Watching the count
THE 2000 ELECTION RETURNS
Clips from the Progressive Review
FUN WAYS TO WIN ELECTIONS
HOW TO DO IT RIGHT
CENTER FOR VOTING & DEMOCRACY
IN LEGAL ANALYSIS
It's the job of the legislative to write the law, and it's the job of the executive to interpret the law. -- President-elect George W. Bush explaining the Florida situation
You can't let a statute stand in the way of the will of the voters -- Juan Williams
THINGS WE HAVE LEARNED
FROM THIS ELECTION
Machine counts work very well. The difference in the hand-count in Florida compared to the machine count was the equivalent of 2 sheets in ten reams of copy paper.
Hand counts can work pretty well -- provided you do them on nationwide TV. Hand counts still rely excessively on the honesty, skill and eyesight, not to mention endurance, of the counters.
Reporters who say hand recounts are better than machine recounts should be required to do the next one themselves, instead of just standing around talking about it.
There is no Democratic Party. The most astounding thing about the hand counts was that the Democrats did not do better. In old-time Chicago, ward leaders who only came up with only about 1,200 new votes for their candidate out of six million cast would no longer ward leaders. But as with almost everything else, illusion has replaced substance. Thus, the Democrats were bursting with lawyers and consultants, but good old loyal party hacks were hard to find.
WATCHING THE COUNT
JOHN MCCASLIN, WASHINGTON TIMES: "It is interesting to me, as a lifetime Floridian, that the only places in Florida that Al Gore chose to have votes recounted are the three counties that are populated mostly by people who have moved here from other states or countries," David Owens points out to Inside the Beltway. "The counties populated mostly by lifetime Floridians did not have the vote problems. I think that those who are implying that Floridians cannot get things right should place the blame where it should lie: squarely on the shoulders of those whose favorite words are, 'This is the way we did it up North.'-- WASHINGTON TIMES
PUTTING IT BEHIND US
I know it's hard to believe, given that we still don't have resolution yet on who our next president will be, but the New Jersey primary is just over six months away, the general election is actually less than a year away, and time waits for no man. - GOP press secretary Bill Pascoe explaining why he is leaving his job to help run Bret Schundler's campaign for New Jersey governor
WATCHING THE COUNT
MIAMI HERALD: The Florida Supreme Court made hash of Florida's election law, which is riddled with inconsistencies and contradictions. But in doing so, the Supreme Court also made a muddle of the on-going presidential ballot count, opened the way for even more challenges and arguably set the stage for a collision with the US Constitution. This isn't about our belief in which candidate would make the better president. We recommended Al Gore and Joe Lieberman and continue to believe they would perform ably. But the candidate who prevails in Florida, and thus gains the White House, must have won it fairly and must be seen as having done so in a fair way by both sides. That's missing here. The court sought to untangle the confusion by holding that the citizen's right to be heard through the ballot prevailed over a "hyper-technical" reading of the law. That ruling makes sense only if it is applied equally to every Florida voter in each of the state's 67 counties. Instead, the seven justices gave special treatment to Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties where Democrats, hoping to benefit Mr. Gore, sought to have the ballots counted by hand. - MIAMI HERALD
JAN CRAWFORD GREENBURG & DAN MIHALOPOULOS, CHICAGO TRIBUNE: A landmark Illinois Supreme Court ruling hailed by Vice President Al Gore's lawyers may not be the legal home run they believe will aid his quest to win Florida's 25 electoral votes and the White House, an analysis of the ruling shows . . . The lawyers suggested that the mention of the Illinois case was a sweeping directive to count controversial "dimpled" ballots, in which ballots were indented but not punched through . . . But that Illinois case should not give Democrats any confidence that dented ballots will be counted in Gore's favor. That's because the Illinois court actually affirmed a trial judge's order to exclude dented ballots, since he had decided he could not reasonably determine the voters' will by examining the ballots. In fact, in the Illinois case, the dented ballots were not counted at all. - CHICAGO TRIBUNE
WASHINGTON POST: Vice President Gore's effort to convince Florida election officials to count indented or "dimpled" ballots as votes for him runs contrary to the practice in almost all jurisdictions that use the punch card system, with the notable exception of Texas, the home state of George W. Bush, his rival for the presidency. In the 38-year history of punch card voting, only a small number of communities have counted these ballots as valid, voting experts said. R. Doug Lewis, executive director of the Election Center, a nonpartisan group that trains and certifies election supervisors, said that to his knowledge, with the exception of Texas, "no election official has counted a dimpled chad as a vote. - WASHINGTON POST
GUNZBURGER THE MAGNIFICENT
JUDGE LEE: Number three.
COMMISSIONER GUNZBURGER: I see a clear vote for Gore. It's like a garage door.
MR. CARROLL (Republican Attorney): I ask you not to bend the ballot, please.
GOVERNOR: Don't bend the ballot.
MR. POZZOVLI (Republican Attorney): You may not bend the ballot.
JUDGE LEE: I agree that's a vote for Gore.
JUDGE ROSENBERG: Cannot be ascertained with reasonable certainty.
COMMISSIONER GUNZBURGER: I disagree on this one because it's pushed more than a slight and there is light visible in the bottom. I've read some of the opinions that says when there is light visible that it is a punch for a candidate.
JUDGE LEE: I don't see it.
JUDGE ROSENBERG: I don't see any light visible.
MR. LICHTMAN (Democratic Attorney): Hold it up. I can see it from here.
COMMISSIONER GUNZBURGER: Turn it around.
JUDGE LEE: You're right. You can see it. All right. I agree with the Commissioner, 5A 11 is a vote for Gore.
JUDGE LEE: 29C 3.
JUDGE ROSENBERG: No clear intent.
COMMISSIONER GUNZBURGER: No. Wait. Let me look. The other votes are Democratic and I'm looking, there is a dent on the No. 3, and I would say it's a Gore.
JUDGE LEE: I agree with Judge Rosenberg. It remains an under vote.
JUDGE LEE: 10A 1, no reasonable certainty.
COMMISSIONER GUNZBURGER: I haven't looked.
JUDGE LEE: I'm just stating my opinion, I'm sorry.
COMMISSIONER GUNZBURGER: The other races are Democratic. There is an indentation on that and I would vote for Gore.
JUDGE LEE: Precinct 5D. 5D only has one, and I believe it is 5D 1.
JUDGE ROSENBERG: No intent.
COMMISSIONER GUNZBURGER: On this one, I believe there is a discernible intent based on the following reasons: On 21, there was a Democratic vote; on 41, there was another attempt to vote for congress on 41, and it didn't get through, so that I believe this is a vote for Gore.
JUDGE LEE: I agree with the Commissioner, 5D 1 is a vote for Gore.
JUDGE LEE: Moving to Precinct 5H. One disputed ballot. It's ballot number 10. I don't what that's - - That's an overvote, clearly. That's an overvote.
JUDGE ROSENBERG: Punched two numbers, three and eleven, in the presidential race.
COMMISSIONER GUNZBURGER: Gore.
JUDGE LEE: 17D, there is only one ballot disputed. It's 17D 2.
JUDGE ROSENBERG: No intent.
COMMISSIONER GUNZBURGER: They voted only in three races for congress and for Nelson, and I believe there is an intent to also vote, because in the bottom of that is a punch for Gore.
JUDGE ROSENBERG: Gore?
JUDGE LEE: It's really a punch for Bush.
JUDGE ROSENBERG: If it's for anybody, it's Bush.
COMMISSIONER GUNZBURGER: You're right.
MORE TRANSCRIPTS: DRUDGE REPORT
[From a Wall Street Journal poll of Florida voters one week after the election]
Percent who would accept the results from the machine recount and the overseas absentee ballots: 68%. Opposed: 30%
Percent who favored a hand recount in each of the four counties now disputed by the Democrats: 48%. Opposed: 48%
Percent who favored a hand recount in all Florida counties: 42%. Opposed: 57%
Percent favoring a new election in Palm Beach County: 28%. Opposed: 70%
Percent favoring a new election in entire state: 35%. Opposed: 65%
We have seen weird times in this country before, but the year 2000 is beginning to look super weird. This time, there really is nobody flying the plane . . . There is an eerie sense of panic in the air, a silent fear and uncertainty that comes with once-reliable faiths and truths and solid institutions that are no longer safe to believe in . . . There is a presidential election right on schedule, but somehow there is no president . . . If this were the world of sports, it would be like playing a Super Bowl that goes into 19 scoreless overtimes and never actually ends - Hunter S. Thompson, ESPN
COUNTING THE VOTE
NY POST: For the first time, Lieberman crossed the line from being merely disappointing to being openly and utterly dishonest. He gave the most prominent public voice to the Democratic line that had been developing since Wednesday - the line about how the demonstration by Republican observers in Miami-Dade county was so threatening to the members of the canvassing board there that they were intimidated into abandoning the manual recount. It's a complete and total lie.
Here's why. The evidence adduced to prove the charge comes entirely from the mouth of David Leahy, the county's supervisor of elections. In his statement yesterday, Lieberman quoted Leahy: "These demonstrations were clearly designed to intimidate . . . Shortly afterwards, one of the commissioners said, 'We would be up there counting' if it weren't for those objections." That's a complete misrepresentation of Leahy's words. What he actually said, in full, was this: "If what I had envisioned worked out and there were no objections, we'd be up there now counting." The objections Leahy was referring to were legal objections to the proposal Leahy had made - that, instead of doing a full manual recount, Miami-Dade deal only with the 10,000-plus ballots that had registered no vote when they went through the counting machines in order to meet the new five-day deadline set by the Florida Supreme Court
BEHIND THE BALLOT BOX : A Citizen's Guide to Voting Systems by Douglas J. Amy Paperback. An excellent guide to alternative voting systems, including the suddenly popular preferential voting (AKA instant runoffs).
WATCHING THE COUNT
AUDREY HUDSON, THE WASHINGTON TIMES: Eliminating paper ballots in favor of machines was one way to eliminate voter fraud. Party officials would trade half-pints of whiskey or $10 to $20 in cash for ballots and votes. So blatant was the practice that after Kentucky Gov. John Y. Brown lost a Democratic primary bid to Wallace G. Wilkinson in 1987, a county coordinator in Mr. Brown's campaign called the Louisville Courier-Journal to complain - on the record - that Mr. Wilkinson's campaign had unfairly raised the price of a vote from $20 to $25 on Election Day . . . "Cheating in the past involved voting the dead, voting early and voting twice, but you generally could not vote after Election Day -not even the dead," said one political strategist, speaking on the condition of anonymity of his name, party affiliation and Southern home state. "We've reached the 21st century and we are still cheating in ways they didn't even dream of in the 18th century." - WASHINGTON TIMES
DEXTER FILKINS & DANA CANEDY, NY TIMES: The Miami- Dade County Canvassing Board's decision to shut down its hand recount of presidential election ballots followed a rapid campaign of public pressure that at least one of the board's three members says helped persuade him to vote to stop the counting. Republican telephone banks had urged Republican voters in Miami to go to the Stephen P. Clark Government Center downtown to protest the recount, which began there on Monday and which Democrats hoped would help swing Florida's 25 electoral votes to Vice President Al Gore. The city's most influential Spanish-language radio station, Radio Mambi, called on staunchly Republican Cuban-Americans to head downtown to demonstrate. Republican volunteers shouted into megaphones urging protest. A lawyer for the Republican Party helped stir ethnic passions by contending that the recount was biased against Hispanic voters. The subsequent demonstrations turned violent on Wednesday after the canvassers had decided to close the recount to the public. Joe Geller, chairman of the Miami-Dade Democratic Party, was escorted to safety by the police after a crowd chased him down and accused him of stealing a ballot. Upstairs in the Clark center, several people were trampled, punched or kicked when protesters tried to rush the doors outside the office of the Miami-Dade supervisor of elections. Sheriff's deputies restored order. When the ruckus was over, the protesters had what they had wanted: a unanimous vote by the board to call off the hand counting. - NY TIMES
I celebrated Thanksgiving in an old-fashioned way. I invited everyone in my neighborhood to my house, we had an enormous feast, and then I killed them and took their land.---Jon Stewart
WATCHING THE COUNT
MICHAEL KELLY: By God, I love lawyers--and campaign hacks and political thugs. I feel great about the fact that the Gore campaign has turned the choice of the next president into just another chapter of the eight-year saga of the Clinton-Gore endless war room, another to-the-death fight between the usual armies of litigators and propagandists. On Fox News the other day, after the Gorees won a round, a particularly oily little talking jurisdoctorate-head informed me that this was "a great day for democracy." Thanks, oily one! Like all of my fellow citizens who did not attend law school, I am incapable of deciding for myself what is a great and what is a not-so-great day for democracy . . . This is why the Clinton-Gore selling of the white House was such a bad thing: The greedheads-in-chief didn't trash one white House; because they got away with it, they guaranteed the trashing of future white Houses. So too with the vote-rigging in Florida. There have been close presidential elections before, and there have been elections in which the loser was certain he had been robbed. But never before has any presidential candidate done what Gore has done; never before has the loser taken to the courts rather than accept the verdict rendered--at this point, twice over. - WASHINGTON POST
WILLIAM BRODY, PRESIDENT, JOHN HOPKINS: The issue at hand would appear to be the accuracy of the vote tally and whether or not a recount is warranted. It seems a simple matter. But before we rush to conclude that a recount will resolve any closely contested election, consider this simple fact: A plurality of 300 votes out of nearly 6 million votes cast constitutes a margin of only 1 in 20,000. If we wish to recount the votes to determine whether the number 300 is indeed correct, we must be accurate in the recount process to much better than 0.005 percent. Put another way, if you or I were asked to recount votes in one of the Florida precincts and were given a stack of 20,000 votes to count, we would have to perform the recount with zero errors! Just one error in the 20,000 ballots would be equivalent to the 300-vote margin that Gov. George W. Bush finished with in the recount. I don't know about others, but I can assure you that there is no way I could count 5,000 ballots, let alone 20,000, and maintain 100 percent accuracy. Simply distract me for one second while I'm counting and I could easily make a mistake. - WASHINGTON POST
REUTERS: World leaders were watching the drawn out saga. In Moscow, Russian President Vladimir Putin told a news conference with British Prime Minister Tony Blair they had discussed "this very important issue" over a beer.
JON E. DOUGHERTY, WORLD NET DAILY: A Republican lawmaker says he has confirmed a report with a Defense Department official that "thousands" of military absentee ballots sent from US Navy personnel overseas did not arrive in the US until last Wednesday -- perhaps too late to be sent on to local canvassing boards to be included in vote tallies. According to a statement released by Rep. Spencer Bachus, R-Ala., "thousands of absentee ballots from US sailors on duty in the Persian Gulf did not arrive in the United States" until Nov. 15, when they arrived in New York City before being transferred from the military postal services to the US Postal Service for final delivery . . . "Under Florida law, absentee ballots not received by midnight last Friday (Nov. 17) cannot be counted," he said. "The Department of Defense ... had an obligation to make absolutely certain those ballots were delivered on time to be counted," but, he added, "that did not happen." - WORLD NET DAILY
WASHINGTON POST: Escambia [County] received 272 overseas ballots, almost all from the military. It voided 112, about a quarter of which both sides agreed were plainly illegal. Thirty-five more ballots were rejected because the voter (or somebody claiming to be the voter) had already voted . . . In conducting the count, the Democrats relied on out-of-town lawyers led by Boston's John Gannon, and had trouble recruiting locals. "Nobody wanted to do it," said Leo Thomas, a local criminal lawyer who joined the out-of-town Democratic squadron Friday but didn't say anything and left early. A military man himself, he called the party's effort to block overseas military ballots without postmarks "unfortunate" . . . The Gore side unsuccessfully tried to disqualify all ballots with stamps on them, and tried killing one because "the full name of the witness could not be discerned from the signature." In most cases, Republicans argued that more lenient federal law trumped the stricter state statutes. "It got so ridiculous," said county Republican Chairman Thomas Gilliam in his law office downtown. "They were objecting to ballots from the Philippines as being not from overseas. They said the Philippines was a territory of the United States. We pointed out that it's a sovereign nation." - WASHINGTON POST
MAUREEN DOWD, NY TIMES: We will have a president. But we will never have a winner. It's time to admit that there can never be any objective reality. Only holograms wrapped in enigmas. We went into our outmoded voting booths and emerged in "The Matrix." With only a few hundred votes separating our antagonists, and tens of thousands of Florida ballots muddled and mussed, disqualified and lost and fiddled with; with truth and spin irrevocably bleeding into each other in the dizzy, mind-bending 24-hour news maw; with charges of partisan favor, fraud, theft, hypocrisy and chad-eating flying; with tactical perorations over patriotism and dimples; with county-by-county punching over overpunching and underpunching; with a confusing cat's cradle of legal opinions - Americans will never really buy the resolution of the 2000 election. One of these guys will spirit away the presidency, fair and square. But win it? Nah. - NY TIMES
[The last presidential aspirant known to have furthered his ambitions by manipulating the count was Lyndon Johnson]
A TREASURY OF TEXAS TRIVIA: The year is 1948, and Texan Lyndon B. Johnson is locked in political combat with popular Coke Stevenson for a US Senate seat. Stevenson had apparently won the bitterly fought race until an amended tally from precinct 13 in Jim Wells County gave Johnson enough additional votes to win the election by a margin of 87 votes out of a million votes cast. This squeaker gave Johnson a nickname that would stay with him until he died- "Landslide Lyndon." Johnson was accused of stealing the election with the help of political boss George Parr, known as "The Duke of Duval," who allegedly had the ballot box stuffed in Johnson's favor. This was a giant step in the direction of the white House.
[It turned out that LBJ had some countervailing virtues of a sort that have yet to reveal themselves in Landslide Al]
THE REAL SOLUTION
SEVERAL OF THE BEST SOLUTIONS to the current constitutional crisis have fallen by the wayside because they are themselves unconstitutional. For example there was David Letterman's brilliant idea of letting George Bush be president of the red states while Gore took over the blue states. Then there was our own suggestion that all graduates of that boot camp for Episcopalian establishment epigons, St. Alban's, be henceforth barred from holding public office.
This may, however, be the proper time to revive our other proposal, which is designed to enforce the very Constitution so often ignored these days. We suggest a class action suit, filed by roughly 274 million Americans, against any lawyer becoming a member of Congress, a vice president, or president -- based on the principal of separation of powers. As Thomas Jefferson wrote in 1812, "The three great departments having distinct functions to perform, must have distinct rules adapted to them. Each must act under its own rules, those of no one having any obligation on either of the others." As things now stand, every lawyer is an officer of the judicial branch and, if elected, thus holds power in two of the three branches. Given the present behavior of the bar in Florida, there is little doubt of the virtue of our cause. The problem, however, will be to find a lawyer willing to take the case for the rest of us.
Everything has been said but not everyone has said it yet -- Rep. Morris Udall, 1988 Democratic convention
Third Recount Edition
For over one hundred years, machine counts have been found to be more reliable and honest than hand counts. They still are.
Hand recounts are useful in cases when machines break down or similar major problems develop. Their accuracy, however, depends in no small part upon the honesty of the political system doing the recounting. Hence hand counts in Minnesota or Nebraska should be considered considerably more reliable than hand counts in Chicago or Florida.
Only losers in a particular jurisdiction should be allowed a recount. In none of the Florida counties being recounted is this the case, nor have any of the recounts so far proved otherwise.
Whatever design flaws exist in Florida ballots, the worst time to correct them is when you're counting them.
TO OPPOSE HAND COUNTS
In the only election he ever entered, your editor almost lost thanks to a manual tally. It was 1974, and I was running for advisory neighborhood commissioner. My opponent was an elderly gentleman who did virtually no campaigning. I not only went door to door but stood outside the precinct all day greeting my friends and neighbors as they came to vote. That evening I went down to the Shoreham Hotel to watch the count and, to my chagrin, found that I had lost the morning count, 86%-12%. I figured I not only had to get out of politics but leave the neighborhood as well. But first I hurried over to where the afternoon ballots were being counted and watched them one by one. Those I won 79% to 21%. With consummate gall, I went up to the director of the Board of Elections, Norval Perkins, and said, "I'm going to have to have a recount" and told him about the results. Norval replied, "Well, Sam, it looks like to me you've just got more afternoon friends than morning ones." But the votes were counted again and it was discovered that all my morning votes had been given to my opponent and vice versa. The next morning, I opened the Washington Post only to find the vote tally changed again. I later discovered that the elections board had added the incorrect morning vote to the correct one and then added the afternoon tally. That's when I learned to watch the count and distrust paper ballots.
[An excerpt from The Politicos 1865-1896, by Matthew Josephson, Harcourt, Brace 1938]
ON March 4, 1877, Rutherford B. Hayes was sworn in and installed as the nineteenth President of the United States. To accomplish this result had been no easy task for the Republican Organization. As to the electoral battle itself, we must award the palm to the Republicans for sheer cheek and coolness under fire. During the three months' interregnum that followed the election, the Constitution, the government apparatus, public opinion, and business confidence had labored under acute strain, while none knew certainly who was to be the new Chief Magistrate . . .
Early on the night of November 7, 1876, it was known that the party of the Outs had carried by a clear margin four important Northern States: New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Indiana . . . On the morning of the eighth (as for several days thereafter) nearly all the press conceded the election of Mr. Tilden; though the Republican New York Times, in a late city edition of November 8, contended that "the result . . . is still in doubt." Thus far its tabulation of electoral votes showed 184 for Tilden and 181 for Hayes, this counting South Carolina and Louisiana as Republican. But Florida had not been heard from. "If the Republicans have carried that state as they claim, they will have 185 votes-a majority of one" . . .
What followed tells us much of the force of the Republican Party organization as a militant institution, resembling certain church orders at this moment rather than a political party . . . At once telegrams shot forth to lieutenants in the field, to Carpetbag bosses in the disputed States:
"Hayes is elected if we have carried South Carolina, Florida, and Louisiana. Can you hold your state? Answer immediately!"
The warnings to "beware of fraud" and to "hold" their states meant only too clearly that they must withhold returns. To the party's agents in Florida went the further message:
"The election of Hayes depends on Florida. W. E. Chandler has gone to Florida to see you with full powers to act and make terms. You can put a man in the Cabinet or elsewhere if you choose to demand it. Do so and get a friend where he can help you. Don't be modest. Agree to carry the State through the three counts and you have your own terms in your hands" . . .
The party's inner circle, meanwhile, moved swiftly in accordance with a concerted plan. A credit was opened in a Philadelphia bank. Following William Chandler, Department of Justice detectives went to Tallahassee, Florida; then, by November 9, 1876, came Thomas Brady, the Second Assistant Postmaster General (and head of a newly formed plunder ring), with a force of special agents of the Post Office Department, bearing cash with which to "hold" Florida. Other trusted agents directed themselves toward Columbia, South Carolina.
All through November Bill Chandler sent repeated telegrams in cipher for money and help . . . On the fifteenth: "Florida needs eminent counsel and help. Can you send $3,000 and $2,000, making $5,000? Danger great here" . . .
Real electoral reform
as proposed by Ralph Nader
in the San Francisco Bay Guardian
- End legalized bribery and support publicly financed campaigns.
- Take back the airwaves and provide free time for ballot-qualified candidates.
- Include everyone in elections by adopting same-day voter registration.
- Give voters the information they want by opening the presidential debates. - Open up the two-party system by adopting proportional representation.
- Gauge public opinion at the polls by initiating a national non-binding advisory referendum.
- Make every vote count by allowing instant runoff voting.
- When there is no one worth your vote, you should have a binding none-of-the-above option.
IT COULD BE WORSE
REUTERS: Computer hackers have moved Romania's election battle into cyberspace, linking the former leftist President Ion Iliescu's official Web site to the FBI's list of most-wanted fugitives. When computer users try to reach the poll favorite's site they get the FBI list of fugitives instead.
These men [the signers of the Declaration of Independence], the fathers of American liberty, voted down here once. And they vote here yet. -- A Philadelphia politician quoted by Lincoln Steffens
There are basically three times during which one can steal an election. The first, and by far the most important, is before the election. This is how, for example, the two-party system is maintained, by wording voting laws, ballot access laws, and campaign finance laws in such a way that a few have infinitely more power than the rest of us. Not to mention those legal bribes known as campaign contributions. For example, in 1994, the residents of New York City's Upper East Side contributed more to congressional campaigns around the country than all the residents of 21 states. In 1990 one tenth of one percent of the voting age population account for 46 percent of all the money raised by congressional candidates. The effect of these legal bribes was far more corrupting than more traditional forms of election fraud.
The second occasion for stealing an election comes during the vote itself. This sort of fraud was the meat and potatoes of the likes of Chicago ward leaders like Hinky Dink Kenna and Bathhouse John Coughlin as well as the source of numerous political anecdotes such as the one in which a voter identified himself as William Croswell Doane, a prominent member of the Episcopal clergy. "Come off it," said an election official, "You're not Bishop Doane." Replied the incensed voter, "The hell I ain't, you bastard."
Where fraud didn't work, then voter or candidate intimidation did, one of the most dramatic examples being the Kansas City Bloody Tuesday of 1934 in which, on election day, there were four murders, 11 critical injuries, and over 200 cases of assault as the Pendergast machine returned to power. In the present instance, it is likely that both Republicans and Democrats stole votes, prevented other voters from voting, and used a large variety of stratagems to turn the results their way. These tricks tend to be so dispersed in application and difficult to aggregate that they rarely lead to a significant electoral review. Thus tales -- such as the highway patrol setting up a roadblock on the route to a black polling place or ballots being left on chairs for voters to take as many as they wanted -- tend to get lost in the shuffle (or reshuffle, as the case may be).
The third occasion for stealing elections is after the voting. As Alexander Callow wrote in "The City Boss in America," "Fraud during election hours was one thing, but it did not end with the closing of the polls. When election officials counted the votes, the laws of mathematics were subject to political necessity." False counts were so prevalent in Boss Tweed's operation that the religious members of the machine forsook the Bible and took their oath on a copy of "New Method for Learning to Read, Write and Speak French."
For over a hundred years -- and until a few days ago, in fact -- it has been generally recognized that one way to mitigate such problems was to replace the hand count with voting machines. As Callow writes, "The secret ballot, the voting machine and permanent registration have not eliminated fraud, but they had tamed the wild and sly ways of the old-fashioned city boss." Some of the old timers missed them. Said one "If was wonderful to see how my men slugged the opposition to preserve the sanctity of the ballot and stop the corruption of Tammany Hall."
Suddenly, political history is being rewritten by the likes of National Public Radio which regards the potential for recount misfeasance as something that "Republicans charge" rather than being a well-document phenomenon. Once again facts are jettisoned, replaced by self-serving speculations of motivation. Forgotten is the fact, for example, that the Chicago pols working for Bill Daley's father liked nothing more than a long delay in the vote recount, since it provided additional time to adjust the number and the nature of the ballots. Does anyone really believe that a wide-awake Republican and Democratic official has kept an eye on every Palm Beach ballot 24 hours a day since the election?
Florida -- with its long history of corruption, mob activity, and drug commerce -- is one of the last places one should place faith in a long discredited system of vote counting. To use such a count to validate the machine results is -- absent a true breakdown in the machines -- is like attempting to repair a botched surgical operation with a dose of patent medicine.
WATCHING THE COUNT
LA TIMES: To scrounge for every last vote, Gore has flooded Fort Lauderdale with tough, seasoned Democrats, the sort who are used to keeping wafflers in line and to count and recount votes until they know exactly what it will take to outdo their opponents. Many of the hired hands speak with a Boston brogue... Not far away, in an abandoned Payless shoe store, vanloads of AFL-CIO staffers and Gore loyalists from New York, Chicago, Nashville, Philadelphia, San Francisco and elsewhere had disembarked to learn how to observe the ballot count. "Our goal," said one lawyer as he patiently lectured his new charges, "is to preserve the Al Gore vote." The volunteers nodded. "It's very, very important that if you see any kind of mark--a scratch, a dent, a pinprick in Al Gore's column--that you challenge." When someone then asked what they should do if they found a Bush ballot with an indent, the lawyer said: "Keep your lips sealed." It was hardball that the Bostonians and other imported pros understood well." LA TIMES
ELECTION LAW OF LITHUANIA: Each group of ballot papers must be recounted at least two times. For the second time ballot papers must be calculated by other members of the committee
WORLD NET DAILY: Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris pleaded with the TV networks a week before the election to "delay" calling the state for either presidential candidate until 8 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on election day, a news release shows. The networks ignored her request and called the state for Al Gore beginning at 7:49 p.m. EST -- 49 minutes after polls closed in the greater Florida peninsula, but 11 minutes before they closed in the state's western panhandle, which is in a different time zone. "The last thing we need is to have our citizens in the Central time zone think their vote doesn't count," Harris said in an Oct. 30 press release to the networks. WORLD NET DAILY
APB NEWS: Two men apparently seeking to cash in on the election controversy in Palm Beach County have been arrested for allegedly trying to sell a stolen voting machine on the Internet. Mark B. Richter, 41, and Steven R. Solomon, 43, both of Lake Worth, were charged Thursday with unlawful possession of a voting machine and dealing in stolen property, said Special Agent Supervisor Michael D. Washam of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement . . . Police were tipped off by an elections official who saw an advertisement on the popular auction site eBay.com. "They were advertising the sale of a voting machine complete with the butterfly ballot for $2,000," Washam said. APB NEWS
JOHN KASS, CHICAGO TRIBUNE: Now about those Florida butterfly ballots--the ones Bill Daley is complaining about as "confusing," saying the format caused 19,000 votes to be invalidated in Palm Beach County because voters punched more than one candidate for president. The same butterfly ballot style is used here. It's even more cramped. But Chicago voters don't suffer. On Tuesday, they were extremely proficient, particularly in the African-American wards. In the 34th Ward, 22,792 voted for Gore, 360 for Bush and 21 for Buchanan. In the 6th Ward, 23,350 voted for Gore, 416 for Bush and 19 for Buchanan. In the 8th Ward, 24,927 voted for Gore, 429 for Bush and 29 for Buchanan. And so on. The people of Florida whine and complain they're confused, but no one is confused in Chicago.
Richard J. would be proud of his sons.JOHN KASS
PHILIP DELVES BROUGHTON, LONDON TELEGRAPH: FIVE tons of alligator carcasses spilled out of a lorry on to a motorway in Florida this week. In addition, a wheelchair-bound grandmother was arrested for running a family pickpocket operation which netted £35,000 a day, and Miami's former police chief was indicted for pillaging the police pension fund to buy expensive underwear for his girlfriend. Then there was the heavily scarred man found in bed last year with his pet alligator.
ROBIN GIVHAN, WASHINGTON POST: One of the reasons [Katherine] Harris is so easy to mock is because she, to be honest, seems to have applied her makeup with a trowel. At this moment that so desperately needs diplomacy, understatement and calm, one wonde3rs how this Republican woman, who can't even use restraint when she's wielding a mascara wand, will manage to use it and make sound decisions in this game of partisan one-upmanship.
The success of any great moral enterprise does not depend upon numbers. - William Lloyd Garrison
Having survived our first postmodern presidency and our first postmodern impeachment proceedings, we now find ourselves in the midst of our first postmodern election recount.
It is the nature of postmodernism that nothing is at it appears -- including the word "is." In 'Postmodernism and the Social Sciences' Pauline Marie Rosenau writes: "Post-modernists recognize an infinite number of interpretations (meanings) of any text are possible because, for the skeptical post-modernists, one can never say what one intends with language, [thus] ultimately all textual meaning, all interpretation is undecipherable . . . Many diverse meanings are possible for any symbol, gesture, word . . . Language has no direct relationship to the real world; it is, rather, only symbolic."
The problem with such an approach comes when, for example, you want a final vote count. It is all very well to say that the Palm Beach County butterfly ballot is merely a social construct designed by middle-age white Eurocentric men to disenfranchise elderly Jewish voters, but we don't have time for that right now. We need a president-elect. And so what happens? To replace shared meaning in an actual real-life situation, the postmodernist simply substitutes brute force. This was the story of the Clinton years and this is why there are so many lawyers in Florida even as we speak.
Let us, for comparison sake, return to a simpler time when there was shared meaning as to what a vote count was, how you did it, and what you could get away with. Imagine David Boies approaching a Palm Beach County voting commissioner:
BOIES: Good morning, my name is David Boies. You may have read about what I did to Microsoft. I have now been asked to look into your operations.
COMMISH: Good morning. Would you like some coffee?
BOIES: We would like a hand recount.
COMMISH: I take it then that you are with the loser in the county, Mr. Bush.
Well, I'm afraid a hand recount would not be possible; after all your candidate lost by 209,000 votes. That's 27% of all votes cast. And besides we've already done a machine recount and it varied from the original by only two tenths of one percent. You gotta come a little closer than that, my friend.
BOIES: On the contrary, I represent the Vice President.
COMMISH: [Spills her coffee and gags] The Vice President? You mean the guy who already has 117,000 more votes than he needs? This is too much. Do you mind if I call my assistant and tell him? We don't get many laughs around here.
BOIES: This is no laughing matter. We feel that the voters of Palm Beach County were deprived of their full expression of support for Vice President Gore.
COMMISH: Let me try to explain to you, Mr. Boies. Vote counts aren't like billable hours; you don't just pad them whenever you feel like it. In most places in this country I'd be saying good-bye to you right now because winners simply don't get recounts and in many jurisdictions even losers have to come within, like, one percent. Our law's a little sloppy but you still have to have some justification. Did somebody steal some of your votes, perhaps?
BOIES: No, but the butterfly ballots were terribly confusing to many elderly voters -- and obviously to anyone stupid to vote for Buchanan -- and we would like to reconstruct them according to a contextual analysis of their intent.
COMMISH: And how do you intend to establish that?
BOIES: That's why we've got so many lawyers down here.
COMMISH: Look, we count ballots here, Mr. Boies, we don't run focus groups. Besides, I read where teachers in New Jersey and Louisiana gave these ballots to 4th and 5th graders and they didn't have the slightest trouble with them.
BOIES: As you well know, 4th and 5th graders are not permitted to cast actual ballots. We are dealing with issues of freedom of speech, freedom of religion, the statutory requirement that the voter's true intent be determined and . . .
COMMISH: Hold, on a second. These butterfly ballots were printed in the newspaper, they were designed by a Democrat, and were available to any lawyer who wanted to look at them. Why didn't you complain before the election?
BOIES: I was not representing my client at that time.
COMMISH: Well, then let me ask you another thing. How come these ballots were okay when Democrats were running the state but not now? Did a whole bunch of elderly Jewish voters get the Nile virus in their eyes when Jeb Bush took over or what?
BOIES: The issue of when a wrong is righted is immaterial as long as it is righted. Would you support slavery simply because of its lengthy provenance?
COMMISH: You big time lawyers sure have a hard time staying on the subject. Look, we're not talking slavery, glaucoma, freedom of speech or anything but whether this count was done right. All you've done is told me is that if you had my job, you'd do another way. But you are not, to borrow a phrase, a controlling legal authority in the state of Florida. If you got evidence that somebody stole or messed with the ballots or harassed the voters, you let me know and I'll do something -- even though you did win by 117,00 votes and really should have a little more class than to come around here whining that it wasn't more.
BOIES: I see that we will have to pursue our legal remedies. . .
COMMISH: Do what you have to do, but just tell one thing.
BOIES: What's that?
COMMISH: How come it was Democrats who were too dumb to mark the ballot right? I always thought we were the smart ones.
BOIES: Well, we certainly have the better lawyers. Good day, Commissioner. [Reaches for cell phone and punches the dial] Hello, Warren, this is Dave. Wipe that smile off your face. We've got work to do.
WELL, IF YOU EAT OUT
EVERY NIGHT, IT BEGINS
TO LOOK THAT WAY
WASHINGTON TIMES: Vice President Al Gore's running mate said yesterday the pair will not concede even if Texas Gov. George W. Bush leads after overseas ballots are counted in Florida and will continue to fight in court because that is "the American way."
IT COULD BE WORSE
THOMAS FULLER, INTERNATIONAL HERALD TRIBUNE: In April 1999, a group of top Philippine officials took the unusual step of requesting a meeting with one of President Joseph Estrada's mistresses . . . They were concerned with his high-stakes gambling, late-night drinking sessions and the construction of lavish mansions for other mistresses . . . As events of recent weeks here have shown, the message delivered that night was prescient. On Monday, Mr. Estrada became the first president in Philippine history to be impeached and now faces a trial in the Senate . . . It is the story of Mr. Estrada's disdain for the day-to-day tasks of running a government: his refusal to hold regular cabinet meetings and his unwillingness to read government reports, newspapers or magazines. [According to a former aide] government business was often discussed in the dining room of the executive mansion, where such dishes as roast pig, lobster and giant shrimp were placed in the middle of three round tables . . The president, Mrs. David and others said, is prone to binges of Roman proportions, followed by a dose of Xenical weight-loss pills to purge the food. In the evenings, discussions would often continue over drinks. After being advised to stop drinking hard liquor last year, Mr. Estrada switched to vintage bottles of Chateau Petrus . . . Depending on how many guests were there, Mr. Singson estimates that the president, with help from friends, would go through 6 to 10 bottles during an evening, each bottle costing around $1,000 . . .
MOST INTERESTING STORY
IGNORED BY MOST OF THE MEDIA
CHRIS VLASTO & DAVID RUPPE, ABC NEWS: Several days after presidential votes were tallied in what has become the hotbed of Florida's post-election confusion, police in Palm Beach County confiscated a ballot-box mechanism from the car of a well-known local Democrat. The mechanism, called a "Votomatic," did not contain any ballots. It's a device used on some types of ballot boxes to punch votes through ballot cards, which are then tallied by computers. According to a police report filed at the Palm Beach County sheriff's office and obtained by ABC News, Irving Slosberg, 53, pulled the mechanism from his car and handed it over to police on Nov. 11 after denying to a county government employee that he had it . . . Slosberg won his new seat during a heated and extremely close election. Just days before a Democratic runoff, which he won, his opponent, incumbent Curt Levine, filed a state ethics complaint, accusing Slosberg of trying to buy the election by giving away thousands of handbags and paying retirees phony consulting fees.
DAVID WESSEL & JAMES R. HAGERTY, WALL STREET JOURNAL: Enthusiasm in the US for [preferential voting] is limited to a small band of zealots, third-party candidates and, occasionally, a writer of newspaper editorials. But with the US presidential election a virtual tie, and the outcome still in doubt a week after Election Day, alternatives are bound to get a harder look. "With all this talk, you can't avoid talk about reforming or eliminating the Electoral College, and that gives us a huge opening to make it even fairer," says Eric Olson, deputy director of Center for Voting and Democracy, an eight-year-old Takoma Park, Maryland, group that campaigns for the Irish approach -- known as "instant-runoff voting," "preferential voting" or "single transferable vote." Variants of the Irish approach have been used in parliamentary elections in Australia since 1918 and in Malta since 1921, and in municipal elections in Cambridge, Massachusetts, since 1940 (voters there have since rejected five attempts at repeal). London used it to pick its new mayor. The approach is particularly relevant to the very close US presidential race, in which George W. Bush and Al Gore each apparently drew 48% of the popular vote, and others shared 4%. See an explanation of the proportional-representation voting used in Cambridge, Mass., on the city's Web site.
Here is how instant-runoff voting works: In a race with more than two candidates, voters mark not only their first choice, but their second, third, fourth choice, and so on. If no candidate gets a majority, the losing candidates' votes are reallocated until one candidate has a majority . . . Instant-runoff voting has its roots in schemes developed in the 1850s, but in its modern form was invented by W. R. Ware, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor, around 1870, and was first used in Australia. Progressive movement reforms in the US in the early 20th century persuaded about two dozen US cities to adopt it. The high-water mark came in 1936 when New York City voters embraced the approach in a referendum, but it was abandoned in the 1940s amid fears that it was helping Communists win legislative seats. By 1962, only Cambridge, Massachusetts, was still using it . . .
Ann Arbor, Michigan, adopted instant-runoff voting in 1975; soon after, second-choice votes from supporters of the Human Rights Party soon helped elect a Democrat mayor. The Republicans were infuriated, and the system quickly dropped. "It was way too complicated to implement. Nobody was sure at the end whether the one who got the most votes was the one who won. It was not a success," says Yvonne Clark, interim city clerk.
CENTER FOR VOTING & DEMOCRACY
It's really getting embarrassing. In fact, today a boatload of Florida residents in search of democracy washed up in Cuba. - Jay Leno
The candidates have worked out a compromise and, thank God, not a minute too soon. Here's how it goes: George W. bush will be president for the red states and Al W. Gore will be president for the blue states - David Letterman
The last time George W. Bush was in a recount like this I guess was back in '73 when he said to a guy, "Hey that doesn't look like ten grams of coke to me." - Jay Leno
Thanks to naïve and ahistorical journalism, much nonsense is currently abroad on the subject of hand recounts. It is well to keep in mind that the reason machine voting has been used for over a hundred years is because hand counting paper ballots was not only slow and cumbersome, but fraught with fraud. This basic fact has been strangely absent from Florida reportage; hence the public is being given an impression that simply isn't true.
As the Grolier Encyclopedia puts it, "The voting machine, a mechanical Australian ballot, grew out of the need to correct the abuses which developed with the paper ballot (in spite of its uniform and official character and of its being marked in secrecy at the official polling place), and the need to provide a prompt and accurate count. Its use eliminates, as much as possible, fraud, error, and carelessness on the part of both the voter and the election officials, and, at the same time, greatly facilitates the totaling of election results."
The machines, first used in 1892, were not immune from fraud, but only a substantial improvement. If the county or state is corrupt enough, no system works all that well. As Earl Long said when his Louisiana made the switch to voting machines: "If I have the right commissioners, I can make them machines play 'Home Sweet Home.'
The machines were introduced between Long's two terms by Governor Robert Floyd Kennon, a biography of whom suggests where voting machines stand in the pantheon of political reform: "During his term in office, Kennon is credited with ending an era of open, illegal gambling in the state and replacing the paper ballot with voting machines. He reinstated Civil Service, appointed blue ribbon boards to watch over state departments, reformed prisons and mental institutions."
To this day, one of the selling points of voting machines is their ability to control fraud, witness this promotional material for the AVC Advantage and AVC edge:
"The AVC Advantage and the AVC Edge are the only systems in production that provides 100% accuracy, verifiable by means of an unalterable electronic audit trail . . . The voter is prevented, through software lockouts, from voting for more than the legal number of candidates, offices, questions and amendments . . . The voter is prevented from voting for the wrong party in a primary election . . . . . . Voter's intentions are not subject to interpretation by equipment or outside parties . . . The AVC's returns are Fraud Proof . . . Eliminates possibility of votes being voided by persons marking or otherwise altering paper ballots . . . Complete enclosure of voter assures privacy during voter's selection of choices and registering to vote . . . No exposure of voter's selection outside privacy booth while carrying ballot to ballot box or while it is rejected due to inappropriately marked ballots."
COMPUTERS AND VOTING
DOUGLAS W. JONES AT A UNIVERSITY OF IOWA SYMPOSIUM: The question is not "who can you trust to run a fair election," but rather, "how can you construct a trustworthy electoral system when none of the participants are trustworthy." A properly administered Australian paper ballot system demonstrates that this is possible. At no stage in the processing of ballots are they ever in the hands of one person who we must trust. Instead, we insist on the presence of opposing parties at each stage in ballot processing, and each step is undertaken in public if possible, or if not, in a setting where observers representing various factions are welcome.
The situation with computer-based voting systems is quite different. Proprietary software is the rule. In effect, the vendors say "trust us!" to every jurisdiction using their systems . . . In the case of purely electronic voting machines and internet voting, we have no independent record of the votes cast. To meet the challenge this poses, the Federal Election Commission has drafted a set of standards for electronic voting machines. These standards are non-binding, but over the past few years, many states (Iowa included) have enacted laws requiring conformance to these standards . . . Unfortunately, the current Federal Election Commission standards contain two large loopholes. First, they only cover voting machines. Vote counting software that runs in county or state office buildings is not covered and vote counting software that runs on a web-server is not covered.
The second major weakness is that "industry standard components" are exempt. This encourages vendors to use off-the-shelf software, and on the face of it, this seems reasonable. Unfortunately, many industry standard components are known to be unreliable and insecure. In addition, some industry standard software is made by companies that are either in an adversary relationship with the Federal government, or may have publicly stated partisan positions in an upcoming general election.
As an example of the vulnerability this creates, consider the following attack: In the next version of their window manager, a major vendor includes a little bit of code as part of the "open new window on screen" mechanism. If today is the first Tuesday in November of an even numbered year, this code checks the contents of the window. If the window contains the strings "Straight Party", "Democrat", "Republican", "Socialist", and "Reform", and if the window contains a "radio button" widget, allowing the selection of one out of n alternatives, the software would, one time out of ten, exchange the words "Republican" and "Reform."
What does this little bit of code do? On election day, and on no other day, it throws ten percent of the straight party Republican vote to a large third party that is known to attract many Republican-leaning voters. In closely contested Democratic-Republican contests, this could easily swing the outcome to favor the Democrats, and on a national scale, it could easily provide the winning margin for control of Congress or the White House.
Today, this is not a serious threat for two reasons. First, until a large fraction of voting machines on a national scale use window managers from the same supplier, such an attack would be insignificant, and second, until a large fraction of voting machines are vulnerable, there are overwhelming marketing reasons to keep all new-technology voting machines strictly honest.
This kind of attack does not require either massive conspiracy or corporate approval or cooperation. So long as a single programmer can covertly incorporate a few lines of simple code into a component that he or she knows will end up in a large fraction of all voting machines, and so long as that code is not subject to exhaustive inspection, the system is vulnerable. Someone intent on fixing an election does not need to buy the support of the company, they only need to buy the support of one programmer with access to a key component.
It is important to keep in mind that this window-manager attack is only an example. Computer based voting systems are vulnerable to attacks from many other software components, ranging from the file system to cryptographic packages and communication software. If the operating system is insecure, all of these have the potential to make arbitrary changes to information displayed on the screen or to data anywhere in the computer's memory . . .
I think we must change the law so that all components of the voting software are either open to public inspection or subject to inspection by an independent testing authority.
DOUGLAS JONES SPEECH
A few honest men are better than numbers. - Oliver Cromwell
WATCHING THE COUNT
* * * WHILE IT IS PROBABLE that both Democrats and Republicans stole votes in Florida before the count, it seems reasonably clear that most of the improper post-election machinations have been carried out by the Democratic Party. In fact, the whole premise of the Democratic effort has been fraudulent; an attempt to change the votes in a few key counties that are in the control of the party. An honest hand recount would have clearly included the whole state.
As we have pointed out, the whole notion of a party winning a county like Palm Beach by over 100,000 votes -- 24% of all its votes cast -- and then demanding a recount is absurd on its face. Only a bunch of Washington killer litigators could come up with something so cynically sophistic.
We have now spent a week counting votes and here's what your favorite national media won't tell you. The change in vote finally certified by the state for Palm Beach County represented two-tenths of one percent. To get a sense of this, ask two friends to count nearly two reams of paper independently and see whether they can come up with no more than a two page error. For the state as a whole, the actual change in vote amounted to three one-hundredths of a percent. That's a three page error in 20 reams of paper.
* * * RASMUSSEN RESEARCH: A Portrait of America national telephone survey found supporters of both George W. Bush and Al Gore think their man won the Presidency on November 7. Specifically, 79% of those who voted for the Vice-President think that he won the election. Among Bush supporters, 95% think the Governor of Texas won. Additionally, just 28% of American voters are "very confident" we will ever know who really won. At the other end of the spectrum, 13% are not at all confident we'll ever know who really won. Just 7% give the US system of elections an excellent rating, while 31% say our system is "good." However, 37% rate our election process as just "fair" while 22% say poor.
33% of all voters think there should be a new election in Florida, while just 23% want a new election in all 50 states. 31% of voters believe the Electoral College should be abolished; 33% say it should be reformed; and 32% believe it should be left unchanged.
In another aspect of the survey demonstrating a generic lack of confidence in the reliability of our electoral process, 25% believe that fraud has determined election outcomes in the US before while 27% say it has not. An astonishing 48% are not sure.
The survey sample included 47% who say they voted for Gore and 47% who say they voted for Bush.
Among the other questions:
- How do you rate the way Al Gore and his campaign staff handled the confusion and uncertainty of last several days? 24% Excellent 21% Good 15% Fair 39% Poor 1% Not sure
- How do you rate the way George W. Bush and his campaign staff handled the confusion and uncertainty of last several days? 22% Excellent 29% Good 27% Fair 21% Poor 1% Not sure
* * * KOB TV NEWS: Bernalillo County released its final results from hand counted and "in lieu of absentee" ballots that give George W. Bush a 126-vote lead in New Mexico. But down south, the FLA Ana County clerk has discovered a 500-vote oversight that could swing the state back in favor of Al Gore . . . Meanwhile, State Police all over New Mexico continue to guard ballots. As of Monday night, ballots in all but Hidalgo and Grant counties in New Mexico's "boot heel" had been impounded. Neither Republicans or Democrats are willing to give up the presidential race in New Mexico.
KOB TV NEWS
NEW YORK: The New York Mets announced today that they are going to court to get an additional inning added to the end of Game 5 of the World Series. The batting, pitching, and bench coaches for the Mets held a press conference earlier today. They were joined by members of the Major League Players Union.
"We meant to hit those pitches from the Yankee pitchers," said the Mets batting coach. "We were confused by the irregularities of the pitches we received and believe we have been denied our right to hit." One claim specifically noted that a small percentage of the Mets batters had intended to swing at fast balls, but actually swung at curve balls.
WATCHING THE COUNTIES
[Yesterday we mentioned the difference between the land area subsumed by the Gore and Bush votes. The map mentioned below is well worth examining as it helps to explain why the electoral college still performs a useful function]
JILL LAWRENCE: Geography is perhaps the most striking yardstick by which to measure the gulf between those who voted for Bush and those who voted for Gore. The election results might be inconclusive as to who won the presidency, but they are clear when it comes to who was won over by the presidential candidates . . . Big-city voters handed Gore a 71% to 25% landslide, while six in 10 rural and small-town voters backed Bush. The suburbs, split evenly between the two parties, continue to be the pivotal battlegrounds in national elections . . .
A USA Today analysis suggests that Democrats have a more urgent survival question. Gore won only a quarter as many counties as Bush. And population growth in Gore country over the past decade has been 5%, compared with 14% for counties in Bush country.
COUNTY BY COUNTY VOTE MAP
If you break the vote down to the county level and map it, an important subtext of this election becomes clear: the two parties are as much cultural as ideological competitors. The Gore vote is heavily concentrated on the coasts, along the Mississippi and in a few other clusters such as heavily latino counties in the southwest. Counties where Bush led cover four times as much land area as those that Gore took.
If you look at the exit polls, you find something compatible. Gore took the post-graduate vote and the ballots of those without a full high school education. Bush took everyone else. Gore took the upper class and the working class; Bush took the middle. The 50% who said their family's finances were doing well went with Gore; those whose families were slipping and or just staying the same went with Bush.
This reflects an increasingly bifurcated Democratic constituency whose internal inconsistencies were cleverly concealed by the once poor white and Baptist country boy, Bill Clinton, but may be harder for the preppie Gore to suppress. The Democrats now consist heavily of upscale and urban voters and downscale minorities that continue to trust them more than the Republicans. The justification for this alliance fade with each year and, in fact, was really only held together this election by considerable Democratic fear-mongering. The reason given for minorities to vote for Gore: he wasn't Bush and he wasn't a Republican. Over the short run, it worked. As David Horowitz noted:
"In the African American air war, Republicans were accused of covert racism and sympathy for hate crimes. Their standard-bearer, George W. Bush, was singled out . . . and in one horrific TV ad, worthy of a Goebbels, NAACP propagandists re-created a lynching and presented the victim's daughter accusing Bush of killing her father 'a second time' [for not endorsing questionable hate crime legislation] "How effective were these slanders? In 1998, George Bush won 30 percent of the African American vote in Texas in his run for governor. Two years later in the wake of these slanders, that figure was reduced to 5 percent."
Until there is a rebellion against the current ineffective, obeisant and self-serving black leadership, it is likely that black voters will continue to accept the myth that their fundamental interests are the same as those of the Democratic boomers who increasingly view civil rights as consisting of their black law partner. No one will tell them that under Clinton and the drug war and the recolonization of Washington, they have suffered the greatest effective disenfranchisement since post-Reconstruction days or that while the Democrats were in the White House more blacks than ever were imprisoned.
Still, the loyalty will increasingly have to come not from gratitude for known services but will rather depend upon agitprop -- projecting in virtual reality a relationship well beyond its true life span.
In fact, what was really scary to Democratic pros this time was not that George Bush was too conservative but that he was changing the rules of who liked what. A ten or 20 point drop in black support of the Democrats could change things forever. Fortunately, the Republicans are ossified enough in their own way that their opponents can, for now at least, limp along by just keeping minorities scared.
One of the reasons blacks have not done as well politically as the Irish and Jews is because they have allowed themselves to be taken for granted by the Democratic Party, have accepted the geographical isolation of their power, and have failed to engage in the sort of continual internal discussion that leads to a strong political culture. Too often the cry of unity has been used to shut off debate. Further, unlike Irish and Jewish activists, black politicians have failed to use that great road to minority power, which is to become leaders of the majority. Jesse Jackson came closest in his presidential run of 1988, but when that was over he turned his back on his new white allies (including farmers) and returned to the comfort of the ghetto. If he had studied a bit more Chicago history, he would have realized that part of the success of its Irish politics was that -- as one pol put it -- "the Poles can't stand the Germans and the Lithuanians won't vote for an Italian, but all four will vote for an Irishman." Thus it is, sadly, that Martin Luther King remains the last black figure to have a significant white constituency.
As the gap between the Harlem and Wall Street branches of the Democratic Party grows more apparent, Al Gore seems politically and psychologically incapable of moving beyond the current party paradigm, which is to love blacks when they are in church around election time, but let them otherwise take the hindmost. Sooner or later, however, some new generation of black leadership is going to tire of this hustle and start exercising long dormant leverage. The Democrats are living on borrowed time.
LIBERTARIANS WANT IN
THE LIBERTARIAN PARTY OF PALM BEACH COUNTY Florida has delivered a letter to the Supervisor of Elections, Theresa LePore, demanding inclusion of Libertarian Party observers in the manual recount of votes which the Canvassing Board voted Saturday to undertake. The letter asked that the portions of the manual recount which have already been carried out be repeated in the presence of Libertarian observers. Libertarian Party candidate for President, Harry Browne, was on the ballot and received 16,396 votes in Florida including 743 votes in Palm Beach County in the November 7 election.
The first idea of a newly elected Hillary Clinton was a bad one: abolishment of the electoral college. While the plan works just fine for her constituents, it would be a political disaster for much of the country. The reason for this is that a national popular vote would minimize the need for presidential campaigning outside of the major TV markets such as New York City. As one observer noted, no one would give a damn anymore about Muslims in Michigan.
Obviously, our electoral system needs reform. But eliminating the electoral college at a time when state influence is being over-run by a centralized and increasingly anti-democratic federal government is the worst possible way to start.
On the other hand, using preferential voting (which would have eliminated all the conflicts this year because the Nader voters' second choice would have gone to Gore)is both a sound and necessary reform and one that would make the electoral college work better.
In any case, everyone should calm down and look at the issue from more than one side and more than one election.
Blessed are those who controleth a county, for they too shall controleth the vote.
Blessed are those who lose this election, for they shall be well positioned for the 2002 congressional race.
Woe to he that winneth this election, for he shall inherit the slowdown and the recession that shall surely follow in its path.
Blessed are those who traffic in drugs, for their land is the state of Florida and all who do business or count votes in that land shall hold their name in awe.
Woe to those who ask for a recount in Florida without knowing the probable outcome of recounts in New Mexico and other lands.
Blessed is the name of Daley for the gift of counting invested in that name shall pass unto the second generation though few in the media shall recall it.
Sad is the heart of James Baker for having said in 1992 of those once of the land of Israel, "Fuck 'em. They didn't vote for us." Like locusts they have arisen in Palm Beach to cast their votes for Pat Buchanan in numbers beyond that which the Democratic heart can imagine without challenge.
BEST STORIES HEARD ALL WEEK
Former long-time Senate aide Ron Linton swears that in West Virginia during the 1960 primary, one polling place was on the second floor of a fire house. The ballot box was slipped under the fire pole and then raised to the second floor. There, each voter's name would be called as the ballot fell through the bottomless ballot box to the ward heeler doing a loyalty check below . . . Linton, a longtime Senate aide, also recalls one race in which the vote fraud was so bad that a campaign worker complained, "They even took my brother's and my wife's vote."
BEST MAINE VOTING STORY
There was a town in Maine where the vote was always 267 Republicans to one Democrat. Everyone was pretty sure who the one Democrat was and he lived a fairly ostracized life, although no one would directly accuse him of his apostasy. Finally, the man died. The next year, the vote was 266 Republicans to one Democrat. The local paper headlined the story: "We Buried the Wrong Man."
THE DEMOCRATIC EDGE
Our hunch is that the Democrats are going to win this. This is based on historical rather than statistical analysis. The Democrats are simply much better at stealing votes than Republicans. This doesn't mean Republicans are more honest; they simply have less experience in running large, corrupt political machines and are less competent when they get the chance. There are exceptions; for example your editor got his start in politics as a 12-year-old stuffing envelopes in a campaign that brought to an end 69 years of GOP dominance in Philadelphia. But the great names of political corruption are overwhelmingly Democratic, from Grant to Daley, from Boss Tweed to Bill Clinton. And remember that of the last three Republican presidents sullied with corruption, one was forced to resign and the other lost re-election. Only Ronald Reagan, a former Democrat, survived. Clinton not only survived impeachment but demanded an apology. As in more conventional politics, Republicans just aren't as good at corruption as Democrats. Thus the Democratic tears being shed in Florida are those of the crocodile -- geographically compatible but historically unjustified.
SHREVEPORT LA TIMES: It's a ballot that perplexed Florida voters but was no match for the wits of first- and fourth-graders at Stockwell Elementary School in Bossier City. Disillusioned and upset by the lingering chaos of this week's presidential election, fourth-grade teacher Lisa Burns pulled a sample of the controversial Palm Beach County, Fla., ballot off the Internet on Thursday. She then put her class of 9 and 10-year-olds to the test," reporter Don Walker writes. "I gave them a ballot and had them take a blue marker to vote for Al Gore and a red marker to vote for George Bush. Then I had them put their name on the bottom of the ballot and turn it in . . . Not one of the 22 students present in class Thursday was confused by the ballot. Each one was marked without error.
[A test by a first grade teacher down the hall found that 19 of 22 6-7 year olds could correctly pick out Gore's circle on a butterfly ballot shown on a screen. So the competence of the voters who cast incorrect ballots in Palm Beach County would appear to be somewhere between that of a six and an eight year-old]
THERE IS THE POSSIBILITY that the Florida count won't be finished in time for the electoral college vote, which would mean that Gore would win based on the remaining electoral vote.
THERE IS THE REMOTE POSSIBILITY that due to various recounts and Maine splitting its vote, that the electoral count could end in a tie. In this case, the question of the capital colony's status would come up. Although DC has no vote in the House, it does have the status of a state for electoral college purposes, hence the argument could be made that its Democratic and normally non-voting delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton should be allowed to cast a vote on the presidency.
GUARDIAN, LONDON: Miami's Dade county was at the center of a storm in an earlier election nail-biter. In 1876, a recount was ordered in the county, to help resolve the disputed presidential contest between Rutherford Hayes, a Republican, and his Democratic opponent, Samuel Tilden. Even though the county, a malarial swamp at that time, had only 85 residents, it was so slow in delivering its votes that the US erupted in fury. A New York newspaper printed an editorial asking: "Where the hell is Dade county?"
CNN HAD MORE THAN 3.5 million visitors to its site on election day.
REUTERS: A federal judge the eve of Election Day rejected a lawsuit by a civil rights group that sought to force California authorities to allow Web sites aimed at so-called "Nader-traders." US District Judge Robert Kelleher, in a two-sentence ruling, said he found no cause to grant a temporary restraining order sought by the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California.
REUTERS: As the United States stewed over Tuesday's inconclusive presidential election, there was plenty of derisive glee . . . In Moscow, where elections are often questioned by outside observers, the head of Russia's Central Election Commission sniffed: "Our presidential elections are conducted in more (of) a democratic fashion and are more easily understood by voters" than the US elections that brought no clear winner . . . In Mexico City, another place where vote fraud has been chronically alleged, the Mexican media smelled a rat north of the border . . . "In this photo finish ... something bad is going on in Florida," said Pedro Ferriz, a commentator for Mexico City's Imagen radio. Mexican commentators and conspiracy theorists drew parallels between the vote count in Florida and past election shenanigans that helped maintain Mexico's Institutional Revolutionary Party in power for seven decades . . . "A Day as a Banana Republic," the Rome daily newspaper La Repubblica wrote in a headline about the US vote. "The first election of the new millennium has brought America into the realm of the surreal," the newspaper said . . .
GORE NOT ONLY LOST his home state of Tennessee and the home state of his mentor, Bill Clinton, but the counties formerly in the congressional district he represented in the House between 1976 and 1984.
MORE NADER HOT SPOTS: 11% in Tomkins County, NY
IT COULD BE WORSE
President Estrada of the Philippines is accused not only of having mistresses in several locations but of making critical national decisions during late night drinking and gambling bouts.
HELP IS AVAILABLE
AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE: African nations suggested Friday sending 'observers' to the United States to help overcome presidential poll confusion as the world's press argued over whether it was witnessing electoral chaos or simply democracy in action. "International observers should be put in place" because "the United States must join the established democracies," said South Africa's daily Star. A top aide to Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe endorsed the idea: "perhaps now we have reached a time when they can learn a lot from us. Maybe Africans and others should send observers to help Americans deal with their democracy." Others fantasized about observers dressed in Hawaiian shirts and Bermuda shorts, alongside UN Blue Helmets, investigating Al Gore's campaign claim there were "serious and substantial irregularities" in the ballot. "It is a shameful reflection on our continent that, in the US's hour of need, we were not there beside our American brothers and sisters to help and advise where we could," said an editorial in South Africa's weekly Mail.
THE MACHINE BEHIND THE MACHINE
CHRISTOPHER SPENCER, ARKANSAS DEMOCRAT-GAZETTE: Paul Nolte of Little Rock knows a lot about chad -- the little pieces of paper left after a punch-hole ballot is cast . . . Nolte's company sold the software that created and counted the punch-hole ballots in Broward and Palm Beach counties in Florida, where Democrats are seeking hand recounts of ballots cast to elect the next US president. The Palm Beach County ballot, which is under extreme scrutiny for its listing of candidates, was designed with Election Resources Corp. software, Nolte said. The so-called "butterfly ballot," which Nolte said is not a common term in the industry, is being disputed because some Palm Beach County voters claim that the ballot card is confusing and caused votes for Al Gore to be miscast as votes for Pat Buchanan . . . "It's not something that someone consciously decides to do," Nolte said. "It's not a bad ballot design, but it always results from space limitations." The same style ballot was used in Saline and Hot Spring counties and wasn't a problem, Nolte said.
[Saline County has been a center of drug operations and Hot Springs, where Clinton was raised, was long a resort town for the northern mobs]
CONSERVATIVE NEWS SERVICE: The "Butterfly" voting system, currently under intense national scrutiny in Florida, is similar to the voting system used in several counties in West Virginia and is nearly identical to the one used in Cook County, Illinois - home to Gore campaign chairman William Daley . . . A similar Butterfly Ballot is also used in a dozen West Virginia counties without any incident . . . The 12 counties in West Virginia that rely on the Butterfly system, which uses a punch card method, have had no complaints. Deputy West Virginia Secretary of State Jan Casto says she doesn't fully understand the problem Florida voters had with it, as its use does not require a degree in rocket science. "We have a very knowledgeable society. I mean, they use VCRs, computers, and recording equipment, " said Casto.
CAMPAIGNS & ELECTIONS
MEANWHILE, IN NEW MEXICO
ALBUQUERQUE JOURNAL: The final round of ballot counting to determine the presidential winner in New Mexico's hair-breadth election could be delayed if a request by Republicans to impound ballots is granted in all the state's 33 counties . . . With Republican George W. Bush clinging to a slim 17-point vote lead over Democrat Al Gore, the final 370 or so special absentee ballots in New Mexico were still to be tallied, leaving the state too close to call . . . State police on Monday had impounded ballots in several district.
[The Journal also reported that "The conduct of Bernalillo County's vote count has election experts across the country shaking their heads in disbelief."]
At moments like this, we appreciate the good sense and calm of most of our readers. While Al Gore airlifts lawyers into Florida and George Bush tries to psych America into thinking he's the next president, it is a relief to learn from one reader that the recount is merely to determine which loser wins . . . and from another that the fate of the American empire is now in the hands of 19,000 people too dumb to fill out a ballot right.
At this point we are enduring a faux crisis. This doesn't mean -- under the rules of postmodernism -- that it won't turn into a real one, but the only truly unusual thing that has happened so far is that Americans are learning how their votes are really counted. This is one more secret the media has kept from them as it struggles to maintain the illusion of integrity about the system for which it shills.
Vote fraud is nothing new. As Boss Tweed said in the late 19th century: "As long as I count the votes, what are you going to do about it?" Of all the vote scams that have occurred in intervening years, one of our favorite involves the short-pencil man. This fellow would be at the polls when they opened. He would get a ballot but wouldn't cast it. Rather, he would step outside, fill out the ballot with a covertly short pencil and hand it to the first loyal party member who came by. The voter would in turn get a blank ballot but cast the pre-approved one, and give the blank to the short-pencil man. And so on for the rest of the day.
Many of these scams were invented and perfected in Chicago, home of William Daley and Jesse Jackson, now so prominent in Florida. Daley's father, in fact, was long consider the master of creative vote counting, lending a particular irony to his son's present protestations. And it was in Chicago that Alderman Fred Roti ran on the slogan, "Vote for Fred and Nobody Gets Hurt."
Unfortunately, election day is the absolute worst time to try to do anything about vote fraud. To prevent the sort of shenanigans alleged in Florida and elsewhere (see below), it is necessary to have a good head start. Sending Warren Christopher to the scene of the crime to make prune faces won't do the job.
It is also important to concentrate on the right things. Many of those upset by what is going on in Florida have supported a variety of voting reforms that clearly contained within them the seeds of future fraud: motor voting, mail ballots, Internet voting etc. When such reforms become popular, one hardly hears a word about what steps should be taken to prevent them from being perverted. And as we have pointed out before, a massive switch to computerized elections has occurred with barely an ounce of curiosity about what is really going on upon those hard drives. In short, we are belligerently naïve about the possibility of vote fraud until it is too late to do anything about it.
VOTING IN ILLINOIS
[TV and Alida Weber offer some insight into voting Illinois-style]
Stealing a few votes in Illinois elections is fairly simple. Most locations send their ballots to a central location for 'inspection' before they are counted by computer. Ad hoc political employees called "judges" are hired for this election-night task. The title of "judge" is also given to these ad hoc employees who work at the polling places . . . These election "judges" need no formal education to qualify for their jobs. Party loyalty is expected, but often the local minority party has difficulty recruiting enough "judges", particularly for the task of watching the polling places . . .
At the central location, the ballot boxes from each polling place are given, one at a time, to a team of judges consisting of one from each party. The ballots resemble the old-fashioned computer punch cards known as "Hollerith cards" or "IBM cards." Each voter has tried to indicate his or her choices by punching punch holes into the ballot card through a plastic template. Very often, the voter is unable to completely punch out the correct rectangular hole in the ballot card. The judges have the power to complete the action. This may mean merely removing a paper rectangle that is hanging by a thread. But there may only be a slight impression in the card. There may also be only a mark that indicates that the voter merely touched the card with the stylus provided or with a pen or pencil that the voter brought with him. The two judges make that decision on their own. If the judges decide the ballot has been damaged and will not go through the computer, they have the power to replace it with a new one that they make. While the judges are from opposing parties, they may concur and allow all the questionable ballots to be decided in favor of one candidate . . .
The ballots are then taken to the counting computer. This may be a government mainframe computer, or a mainframe computer owned by a local business. A simple demonstration is given to local leaders of the two parties to show that it has been properly programmed. However, these party leaders are unlikely to have the skills, time, or resources to inspect the software, and the possibility exists for a few "errors" to occur.
In Chicago, the ballots are counted at the polling places where they are cast. The judges tend to be mostly from the local ruling party . . . There is generally no supervision with the possible exception of a few "poll watchers" who have no power to interfere--they may merely watch. The judges may simply create a number of votes during the counting process. Sometimes the illegitimate ballots are credited to voters who have died, but who have not had their names removed from the voter rolls. At one time, it was common to have voters casting extra ballots while posing as these deceased voters . . .
Voters in the suburban areas surrounding Chicago tend to vote against the Chicago's ruling party in both local and statewide elections. To combat the efforts of Chicago's ruling party to steal votes, the other party generally has the good luck to have one of the ballot-counting computers break down. (These computers work fine, except on election night.) Since the risk being caught and prosecuted for violation of election law increases with the number of votes manufactured by Chicago's ruling party, the lack of knowledge about the number of votes going to a statewide candidate tends to frustrate efforts for Chicago's ruling party to "steal" a statewide election. There is also a greater risk of the public demanding some sort of election law reform, which might force Chicago politicians to learn new tactics to steal elections. When the final vote count for the city of Chicago is reported, the malfunctioning computer starts counting votes again . . .
Chicago politicians talk about "trading votes" between the two parties in different offices. For example, one party gets a good vote in Chicago for governor, while the other gets a good vote for Senator. It is presumed that each politician has a force of loyal voters who will mark their ballots according to their leaders' requests. However, it seems easier to get a few elections judges to operate behind closed doors to trade votes . . .
Chicago did not have the most suspicious election returns in Illinois. That honor went to the city of East Saint Louis, Illinois; however they have far fewer voters. In East St. Louis, the total was Gore 98% and Bush 2%. Could that happen anywhere else? Try reporting a return like that for the ruling party in Serbia . . .
FUN VOTE COUNT FACTS
FRANK MURRAY, WASHINGTON TIMES: Florida case-law bars state courts from ordering a new election on grounds a ballot was confusing, and federal election law could sidetrack any attempt to change that. The Constitution assumes a voter's "ability to read and his intelligence to indicate his choice with the degree of care commensurate with the solemnity of the occasion," says a 1974 ruling by a District Court of Appeals. That ruling in a similar case of ballot confusion stands today as the precedent in such cases . . . On Dec. 2, 1997, in the Louisiana case of Foster vs. Love, the Supreme Court ruled that all federal elections must be held on that one national Election Day
HOW THIS DIDN'T HAVE TO HAPPEN
CENTER FOR VOTING AND DEMOCRACY: Instant Runoff Voting is a winner-take-all system that ensures that a winning candidate will receive a majority of votes rather than a simple plurality. In plurality voting -- as used in most US elections -- candidates can win with less than a majority when there are more than two candidates running for the office. In contrast, IRV elects a majority candidate while still allowing voters to support a candidate who is not a front-runner. IRV is a sensible method in single winner elections.
IRV allows voters to rank candidates as their first choice, second choice, third, fourth and so on. If a candidate does not receive a clear majority of votes on the first count, a series of runoff counts are conducted, using each voter's top choices indicated on the ballot. The candidate who received the fewest first place ballots is eliminated. [The loser's ballots are then retabulated, counting the second choices on the ballots.] This process continues until a candidate achieves more than fifty percent of the vote.
Instant Runoff Voting:
- Ensures majority rule, in contrast to plurality voting.
- Saves money compared to costly two-round runoff elections, which often have low voter turnout.
- Increases voter turnout by giving voters better choices. Experience around the world shows that voter turnout goes up when voters have a wider range of choices.
- Promotes positive, issue-based campaigns because candidates will seek 2nd and 3rd choice votes.
- Creates a clearer mandate for a winning candidate's agenda, giving better direction for policy-making.
- Solves the problem of groupings of voters splitting their votes among similar candidates, which allows a candidate with only minority support to win.
- Minimizes "wasted" votes, votes that don't help elect a winner. To the fullest extent possible, your vote will contribute to electing a candidate that you like.
CENTER FOR VOTING AND DEMOCRACY
CHRISTOPHER RUDDY, NEWSMAX: As I sit here in the middle of the night and find out the vote is closer than anyone imagined in Florida, I am being visited by the ghost of Jim Collier. Jim and his brother Kenneth wrote a wonderful book called "Votescam" detailing the rampant voting fraud that regularly took place in South Florida. In 1998, Miami became the center of controversy when a state court removed the sitting mayor because of voter fraud. But the Colliers were writing about the corrupt voting practices there a decade earlier . . . Colliers revealed in their 1992 book how they uncovered preprinted voter ballots in a warehouse rented by a Miami political candidate. Following the advice of their editor, they seized the evidence and took the illegal ballots to the State's Attorney, Janet Reno. Incredibly, Reno had the journalists arrested, rather than investigate how a candidate had preprinted ballots in his possession. uch is the way political life in South Florida is conducted.
YOUR EDITOR RECEIVED A CALL AT 4:30 PM election day from a well-known journalist brimming over with data from just released exit polls. This information was, of course, available to those anchor aparatchiks and talking heads to whom you listened all evening. When they said that Ohio was too close to call, for example, they already knew that Bush was ahead by ten points as opposed to Pennsylvania which really was neck and neck. Much of what was on TV was a remarkable charade designed to keep viewers watching and the left coast voting. But I can't be too hard on the con artists. After all, though witting, I kept the information from the friends gathered around my own TV set. I thus became complicit in the fraud because I couldn't bring myself to spoil a good evening. On the other hand, nobody paid me to engage in the deception.
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