■ Judge re­bukes Palm Beach County elec­tions head over du­pli­cate bal­lots.

South Florida Sun-Sentinel (Sunday) - - Front Page - By Skyler Swisher ss­[email protected]­tinel.com, 561-243-6634 or @SkylerSwisher

A judge re­buked Palm Beach County’s elec­tions chief Su­san Bucher Satur­day morn­ing, doubt­ing she could meet a noon dead­line to turn over du­pli­cated bal­lots sought by Gov. Rick Scott’s Se­nate cam­paign.

Cir­cuit Court Judge Krista Marx said Bucher should have sub­mit­ted im­prop­erly com­pleted bal­lots to the county’s Can­vass­ing Board, in­stead of al­low­ing her staff to make de­ci­sions on voter in­tent and fill out du­pli­cate bal­lots to feed through ma­chines.

“Ev­ery­thing I have says the Can­vass­ing Board must make the de­ter­mi­na­tion not your staff mem­bers. … The lan­guage is un­am­bigu­ous that it is for the can­vass­ing board to make the de­ter­mi­na­tion,” Marx said.

Bucher told the judge it could take two to three days to re­trieve the bal­lots be­cause the du­pli­cated bal­lots have been in­ter­mixed with other bal­lots. The orig­i­nal bal­lots are stored else­where and would need to be matched with the du­pli­cated bal­lots.

The judge orig­i­nally gave Bucher un­til 10 a.m. Satur­day to turn over those du­pli­cated bal­lots. She ex­tended the dead­line in an emer­gency hear­ing Satur­day morn­ing to have “sub­stan­tial com­pli­ance” by noon, while adding “they’re not go­ing to meet it.”

Scott’s Se­nate cam­paign filed the law­suit, al­leg­ing that Bucher al­lowed her elec­tions staff to du­pli­cate bal­lots with­out wit­nesses as re­quired by law. Bucher said her staff work­ing in two-mem­ber teams would du­pli­cate da­m­aged or im­prop­erly com­pleted bal­lots so they could be fed through scan­ners.

Scott’s at­tor­neys es­ti­mated there could be 650 of these bal­lots, but Bucher said that num­ber is likely “much more sub­stan­tial.”

Bucher said her staff was well-trained, and the process was law­ful be­cause of a statute al­low­ing a “Can­vass­ing Board to em­ploy cler­i­cal help to as­sist in count­ing bal­lots.”

A mix­ture of se­nior man­agers and tem­po­rary staff made de­ci­sions, Bucher said, and she was present dur­ing the process. Any prob­lem­atic bal­lots were re­ferred to the Can­vass­ing Board.

Marx ex­pressed dis­may that more had not been done to com­ply with her orig­i­nal or­der.

“It’s my opin­ion zip-adee-doo-dah has been done to com­ply,” she said.

Pro­test­ers greeted Bucher when she left the court­house Satur­day, yelling that she “should be locked up.”

In Broward County, a judge or­dered that Broward County elec­tions chief turn over in­for­ma­tion on the num­ber of bal­lots cast and other voter in­for­ma­tion.

The Scott cam­paign has re­ceived that in­for­ma­tion and is in the process of re­view­ing it, said Chris Hart­line, a cam­paign spokesman.

Palm Beach County elec­tions of­fi­cials started their ma­chine re­count in the U.S. Se­nate race at 5 p.m. Satur­day. There are three statewide re­counts — for Se­nate, gover­nor and agri­cul­ture com­mis­sioner — and one for a state House seat in south­ern Palm Beach County.

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