A decision to remove a mosque from a list of voting locations in Palm Beach County follows a similar request to remove a church from the voting roster, the Florida County election official explained in an email to The Arab Daily News. The decision to remove the mosque from the voting roster was taken in response to threats and to protect the safety of voters and the mosque itself
By Ray Hanania
Susan Bucher, the Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections, confirmed she removed the Islamic Center of Boca Raton from the list of polling voting locations after 50 people complained they didn’t want to vote in an Islamic center, but she noted that she did the same thing when complaints involved a local church.
Islamic Center of Boca Raton, 3480 NW 5th Avenue in Palm Beach County in Florida had been identified as a voting location, or polling place, but was removed from the list as a result of the complaints that also include threats of violence.
Bucher explained the Mosque was tapped as a voting location when precinct boundaries were changed in April causing one location to have too many voters. She said that although she received some complaints, she was concerned and moved to act when several people suggested there might be violence.
The threat to blow up the voting location at the mosque came in an anonymous telephone call, Bucher said in a statement released to the Arab Daily News. She said that she was concerned about safety and expressed her apologies for the inconvenience to the Imam at the mosque.
She released the following statement in response to our inquiry.
Statement from Supervisor Susan Bucher:
My staff first contacted the Islamic Center in April 2016 when we completed redistricting, because the changing of the precinct lines created a polling location with too many voters and we wanted to split the precincts into another voting location for ease and access to our voters. We considered the use of the Center as a community building.
Once we sent the revised Voter Information Cards we began receiving complaints from voters. Some felt uncomfortable voting at the Islamic Center. When we received a call that indicated individuals planned to impede voting and maybe even call in a bomb treat to have the location evacuated on Election Day (no name was given during the call), we located the Spanish River Library which is 2 miles away from the center as an alternate voting location and I called the Center’s President. I expressed my deepest apology to the President and his members and explained that my responsibility as the supervisor was to open 445 polling locations on Election Day that were adequate and accessible to the voters in accordance with F.S. 101.71 and I was not in a position to address world political issues. My responsibility is to conduct elections. He understood but was disappointed with our decision.
This is not the first time moving a polling location due to voters being uncomfortable. We moved from a church several years ago when the priest refused to stop putting anti-abortion messages on his marquee on Election Day.
Clearly Bucher’s action was taken for the right reasons, although the protests still reflect the racism that is inherent in this country against Arabs and Muslims, and also reflects the tone of the current battle for president of the United States between Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump.
Click here to view the list of voting locations in Palm Beach County, Florida.