Susan Bucher, Palm Beach Elections Chief: Champion of Civil Liberties

Categories: Broward News

Friends in the Palm Beach Chapter of the ACLU recently asked us if we had any suggestions whom they might grace with its 2013 Harriette Glasner Freedom Award, "for a Palm Beach County resident whose life and work embodies the values and ideals of the Constitution and the ACLU." When do we not have suggestions?

A little thought and a quick review of the past year's events and it clicked: Susan Bucher, Palm Beach County supervisor of elections. 

See Also:

- Palm Beach Voting: Screwed-Up Ballots Scrutinized

There are those, like Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who believe there is no "right" to vote -- at least not for the presidency. More civilized beings accept that we all have a right to say who governs us, and no one this year did more than Susan to enable us to exercise that right. She did so in the face of organized villainy by Gov. Evil Scott and the Taliban Florida GOP, while under withering criticism for problems not of her own making -- problems she addressed with art and aplomb.

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Gov. Scott's voter list purge was the the first hurdle Bucher faced. We lefties have no doubt that Scott's intention was to pare the list of likely Democratic voters. But even if his stated goal -- clearing the list of noncitizens -- was not a mere pretext, Scott bungled the effort so badly it resulted in the resignation of his chief elections officialfederal lawsuits, and a boycott of the purge by county elections officials throughout the state, with Bucher very much in the lead. Scott's purge ended up much ado about nothing.

Bucher also stood up to the GOP Legislature's effort to suppress black and working-class voter turnout, which it did by reducing the time allowed for early voting. Bucher responded with an ingenious and entirely legal maneuver, in-person absentee voting

Bucher also showed great creativity when faced with a vendor's error that resulted in misprints of absentee ballots. Bucher buckled down and improvised a system in which elections workers checked, hand-copied, and corrected 25,000 of the flawed ballots -- all under the watchful eye of candidates' representatives. No legal challenge ensued. 

The absentee ballot corrections extended right through and beyond Election Day, and Bucher seemed to be everywhere during the process, dashing between her office on Military Trail and the ballot-counting facility in Riviera Beach, all the while fielding a barrage of questions from a hypervigilant press.

Predictably, and unfairly, GOP partisans blamed Bucher for the misprinted ballots -- and every slightest hiccup in the election process. Just last week, she was libeled by one right-wing propaganda mill, accused of "tossing" tens of thousands of  ballots. We'd like to see Bucher sue her accuser, but she probably has better things to do. The dogs bark; the caravan moves on. 

For enduring all that abuse and for all her sterling, tireless efforts in defense of the right to vote, we think Bucher would be a terrific choice for ACLU's Glasner award. 

Fire Ant -- an invasive species, tinged bright red, with an annoying, sometimes fatal bite -- covers Palm Beach County. Got feedback or a tip? Contact


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I am a big fan of Susan's and I wanted to add to your list of things she did for democracy. Bucher also uncovered the voter registration fraud scheme from Nathan Sproul's company Strategic Allied Consulting. This company was hired by the national RNC to do Republican voter registration in the swing states.

Her discovery of the fraud led to the uncovering of the same fraud going on in other counties in FL as well as other swing states. Sproul's field staff were forging voter registrations, moving people to gas stations and auto dealerships. The RNC ended up firing the company.

Susan Bucher has done more to protect and ensure citizens are permitted to exercise their right to vote. I am thrilled she is my supervisor of elections.

fire.ant topcommenter

Lida Rodriguez-Taseff, lawyer and founder, Miami-Dade Election Reform Coalition, disputes us. This requires some thought:

I read with interest the Fire Ant’s spirited endorsement of Susan Bucher for the Palm Beach ACLU Chapter’s award.  However, I totally disagree with Fire Ant. 

First, everything Supervisor Bucher did was in the course and scope of her job.  In other words, that’s what she is supposed to do.  Why are we giving her an award for doing what we elect and pay her to do? 

Second,  Fire Ant says: “Predictably, and unfairly, GOP partisans blamed Bucher for the misprinted ballots”.  I ask you, whose fault was it if not hers?  She’s the Supervisor.  She is supposed to have election administration procedures in place to catch these sorts of errors before they happen. 

Third, what about what she did not do?  What about the long lines during early voting and election day?  I know those nice liberals all want to claim that the long lines are due solely to the shenanigans of the evil Republican Legislature and evil Governor in passing laws that made it harder for people to vote.  However, I have to disagree that it was all the fault of the evil doers.  Supervisors knew for months what the constraints would be and other than making noise about the looming train wreck, they did little to adjust to the “new normal”.  They did not force their counties to reallocate resources; did not work with their communities to insure that they had the absolute best poll workers; and did little to open more early voting sites, preferring instead to whine about “too few days”.  By their reasoning, early voting should go on for an entire month, consequences be damned! 

Sorry.  This one does not move me.  It’s a little too much of the liberal knee jerk reaction rather than a thoughtful, fact intensive analysis that focuses on why Supervisors of Elections, including Susan Bucher, are failing us. 

I would be happy to have an intelligent, fact based discussion of election administration issues with Fire Ant.

fire.ant topcommenter

Lida makes some strong points but also some not so strong.CertainlyBucher did what she did in the course of doing her job. Just ascertainly public officials do their jobs with varying degrees ofcommitment and competence. Bucher's commitment is indisputable. Whatremains of Lida's challenge regards competence.

Clearly, Bucher'soffice failed to proof the misprinted ballots before they weredistributed to voters, and we suppose that sort of thing should beroutine. We intend to query Bucher about that, but pending her response,we grant Lida's point--as far as it goes. If perfection is thestandard, no one ever deserves to be labeled champion. And as wepreviously wrote, we feel Bucher resolved that problem artfully, andunder immense pressure.

Regarding what Bucher “did not do,” we'renot sure what Lida thinks was in the supervisor's power. I'm not awarethat supervisors are able to “force their counties to reallocateresources;” that poll workers in Palm Beach were inadequate or--to theextent  they were--that supervisors had the funds, time and resourcesto  hire the “absolute best poll workers” (whatever that means); or toopen enough additional early voting sites in response to “the newnormal.” (Bucher increased the number of early voting sites from 11 in2008 to 14 this year.) 

As far as the supervisors' “whining” and“making  noise,” it seems to us that raising the alarm was exactly whatthe supervisors needed to do, and to belittle their efforts in thatregard  is unfairly dismissive.

We look forward to further commentfrom  Lida, and intend to query the supervisor. But again, pendingBucher's  response, we see her as a champion of voting rights, in theface of  extremely difficult circumstances.


@fire.ant Who's Lida sending to have this intelligent talk?  And while we're talking, will Lida be fetching us sandwiches?

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