Susan Bucher, the supervisor of elections in Palm Beach County, Fla., was suspended on Friday by the state’s new governor, Ron DeSantis, after problems in her county contributed to chaos during the state’s midterm election recount.
In an executive order, Gov. DeSantis said that Ms. Bucher had demonstrated incompetence and neglect of duty, resulting in systemic problems that prevented Palm Beach County from completing a state-mandated recount until Dec. 26.
“An election that happened the week after Halloween, you ended up not having the recount done until after Christmas,” the governor said at a news conference on Friday. “Palm Beach County stands alone in that level of ineptitude.”
Gov. DeSantis appointed Wendy Sartory Link, a West Palm Beach lawyer and Republican, to replace Ms. Bucher, a Democrat who was halfway through a four-year term. At the news conference Friday, Ms. Link said she will serve out the remainder of Ms. Bucher’s term but does not plan to run for election in 2020.
Ms. Bucher did not respond to an email request for comment, and a phone call to her office was not immediately returned.
In November, she defended her efforts as her county hustled to retabulate thousands of votes.“I am working as hard as I can, and I can’t give any more,” she said then, noting she had not been home for three days. “I don’t think that you’re going to find somebody else that has the dedication.”
But Palm Beach County was criticized because it did not own the modern, high-speed tabulation machines required to conduct recounts in multiple races simultaneously. Three statewide races were initially too close to call, including the race for governor, which Gov. DeSantis won after a contentious recount.
“Supervisor Bucher had years of foreknowledge that her county needed to buy new equipment, yet she chose not to,” Michael Ertel, the newly appointed Republican secretary of state, wrote in a letter to Mr. DeSantis this week, recommending her removal.
In the letter, Mr. Ertel also said that Ms. Bucher had refused to install servers to combat cyberterrorism, obstructed access to voting by putting a polling place inside a gated community and allowed damaged ballots to be duplicated behind closed doors, rather than in the presence of appropriate witnesses.
In his announcement on Friday, Gov. DeSantis also formally accepted the resignation of Brenda C. Snipes, the former supervisor of elections for Broward County, who was also criticized for mistakes during the recount. Dr. Snipes, an elected Democrat, had been in a standoff with the former Republican governor, Rick Scott, who moved to suspend her even after she announced plans to resign.
With the acceptance of her resignation by the new governor, Dr. Snipes “no longer has the stain of a suspension on her record,” a lawyer for Dr. Snipes, Burnadette Norris-Weeks, said on Friday.
“She is moving on with her life and career,” Ms. Norris-Weeks said.
The Florida constitution allows the governor to suspend county officials for wrongdoing or incompetence. Gov. DeSantis singled out Broward County and Palm Beach County for tarnishing Florida’s image during the recent recount, which harked back to 2000 when the presidential race between George W. Bush and Al Gore was kept in limbo.
“We have hard-fought elections here, which is all the more reason we need to get this right once and for all,” the governor said. “We cannot have another circus.”