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Boca Raton Universalists pull out as voting site in mosque controversy


A Unitarian congregation in Boca Raton has made it official, withdrawing as a voting site to protest Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher’s pulling a polling place out of a Boca Raton mosque.

On Wednesday, Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Boca Raton forwarded to reporters a formal letter of withdrawal that it sent Bucher on Nov. 12.

“We are saddened that it has come to this. Religious discrimination, and Islamophobia in particular, have been increasing dramatically, even more so since the election,” the group’s secretary, Charlie Cormier, said in an email to reporters. “We had hoped that our county government would not succumb to pressure from that segment of our community. We continue to hope that other government offices resist similar pressures in the future.”

The group — which said it has served as a polling place for decades, most recently for precinct 4160 — had threatened on Aug. 21 to withdraw after the election if Bucher did not restore the mosque in time for the Nov. 8 vote, which she didn’t. It said its rules forbid the congregation to rent to any group that discriminates.

Bucher earlier this summer had selected Islamic Center of Boca Raton, at 3480 N.W. Fifth Ave. near Florida Atlantic University, as a polling place, then decided in July not to use it after she received as many as 50 calls advising her to move the site. Some callers warned her they’d try to block voting or even would call in a bomb threat in order to clear the building.

After the move, Bucher told The Palm Beach Post Editorial Board she felt she had to move the site “when we had a heightened threat that they (phone callers) were going to impede voters. I was very disappointed in our community and saw we have a lot of work to do.”

Bucher’s office didn’t respond Wednesday to requests for comment on the Unitarians’ action.


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