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Palm Beach’s Duplicate Ballots Issue

Posted by FactReal on November 10, 2018

FOX GUARDING THE HENHOUSE
RE: Emergency hearing held this morning as requested by Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher.

Summary as reported by The Palm Beach Post
Gov. Scott’s attorneys claimed Bucher allowed election workers to duplicate ballots without having witnesses watch as required by law. [Read the lawsuit.]
– Bucher told the judge this morning she could not comply with the original 10 a.m. Saturday deadline to retrieve the ballots because they have “already been intermixed into the stream of ballots and are already included in the vote tally.”
– The judge questioned the way Bucher’s office duplicated the ballots and said her research shows a canvassing board should make determinations in duplicating ballots.
Bucher said workers duplicated the ballots while she [Bucher], who is a member of the canvassing board, was present — and if there was a problem, they would give the ballot to the canvassing board.
– Bucher said the duplications were done in tandem and never by one person. She said the procedure is lawful and she adopted it this year from larger counties.
Judge says she has sworn affidavits from witnesses who say this in tandem procedure was not occurring, that rather unilateral decisions were being made.
– But suddenly by Saturday early evening they were able to retrieve the duplicates: By the time Bucher came back from the hearing, her staff told her they had already started to retrieve the duplicated ballots without her knowing.
– Bucher estimates the number of duplicated ballots to be about 9,800.

PalmBeachElectionSusanBucher - Edited

The Palm Beach Post’s Alexandra Seltzer reported from the courthouse today:

PBC supervisor: Recount deadline ‘impossible’ to meet
By Alexandra Seltzer
#https://www.palmbeachpost.com/news/20181110/pbc-supervisor-recount-deadline-impossible-to-meet

[Emphasis added]

The second deadline Bucher faced Saturday was set by circuit court Judge Krista Marx. The judge Saturday morning ordered Bucher to retrieve and present to the county’s canvassing board by noon duplicate ballots that are in question. Duplicate ballots occur when ballots can’t be sent through tabulation machines. Those are then copied, or duplicated, if they were damaged, or if voters didn’t fill them out properly, or if the individual “over-voted,” meaning they voted for more than one candidate in a race.

Marx had initially ordered that Bucher present the ballots by 10 a.m. Saturday but Bucher argued that it could take two to three days to comply because staff would have to go through nearly 1,000 boxes. Marx extended the deadline to noon while acknowledging “they’re not gonna meet it.” But Marx said there must be “substantial compliance” with her order.

By Saturday evening, Bucher said she didn’t meet Marx’s noon deadline, but expected to be able to soon.

“We have tried really hard to substantially comply,” she said.

[…]

Bucher did meet a separate noon deadline, however, which was submitting the county’s unofficial voting results to the state. All candidates in the four races saw a bump in votes, with Democrats seeing a larger increase.
[…]

The duplicating of ballots issue was first debated in court on Friday when Gov. Scott’s attorneys claimed Bucher allowed election workers to duplicate ballots without having witnesses watch as required by law.

In her petition for Saturday morning’s emergency hearing, Bucher said she could not comply with the original 10 a.m. deadline to retrieve the ballots because they have “already been intermixed into the stream of ballots and are already included in the vote tally.”

While Scott’s attorneys claimed there are about 650 ballots in question, Bucher said the number was “much more substantial.”

Marx questioned the way Bucher’s office duplicated the ballots and said her research shows a canvassing board should make determinations in duplicating ballots.

Bucher said a staff of about 10 to 12, including senior managers, permanent and temporary workers, duplicated the ballots while Bucher, who is a member of the canvassing board, was present — and if there was a problem, they would give the ballot to the canvassing board. Senior managers reviewed the work, she said.

Bucher said the process follows state statute that says: “The canvassing board may employ such clerical help to assist with the work of the board as it deems necessary, with at least one member of the board present at all times, until the canvass of the returns is completed.”

The duplications were done in tandem, Bucher said, and never by one person. She said the procedure is lawful and she adopted it [a new procedure] this year from larger counties, including Orange and Hillsborough.

Bucher said she and her staff figured out plans of how they would go through the ballots to find the duplicates, but hadn’t actually gone through them before Saturday’s hearing.

Clearly annoyed, Marx said it appears Bucher has done “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah” since Friday to comply with her order.

But by Saturday early evening, Bucher shared good news: By the time Bucher came back from the hearing, her staff told her they had already started to retrieve the duplicated ballots without her knowing. And, she no longer expected the job to take up to three days.

She estimates the number of duplicated ballots to be about 9,800 but not all will have to go before the canvassing board because some already were there when staff had a question during the duplication process.

“I anticipate we can conclude with that today and provide the judge with a status hearing and let her know we gave every effort to meet as close to that deadline as possible,” Bucher said.

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