Politics

Palm Beach Elections Officials Embarrass County Once Again

The Palm Beach County election nightmare of 2000 -- all those hanging chads, butterfly ballots, Pat Buchanan votes, and silly canvassing-board photos -- seems to have taught elections officials nothing. The county's Supervisor of Elections Office still could not count all the votes last night, delaying a final statewide tally and leaving the governor's race in limbo.

The excuse for Palm Beach County's failure is unclear. Elections Supervisor Susan Bucher told the Palm Beach Post that an employee error "caused votes from 10 precincts to be recounted, delaying the final count until the wee hours."

But that's not what Bucher told WPBF during a live interview posted online at 11:42 last night, when she blamed voters for a "tremendous amount" of problems with absentee

ballots.

"People put Wite-Out on them. They put stickies on them. They've crossed out. They've overvoted and crossed them out," she said.

When pressed on why Palm Beach is apparently the only county in the state with the problem, Bucher said: "I have no idea. You're welcome to take a look, and you guys have been seeing what we're seeing. We see Wite-Out on them, and we're seeing all kinds of creative voting. And so, I think we have some work to do when it comes to voter education and absentee ballots at home."

Saying she has "no idea" why the results are taking so long isn't reassuring. What's worse is that her office told the Post that it was an employee error -- making it clear she truly has no idea.

The Palm Beach County canvassing board is expected to continue reviewing problem ballots at 9 this morning. WPBF asked her when we should expect final results, and Bucher answered quickly: "Tomorrow."

When pressed that it was already tomorrow, Bucher said it depends on how long the canvassing board takes. And considering the canvassing board took weeks during the 2000 recount, that's not encouraging.

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Eric Barton
Contact: Eric Barton