Palm Beach County elections officials working to prevent election night problems
20,000 early voting and absentee ballots counted
11:33 PM, Jan 30, 2012
4:29 AM, Jan 31, 2012
After voters have been bombarded with political advertisements and presidential candidate visits for weeks, much of the attention is soon shifting to the difficult work of elections officials who must count all of the Republican primary votes.
In Palm Beach County, the process has not always gone so smoothly.
Susan Bucher is a woman with a mission. As supervisor of elections in Palm Beach County, Bucher is tasked with overseeing Tuesday's primary.
"I think we are ready to go," said Bucher. "I think it will go smoothly".
This election marks Bucher's 22nd since she was elected in 2009.
"We think we have a pretty good operation going. But, you know, there is always room for improvement," she said.
Palm Beach County consists of 798 precincts, 465 polling stations. Making sure every vote is counted - and counted accurately - is no easy task. Bucher is also challenged with shedding Palm Beach County's election night failures of the past.
Political analyst Brian Crowley points to the 2000 presidential election and the infamous 'hanging chad' situation.
"We all still hold our breath in Palm Beach County on election night on whether we are going to get the results in fast and accurately," said Crowley.
Palm Beach County has also often been among the last of the Florida counties to report full election results.
"It not only threw the entire national election up into the air for 35 days, but it was a very humiliating period for the county," he said.
Bucher, though, is looking forward to Tuesday and beyond. She touts her record as the elections chief over the last three years.
"We have never called the wrong candidate the winner," she said. "We don't have a history under my administration of any of that so I guarantee you, we have changed our operating procedures. We have audits in place and we do not anticipate that ever happening again. We're hoping to outlive our past and move forward."
Polls are open from 7 a.m. through 7 p.m. The first elections results are expected soon after the polls close. Bucher said, as of Monday evening, more than 20,000 absentee and early voting ballots had been collected. Those ballots will be the first to be tabulated, she said.