by Orlando Sentinel
Forces Stuffed Florida Ballot Boxes
is an edited version of an item posted on the Internet May 10, with the following prefatory comments
by the author:
is a post I sent to Louis Proyect’s Marxism List. I’m
also forwarding it to Cuba News, and to people I send comments on Cuba to from
time to time. This is relevant to Cuba for a couple of reasons. The U.S. is
always criticizing Cuba for its alleged lack of elections. Adherence to “representative
democracy” is being made a condition for admission to the Free Trade Area of
the Americas (FTAA), which the U.S. is trying to set up. It’s instructive to
have a closer look at one aspect of the U.S. “model” of representative
democracy at work, in its most sacred sacrament, the ballot cast by the voter.
also forwarding this to some of my friends who share a background in the U.S.
Socialist Workers Party. As many of you know, the SWP (under its current
leadership) took the position, which it has stressed several times since, that
it was the Democrats (!) who tried to “steal” the elections in
Florida by demanding that more of the votes actually cast be counted.]
are urged to see José Pérez’s earlier three-part article about the November
2000 elections. See the section of the Labor Standard web site
entitled “Discussion of the 2000 Elections and Their After-Math.”
José Pérez’s articles in that section are entitled “Lessons of Florida,”
1 and 2, and “The Real Double Standard.”
the last-named article, José Pérez rightly concludes: “Fortunately, there are other ways for working people to
express and defend their own interests [other than supporting candidates of the
bosses’ parties]—above all, by creating our own political party, beholden
not to the rich, but to our own organizations and communities.”
Orlando Sentinel newspaper is continuing to document irregularities in
the Florida elections.
scope and extent of the irregularities are such that it is impossible to draw
the conclusion that George W. Bush, who was, in effect, eventually designated
President by a 5-4 Supreme Court majority, was merely the beneficiary of a
series of coincidental decisions and mistakes by (mostly Republican) county
most recent revelations concern the “duplication” of at least 10,000
absentee ballots in a whole series of counties. These ballots proved unreadable
by optical scanning machines, so, in what the Sentinel calls “one of the
best-kept secrets” of the Florida presidential elections, officials created
new ballots, supposedly marked just like the absentee voters intended to mark
them, to take the place of the ballots that had actually been cast.
by the way, is perfectly LEGAL in Florida, which makes one wonder why they
bother the population with voting at all, instead of having the election boards
handle the whole noisome business.
this remained secret until now is astounding. Precisely the issue at the heart
of George W. Bush’s legal challenge to counting all the votes in Florida was
that county election workers and canvassing boards could not be trusted to
interpret the intent of the voters, given the lack of clear standards, and
therefore only machine-readable votes should count.
as it turns out, massive amounts of interpreting had already taken place, to the
advantage—thank God for coincidence!—of George Bush II. How do we know it
was to Bush’s advantage? Because absentee voters favored Bush over Gore two to
one. Or rather, I should say, ballots attributed to absentee voters favored Bush
two-to-one. What the voters themselves thought we’ll never know.
is especially astounding because, supposedly, every three-member county election
board has to include at least one member from each of the two major parties. But
the reality is that rich, white Southern Democrats are virtually
indistinguishable from Republicans.
Butterfly Ballot Designer
case in point is Theresa LaPore, if I remember her name right, the Palm Beach
County election supervisor who designed the infamous butterfly ballot. Ms.
LaPore has now “come out.” No, she’s not gay. It turns out she was a
lifelong Republican who became a Democrat of convenience so she could succeed
her boss as election supervisor. Now that the election is over, and her chances
of reelection are zero, she’s officially reregistered herself as an “independent.”
though a central Bush claim—that it was unfair to have humans (rather than
machines) interpreting ballots—was at the top of the news for weeks as the
battle over the elections unfolded, NONE of the supposed “Democrat” election
canvassing board members in the counties where these shenanigans took place
bothered to inform “their” party or candidate that hundreds or thousands of
ballots had been removed and replaced with freshly marked ones on election
this shows is that the stealing of the Florida elections was a much more
thoroughly organized and systematic effort than previously supposed. And since
such duplication procedures were casually carried out by election workers, in
absolute secrecy, does anyone doubt that there was plenty of motive, method, and
opportunity to not just “duplicate” poorly marked ballots, but “correct”
nothing else, consider the timing: this was done on election night, after the
initial pass of ballots through scanning machines, as the Bush camp was hotly
contesting the projection of Gore as the winner in Florida, saying that the
projection did not correctly take into account—the absentee ballots! And it
was done as the Gore call was retracted, and as the final preliminary tallies
indicated the two candidates were neck and neck. And it was done by people who,
despite weeks of massive saturation-bombing media coverage of the Florida
balloting, decided to keep silent about the fact that countless ballots freshly
marked by election workers were fed into the counting machines as the whole
world waited to know the outcome of the election battle.
the weeks following Election Day 2000, the major news media invested
uncountable, unconscionable amounts of time and human resources to “covering”
the ballot dispute in Florida. Not a single one got close enough to the events
where they really happened—in the counting rooms at local precincts and county
election boards—to get even a whiff of this story.
one more detail. I got wind of this Orlando Sentinel story thanks to a series of
items that one of the top news-gathering executives at one of the top news
organizations makes available, a sort of list-serv for “inside dope” about
the news biz, although the form of it is different. Despite that, neither this
executive’s news organization nor any of the other large news organizations
similar to this one, which undoubtedly got wind of this story, have given it any
much for the “free press” as the watchdog of a “free society.”
taste of the Orlando Sentinel’s coverage:
Damron and Roger Roy
May 7, 2001
shredded ballot. (ROBERTO GONZALEZ/ORLANDO SENTINEL)
puzzling endeavor. (ROBERTO GONZALEZ/ORLANDO SENTINEL)
is one in an ongoing series examining problems in Florida’s historic 2000
presidential election as well as efforts to reform the voting system. The
Sentinel is also participating in a consortium of news-media organizations
that is systematically reviewing the 180,000 ballots cast but not counted in
that election. That project is still under way.
of the best-kept secrets in Florida’s disputed 2000 presidential election is
that thousands of ballots that ultimately counted were never even filled out by
no outside scrutiny, county officials on Election Day made new copies of at
least 10,000 mismarked or torn absentee ballots that the counting machines
initially couldn’t read. More than 2,400 absentee ballots were duplicated in
Escambia County alone—about 11 percent of all absentee votes cast in that
the 10,000 ballots duplicated statewide were untold numbers of ballots that
machines couldn’t read but that election officials said showed “clear intent”
in the presidential race or other contests. By duplicating those ballots to make
them machine-readable, officials saved many from being thrown out in a
presidential race decided by just 537 votes.
is the URL to that story.
But I would also urge those interested in the Sentinel’s detailed coverage of just HOW the Florida presidential elections were stolen to go to this URL, and read through all the stories there.
will have to make an effort to UNDERSTAND just what happened. This is all
straight “just-the-facts” journalism. But it is well worth the effort.
I leave out the obvious POLITICAL conclusions about the absolute futility of
trying to carry out social change through support to the candidates of a
two-party system capable of carrying out such fraud.
Don’t forget the big picture: despite all the Supreme Court prohibitions
against counting votes, the “duplication” of votes, etc., remember, “President”
George W. Bush is the one who LOST by half a million votes in November.