DeSantis suspends Palm Beach County elections supervisor, moves on from Snipes

Governor ousts Bucher, accepts resignation of suspended Broward elections chief

By Peter Burke - Local10.com Managing Editor

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - Gov. Ron DeSantis has suspended Palm Beach County's elections supervisor and accepted the resignation of Broward County's previously suspended elections supervisor.

DeSantis announced Friday in West Palm Beach that he was suspending Bucher and replacing her with real estate attorney Wendy Link.

Florida's new governor chastised Bucher for failing to meet November's election recount deadlines.

"The elections office in Palm Beach County demonstrated on a national stage that they simply could not comply with the laws of the state," DeSantis said.

DeSantis said in the days after the Nov. 6 general election, Palm Beach County "failed to report the number of ballots canvassed as required by Florida law and what other counties were able to do, including, I might add, Bay County, which a month before had been hit with a Category 5 hurricane."

Gov. Ron DeSantis announces the suspension of Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher, Jan. 18, 2019, outside the old Palm Beach County courthouse in downtown West Palm Beach, Florida.

The governor's executive order outlined Bucher's failure to perform her elected duties, including not reporting the number of ballots that had been canvassed and allowing her staff to make voter intent determinations and fill out duplicate ballots in violation of the law.

DeSantis also chided Bucher for how her office performed during the statewide recount.

"Palm Beach County did not complete the state-mandated recount until 50 days after the election," DeSantis said. "So an election that happened the week after Halloween, you ended up not having the recount done until after Christmas. Palm Beach County stands alone in that level of ineptitude."

Bucher has been Palm Beach County's elections supervisor since 2009. The Democrat previously served in the Florida House from 2000 to 2008.

Link is the managing partner of a West Palm Beach law firm. She currently serves on the board of trustees for the State University System of Florida.

Wendy Link is introduced as Palm Beach County's elections supervisor, Jan. 18, 2019, outside the old Palm Beach County courthouse in downtown West Palm Beach, Florida.

"She does not plan to run for re-election," DeSantis said. "She is going to right the ship, run a smooth election in 2020 and then return to the private sector."

Link, who grew up in Palm Beach County, said her goal is to restore voter confidence to the election process.

"I'm going to ensure that Palm Beach County is well-prepared for every election, that everyone in our county has the assurance and the sense of security that their vote will count," she said.

DeSantis also said he was ending the state's legal battle with Dr. Brenda Snipes by accepting her resignation, formally terminating her duties.

"I am deciding to execute my authority as governor to accept her resignation, which she had previously tendered, which is effective Jan. 4," DeSantis said.

DeSantis said the move ends the ongoing litigation between Snipes and the state "that'll save the taxpayers a lot of money."

Snipes submitted her resignation in a November letter to former Gov. Rick Scott, who eventually suspended her from office and appointed Peter Antonacci to fill the role. Snipes then rescinded her resignation and filed a federal lawsuit against Scott and Senate President Bill Galvano seeking reinstatement.

DeSantis suspended Bucher exactly one week after removing Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel from office and appointing Gregory Tony, a former Coral Springs police sergeant, to take his place.

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