Palm Beach County elections chief says chances of meeting recount deadline 'pretty slim'

Susan Bucher sends 'expert team' home with deadline looming

By Peter Burke - Local10.com Managing Editor

RIVIERA BEACH, Fla. - Palm Beach County's elections supervisor said a previous malfunction with the ballot-counting machines will make the chances of meeting Thursday afternoon's recount deadline "pretty slim."

Susan Bucher told reporters Thursday morning, just hours before the state-imposed 3 p.m. deadline, that Tuesday night's mechanical issues caused by overheating delayed the recount, leading to lost ballot counts.

"The likelihood is pretty slim," Bucher said.

When asked why there was nobody feeding the machines at the county's tabulation center during the early morning hours, Bucher said she sent her staff home to rest after several days of working around the clock.

"I need my expert team because this is a very technical process," Bucher said. "I can't have just anybody running this."

Bucher said the goal is to complete the recount by the deadline, even though it's unlikely.

"Well, we're working on it," she said. "We're going to give it our best shot, but the reality is that we were very close two nights ago, and then our machines went down. It was not for lack of human effort. The human effort was there."

Bucher said if they can "reconstitute the tallies that we lost, then we will upload the recount votes."

But, she said, if they do meet the deadline, it will only be for the Senate race.

"Our machines only run one race at a time," Bucher said. "The state has been aware of that for 10 years. They have not extended the deadline."

Bucher said more than a dozen precincts lost "substantial numbers of ballots" when the machines broke down.

Under Florida law, if Palm Beach County can't meet the deadline, it would be required to submit the original count to the state for certification.

"We only have one shot at it. I can't let just anybody do it," Bucher said. "I can't let somebody who hasn't had sleep in two days do it. I needed to have some time, and we have enough time by 3 o'clock if we can reconstitute, but I can't guarantee that we can do that."

Bucher said she takes "full responsibility" if the county can't meet the deadline.

Still, many are left wondering why Palm Beach County seems poised to not be able to accomplish what every other county in the state could.

"Those machines are certified by the state of Florida and they know what the issues are … and yet the deadline stood, even though I have been complaining about it for 10 years, so go ask them," Bucher said.

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