Fla. Elections Official Says She Removed Mosque As Polling Site Over Threats

AP

A south Florida mosque chosen as a polling location will no longer receive voters thanks to complaints and threats from local residents.

Elections Supervisor Susan Bucher, who is charged with providing 445 voting locations in Palm Beach County on Election Day, told the Palm Beach Post that she felt pressure to move the polling site from the Islamic Center of Boca Raton to a nearby library.

“We began receiving complaints from voters,” she said Wednesday in an email to the Post’s editorial board. “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 threat to have the location evacuated on Election Day (no name was given during the call), we located the Spanish River Library which is two miles away from the center as an alternative voting location and I called the Center’s President.”

Bucher told the newspaper that she received around 50 anonymous calls about the mosque.

The decision to relocate, which came down last week, stoked charges of discrimination from the Florida chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations and Boca Raton’s two U.S. representatives, Democrats Rep. Lois Frankel and Ted Deutch. Bucher is also a Democrat.

The Islamic Center’s president, Bassem Alhalabi, told WPTV that he was disappointed to hear of the relocation.

“We were very happy to serve the community,” Alhalabi said, noting that the mosque also serves as a hurricane shelter, feeds the homeless, and works with the juvenile justice department.

The Florida Family Association applauded the move, claiming that having a mosque as a polling place would be “unfair to voters and people seeking office” by suppressing voter turnout.

Churches, synagogues, mosques and other religious institutions have traditionally served as polling locations.

h/t The Washington Post

Correction: This post originally cited Washington Post reporting that the Islamic Center had served as a polling site since 2010. 2016 was actually the first year that the center was chosen as a polling location.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Allegra Kirkland is a New York-based reporter for Talking Points Memo. She previously worked on The Nation’s web team and as the associate managing editor for AlterNet. Follow her on Twitter @allegrakirkland.

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