Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis on Friday suspended Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher, continuing to follow through on campaign promises to address perceived inadequacies among south Florida officials.
Ms. Bucher, a Democrat, was at the center of controversy during the 2018 midterm elections, struggling along with officials in Broward County to tally votes on time.
“During the 2018 general election, Florida had 65 out of 67 counties that ran good elections,” Mr. DeSantis said. “Supervisor Bucher demonstrated she was unable to comply with the laws of our state and her duties as the Supervisor of Elections and failed to accurately report information released to the number of ballots that had been cast.”
Florida Secretary of State Michael Ertel recommended Ms. Bucher’s removal from office prior to the governor’s announcement.
Mr. DeSantis named Wendy Link, a West Palm Beach lawyer who is a member of Florida’s state university board of trustees, as Ms. Bucher’s replacement.
The ouster follows last week’s suspension of Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel, who oversaw what some say was a flawed response to the Parkland school massacre last year.
Even before Mr. DeSantis took office, his predecessor, then-Gov. Rick Scott, suspended Broward County Elections Supervisor Brenda Snipes.
Ms. Snipes also resigned her position, a move Mr. DeSantis accepted on Jan. 4, but she has also filed a lawsuit against Mr. Scott, claiming his actions were “malicious” and “unnecessary.”
The chaos and secretive vote counting that occurred in Palm Beach and Broward counties in November summoned memories of the great electoral battle in Florida after the 2000 presidential election when George W. Bush beat Al Gore.
Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio and others slammed Broward and Palm Beach officials as unethical, while Sen. Bill Nelson, who was battling for re-election, insisted “every vote be counted.”
Mr. Nelson would eventually lose to Mr. Scott.
Ms. Bucher’s removal is not finalized by the governor’s action Friday. Like other elected officials suspended by executive action, she can appeal, and the final resolution of the matter is up to the state Senate.
Conservatives welcomed Mr. DeSantis’ move.
“Gov. DeSantis is absolutely right to suspend Supervisor Bucher,” said J. Christian Adams, president and general counsel of the Public Interest Legal Foundation. “Unlike the recently suspended supervisors in South Florida, the governor takes election integrity seriously.”
Mr. Adams said problems go beyond last year. He said Ms. Bucher has allowed the county’s voter rolls to become messy, too.
Democrats, though, derided Mr. DeSantis’s move.
“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,” said Florida Democratic Party Chair Terrie Rizzo.
• James Varney can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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