After two days of uncertainty, Bucher appears ready to approve Romney campaign poll watchersby George Bennett | October 25th, 2012
After more than two days of uncertainty that put Mitt Romney‘s campaign legal team on high alert, it appears that Palm Beach County Elections Supervisor Susan Bucher will accept the Romney camp’s designation of 487 poll watchers to monitor voting at county precincts during the Nov. 6 election.
Bucher did not initially accept the Romney poll worker designation forms on Tuesday because they were submitted as an attachment to an e-mail rather than in hard copies. The Romney camp said Bucher also would not accept hard copies signed by an authorized representative of Romney.
The elections chief requested an opinion from Daniel Nordby, the general counsel to the Florida Department of State, on whether forms with an electronic signature were acceptable.
Nordby said in an e-mail Wednesday that the no law prohibits electronic signatures on the poll watcher forms and therefore “such a form is valid and has full force and effect.”
Bucher told The Post‘s Jane Musgrave tonight that she hasn’t seen Nordby’s e-mail yet, but that she’s fine with the electronic submissions if the general counsel is OK with them.
Bucher said she hasn’t seen her e-mails this week because she has been away from her main office at the elections tabulating center in Riviera Beach, where her office has hired temporary workers to copy thousands of absentee ballots that can’t be read by scanners because of a printing mistake.
The Romney campaign submitted its poll worker designation forms Tuesday. With no official word from Bucher on whether they would be accepted or rejected, the Romney campaign’s counsel for Florida, Raquel Rodriguez, sent Bucher a letter today threatening “all appropriate actions in response to any rejection of, or failure to accept as timely filed, the tendered Poll Watcher Designation Forms. And because the election is nearing, it is incumbent upon you to let us know in timely fashion if you will accept or reject the above-described Poll Watcher Designation Forms.”
Rodriguez’s letter says no other Florida county has refused to accept the electronic forms.
Given the history in Florida and Palm Beach County of close and disputed elections, both the Obama and Romney campaigns are expected to deploy hundreds of poll watchers across the county on election day.
Florida law allows parties and candidates to designate a watcher for each voting site to observe voters and elections officials and to “pose any questions regarding polling place procedures directly to the clerk for resolution.”
Gerald Richman, a West Palm Beach attorney acting as counsel for President Obama‘s campaign in Palm Beach County, said poll watchers play a “very important” role in flagging everything from voting machine problems to voting sites not opening on time to claims of voter intimidation.