown out its voting machines and moved to paper ballots. We must do the same. This will also have to be won on a state-by-state basis.

• A four-day weekend for voting: The first Saturday-Sunday-Monday-Tuesday in November should constitute a national holiday for voting. High school and college students should be given credit for working the polls and counting the ballots.
vikkit
12:59AM DEC 15TH 2012
That's exactly the conclusion I reached. We need to get this B*#@h out of office. Enough with the crooks.
Frank
12:26PM DEC 11TH 2012
Yes . . . . about that "Maybe Secretary of State Ken Detzner's fact-finding visit this week really will find the facts" . . . .

Reminds me of a related, funny story . . . . seems the Secretary of State's office visited Hillsborough County yesterday to discuss the same type of problems . . . . . . .when the Hillsborough County election officials articulated some of the same points as Susan Bucher when asked Monday how to solve long lines: (1) Return early voting to 14 days; (2) Don't tamp down voter registration by placing additional restrictions on third-party group; and (3) Don't limit early voting sites to libraries and government buildings, they received an interesting (and enlightening) fast response back from the Secretary of State's General Counsel:

"Talk to the Legislature."

As incoming Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections Craig Latimer put it: "I was a little taken aback by that . . . .I was like, I thought that's why you were here."

Didn't we all . . . . . didn't we all . . . . . especially after Detzner had said his goal was to take what he hears to the Legislature in the form of recommendations to make elections run smoothly (without accepting any of the blame, of course) . . . . instead, it now seems like something else, perhaps more devious, may be afoot . . . . . we'll see if something partisan is claimed while in Palm Beach County . . .

Sad, Sad, Pathetic . . . . .
Don Gleichman
9:46AM DEC 11TH 2012
Wow! Didn't know Nancy was still working.

Remembering her from Stuart News days. I.e., her work on CLUSTERING. Still have her original article somewhere in my home office filing system. Wondering if someone (Nancy)? Has a link to that Article Please forward to me. That article commented on England's ability to main GREEN areas inspire its dense human population (far more people per square mile than U.s.)
Jim Colter
1:44PM DEC 10TH 2012
A wise lady once told me... "In order to fix the system, we must become the system". I was present at Palm Beach and St. Lucie Co. Elections Supervisors offices as an observer and could see the prevailing lean to the left in the typical Arrogant Liberal fashion.
Frank
6:55PM DEC 10TH 2012
Of course you were, and you reported all such fraud to the proper authorities and those officials are now in jail, correct? . . . . . . thought not . . . . just more partisan politics of the "Big Lie" hoping someone with a small mind might even believe such nonsense . . . .

I guess if you were actually there, observed this illegal activity, and didn't file a legal complaint against this "fraud", then you must be part of the problem, conspiring in your criminal legal action silence to allow a stolen election . . . . .

Pathetic conspirator . . . . . .
barbara grossman
12:30PM DEC 10TH 2012
I was at both the pbc recount & st lucie record everyday it was out of control, machines breaking down ballots not counted ontime,closed door meetings no one from the public were allowed to enter into.
PS our votes were stolen. We must stop this now before 2014
Frank
1:57PM DEC 10TH 2012
Yes, clearly Republicans were stealing Republican votes . . . . . or doesn't your shrillness even recognize that Tod Mowery, leading the recount, is a Republican County Commissioner who was even called upon by Governor Scott to be temporary chairman of the Commission until recently . . . .

Pathetic partisan petty politics of the "Big Lie" . . . . .
Beverly Hires
1:08PM DEC 10TH 2012
Yes, it was a wake-up call! The way our vote is counted, or not, is an insult. It undermines the who concept of a free and democratic society to its very foundation. Government by consent of the governed with out which, there is no just power.
Beverly Hires
10:51AM DEC 10TH 2012
"I think Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher's office lost or tossed or otherwise suppressed somewhere between 50,000 and 67,000 votes" said the reporter, however, I was there and so were those machines and they probably dropped most of those votes. Having seen first hand the counting and ballot copying and attending untold hours of canvassing, I will back her up on this.. She kept referring to the machines and the vendor as the reason why many of the problems were occurring. I agree with her on that point, not at first, but after watching St Lucie's partial early voter "re-tabulation" where the machines recounted the same ballots and lost 908 votes. I have since read numerous reports and research that reveals many serious problems with the machines and computer software. Besides being so easily hacked and the software being so easy to program to assure a specific result, then tabulators malfunction when tabulating high volumes by dropping large numbers of votes.

The whole point of voting is to have your voice heard and the only way that will happen is if the ballot you cast is actually counted and all ballots cast are counted correctly and that your vote is not diluted by illegal ballots. What we saw in South Florida isn't confined to South Florida. It happened all across the nation where ever the machines did the "counting." It was not limited to Democrat vs Republican races. Prop 37 in California has raised more than eyebrows and election fraud is being claimed.

This is not a partisan issue, it is a civil rights constitutional issue that effects every single american regardless of sex, race, ethnic origin et cetera.

Is the machine the servant or the master?

“Governments are instituted among men, deriving their
just powers from the consent of the governed.”
– Declaration of Independence
Beverly Hires
11:01AM DEC 10TH 2012
Public hand counting paper ballots is an idea whose time has come. The Supreme court of Germany declared machine counting of votes undemocratic and unconstitutional. The Netherlands returned to paper ballots and hand counting in 2010. New Hampshire has been hand counting ballots and it works! The how to isn't that complicated. It is simple. No amount of "upgrades" or "patches" to machines will satisfy me after I was schooled by November's "election."
Karen Bracken
10:15AM DEC 10TH 2012
So what do you plan to do about it!!!
Susan Pissed Off
10:37AM DEC 10TH 2012
Karen Bracken, WHAT TO YOU PLAN TO DO ABOUT IT? Why are you asking everyone else?
Jim Colter
1:32PM DEC 10TH 2012
Seems like a reasonable question to me Susan...What r u gonna do ?
The nefarious actions that took place in this district were not done just
to aid Barack Hussein, but more so, to keep Col. West out of Congress.
He speaks the truth and has the courage to challenge corruption. Florida's citizens need to pressure State Officials for a full "Public Investigation"
Frank
1:50PM DEC 10TH 2012
Yes, why don't you take your "beliefs" that "nefarious actions" were involved and file suit . . . . . I'd love to see those "facts" and depositions of what was done to "aid Barack Hussein" and "keep Col. West out of Congress" . . . . . . . what, not your job? . . . . can't do it? . . . . thought not . . . . . . just another shrill partisan right-wing voice crying (and whining) in the wilderness . . . . .

Pathetic loser . . . . . .
Frank
9:47AM DEC 10TH 2012
Too bad we can't fire pseudo-journalists who jump to demonizing conclusions that are later shown to be other than reported when all the facts are known. You still owe Susan Bucher apologies for the previous two earlier pronouncements of intentional wrong-doings . . . think this one will turn out any different? . . . . . .

Pathetic . . . . .
Gary Van Trump
9:45AM DEC 10TH 2012
Incompetence is obvious. She must want the severance package she's sure to get.
Beverly Hires
11:12AM DEC 10TH 2012
In March 2012, Elections Supervisor Susan Bucher, incorrectly certified two candidates as winners in the Wellington Village Council elections and got the vote totals wrong in the mayor’s race.
Hand recount of paper ballots confirmed that Matt Willhite beat Al Paglia, not the other way around, and John Greene beat Shauna Hostetler.
Furthermore, Bob Margolis barely eked out a victory over incumbent Mayor Darell Bowen. The previous figures showed him winning by a big margin.

At the time, Ms. Bucher blamed software errors for the embarrassing mistakes. “This is not human error,” she said. “This is a computer error.” Dominion Voting Systems provides the county’s voting and tabulating equipment. Later, a spokesperson for Dominion confirmed the error was the machines and software, programmed and serviced by the vendor NOT the supervisor nor her staff.

Of course, since humans program computers, software errors also are human errors. Failure to catch the computer mix-up before the elections results were certified to the state also is a human error that compounded the first error.

The first error was using machines. Hand counting the paper ballots proved that in March.
Beverly Hires
11:16AM DEC 10TH 2012
Point being, my vote, your vote and everyone else's vote is too important to be entrusted to a machine serviced and programmed by private corporation that is unaccountable. We can vote a Supervisor of Elections in or out of office but what about removing the machines and the private corporations that service and program them?

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