Florida governor suspends Palm Beach County elections supervisor

Florida governor suspends Palm Beach County elections supervisor
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Florida Gov. Ron DeSantisRonald Dion DeSantisFlorida gov says arrested Giuliani associate was seen as a top Trump supporter in the state Backlash erupts at video depicting Trump killing media, critics WHCA calls on Trump to denounce video depicting him shooting media outlets MORE (R) moved on Friday to suspend the top elections official in Palm Beach County.

DeSantis said that he would replace Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher with Wendy Link, a West Palm Beach–based attorney and member of the State University System’s board of governors.

Palm Beach was among the counties at the center of a lengthy recount process that left the outcomes of three statewide races hanging in the balance for weeks after Election Day.

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“The elections office in Palm Beach County demonstrated on a national stage that they simply could not comply with the laws of the state and that Supervisor Bucher could not discharge the duties that she was supposed to discharge,” DeSantis said.

In his comments on Friday, DeSantis blasted Palm Beach County’s elections office as incompetent, saying that officials there are “the keystone cops of elections administration.”

Speaking to reporters, Link said that she will not run for elections supervisor in 2020. Instead, she wanted to ensure that the office is prepared for the next round of elections, including upgrading outdated voting systems.

“Over the next two years I’m going to focus on conducting open, accurate and fair elections for the citizens of our county,” she said.

The decision to suspend Bucher, who has served as the county’s supervisor of elections since 2009, came nearly two months after DeSantis’s predecessor, Rick Scott, removed the top elections official in neighboring Broward County, Brenda Snipes.

Like Palm Beach County, Broward’s elections office drew intense scrutiny during the weeks-long recount because of the slow pace of the process and alleged irregularities.

Snipes previously submitted her resignation on Nov. 18 amid mounting criticism over her office’s handling of the recount.

But before her scheduled departure from office, Scott, now a senator, suspended her, prompting Snipes to withdraw her resignation and file a lawsuit in federal court asking to be reinstated.

U.S. District Judge Mark WalkerBradley (Mark) Mark WalkerGOP lawmakers offer new election security measure California inspires other states to push to pay college athletes To boost minority serving institutions, bipartisan Future Act needs immediate action MORE handed down a ruling in that case last week, saying that Scott had overstepped his authority in suspending Snipes.

But Walker also declined to reinstate the former elections supervisor and directed DeSantis to issue a new order by the end of the month justifying Snipes’s ouster.

In another surprised move on Friday, DeSantis rescinded Scott's suspension of Snipes and moved instead to accept her resignation, which went into effect Jan. 4. 

DeSantis’s decision on Friday to suspend Bucher drew a fierce rebuke from Florida Democratic officials, who accused the governor of abusing his power.

"In the United States, our elections are sacred and our elections supervisors are democratically elected — 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 Terrie Rizzo, the chair of the Florida Democratic Party.

--Updated at 2:44 p.m.