Florida Five: Scott, Crist debate controversy, Another Palm Beach County ballot debacle

Five of today’s top Florida political stories at your fingertips:

Susan Bucher , PBC Supervisor of elections
Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher

Another election year, another Susan Bucher ballot screw-up – Did you really think Susan Bucher was going to get through an election without mucking something up? Sure enough, the Palm Beach supervisor of elections lived down to expectations. Two years after Bucher’s office sent out judicial-retention questions without section headings on absentee ballots in 423 of the county’s 842 precincts, history repeated itself … well … sort of. New sample ballots will be in the mail by the end of the week to some 740,000 Palm Beach County voters after another printing company error went undiscovered. Read more

Rick Scott, Charlie Crist debate gets off to bizarre start over rogue fan – The live televised debate between Florida Gov. Rick Scott and challenger Charlie Crist got off to one of the most bizarre starts in political history Wednesday night when Scott initially refused to take the stage because of a fan. Yes, a fan. The governor said Crist was in violation of debate rules prohibiting electronic devices by placing a small fan underneath his lectern. Debate moderators initially said Scott had decided he would not appear in the debate at all because of the rules violation. Read more

UF picks Cornell Provost Fuchs as next president – Cornell University’s provost was selected Wednesday as the University of Florida’s next president, replacing Bernie Machen as the state’s largest university continues its drive to become a Top 10 public university nationwide. After three days of interviews and meetings the Board of Trustees named W. Kent Fuchs as the 161-year-old school’s 12th president. Read more

535,000 absentees already cast, Dems lagging but gaining – More than 535,000 absentee ballots have already been cast as of Tuesday night and, as in prior mid-term elections, Republicans have a solid lead in returns. About 48 percent of all ballots cast so far have been by Republicans, 35 percent by Democrats and 17 percent by independent voters. That Republican lead of about 13 percentage points is certainly bigger than during the 2012 presidential elections, when Democratic turnout is generally higher, but it’s slightly less for this time in the election season for a mid-term. Read more

Fla. Dept. of Health to spend $7 million on Ebola preparedness – There are no confirmed cases of the Ebola virus in Florida, but state health officials are spending millions preparing for possible infections. That much was revealed in a letter signed by state Surgeon General John Armstrong, which was supplied to Watchdog.org by a public health joint information center. Armstrong notified CDC Director Thomas Frieden on Tuesday the Florida Department of Health is redirecting over $7 million in funding “to strengthen Florida’s preparedness efforts related to the emerging Ebola threat.” Read more

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