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Florida Forever - The political urban legend that facts won't kill
National Review Online ^ | March 09, 2004, 8:58 a.m. | Peter Kirsanow

Posted on 03/09/2004 8:33:33 AM PST by So Cal Rocket

Several pundits have predicted that there will be a huge turnout for the Florida Democratic primary Tuesday, particularly among black voters. This, despite the fact that John Kerry has effectively secured the nomination.

The reasons are twofold: (1) Democrats will make every effort to get out the vote to demonstrate that Florida will be in play during the general election; and (2) black voters, incensed that they were systematically harassed, intimidated and prevented from voting in the 2000 presidential election — the "stolen" election — will stream to the polls in droves.

The second reason is a political myth repeated ad nauseum during the Democratic presidential primary. But political myths can overcome facts through sheer repetition: The New Deal ended the Depression; tax cuts caused budget deficits in the eighties, etc. These myths serve vital partisan imperatives — especially when the policy cupboards of the partisans are bare or vermin-infested.

Even before the last vote had been cast in the 2000 presidential election, activists had descended upon Florida, claiming a widespread conspiracy to disenfranchise black voters. Allegations that state troopers put up roadblocks and checkpoints to prevent blacks from voting were rampant. Dogs and hoses were allegedly used to drive black voters from the polls. Bull Connor's heirs had been unleashed — all at the direction of Governor Bush and his sidekick, Secretary of State Katherine Harris.

The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights investigated over a six-month period beginning in January of 2001. Its 200-page majority report, "Voting Irregularities in Florida During the 2000 Presidential Election," excoriates Florida's election officials for various acts of misfeasance. But the conclusions drawn by the report often bore little relationship to the facts contained therein. And media descriptions of the report did little to dispel the widespread belief among the black electorate that blacks had been systematically targeted for harassment, intimidation and disenfranchisement.

Of course, very few actually read the report. But the handful that did (especially the incisive dissent authored by Commissioners Abigail Thernstrom and Russell Redenbaugh) discovered the astonishing mendacity underlying the myth.

There's absolutely no evidence that a single person was intimidated, harassed, or prevented from voting by Florida law enforcement. Despite claims of rampant police intimidation and harassment, the only evidence of law-enforcement "misconduct" consisted of just two witnesses who described their perceptions regarding the actions of the Florida Highway Patrol. One of these witnesses testified that he thought it was "unusual" to see an empty patrol car parked outside a polling place. There was no evidence that sight of the vehicle somehow intimidated the witness or any other voters from casting ballots. There was no evidence that the erstwhile occupant of the vehicle harassed voters. There was no evidence that the empty vehicle was there for the purpose of somehow disenfranchising anyone assigned to vote at that location.

The second witness had filed a highly publicized complaint with the NAACP regarding a police motor-vehicle checkpoint. In the hysterical recount period following the election the complaint took on a life of its own and apparently became part of the basis for the legend that legions of cops were harassing thousands of black voters throughout Florida.

The evidence, however, shows that the checkpoint in question was two miles from the polling place. Moreover, it was not even on the same road as the polling facility. During the checkpoint's approximately ninety minutes of operation, citations for faulty equipment were issued to 16 individuals, 12 of whom were white. The uncontroverted evidence shows that no one was delayed or prohibited from voting due to the lone checkpoint.

There's no evidence of systematic disenfranchisement of black voters. The myth of a nefarious plot to thwart black voters from casting ballots is wholly unsupported by the evidence. Inconvenience, bureaucratic errors and inefficiencies were indeed pervasive. But these problems don't rise to the level of invidious discrimination. (There was one case in which a black woman alleged that she was turned away from a poll at closing time whereas a white man wasn't.)

Much has been made of the "felon purge list", i.e., a list of those individuals who, under Florida law, were to be barred from voting due to felony convictions (see the "Felon Franchise). The list had been prepared to prevent the kind of fraud that had occurred in the infamous Miami mayoral election in which a number of ineligible felons voted.

The list was inaccurate; it included people who shouldn't have been on it. Thus, the myth holds that the purge list was somehow a tool to deny blacks the right to vote.

But facts are stubborn things. Whites were actually twice as likely as blacks to be erroneously placed on the list. In fact, an exhaustive study by the Miami Herald concluded that "the biggest problem with the felon list was not that it prevented eligible voters from casting ballots, but that it ended up allowing ineligible voters to cast a ballot" (This quote, as well as many of the facts contained herein, come from Commissioners Abigail Thernstrom's and Russell Redenbaugh's dissent to the Commission report.). According to the Palm Beach Post more than 6,500 ineligible felons voted.

State officials were not at fault for widespread voter "disenfranchisement". The myth holds that Governor Bush, in league with Secretary of State Katherine Harris, either by design or incompetence, failed to fulfill their electoral responsibilities, resulting in the discriminatory disenfranchisement of thousands of black voters. This was purportedly a key to the overarching Republican plot to steal the election from Al Gore.

Again, reality intrudes. The uncontroverted evidence shows that by statute the responsibility for the conduct of elections is in the hands of county supervisors, not the governor or secretary of state. County supervisors are independent officers answerable to county commissioners, not the governor or secretary of state. And in 24 of the 25 counties that had the highest ballot-spoilage rates, the county supervisor was a Democrat. (In the remaining county the supervisor was not a Republican, but an independent.)

Moreover, as is simply put by Commissioner Thernstrom, voter error is not the same thing as "disenfranchisement." Even if more black than white voters spoiled their ballots by mistake, that's not evidence of a scheme to discriminate on the basis of race, and it certainly doesn't evoke images of dogs and fire hoses.

After issuance of the commission's report some diehards, perhaps realizing that history frowns on demagoguery, desperately sought any facts that might support the myth. The Justice Department was pressed for action.

The Justice Department conducted a thorough investigation. The result:

The Civil Rights Division found no credible evidence in our investigation that Floridians were intentionally denied their right to vote during the November 2000 election. The Justice Department did find violations of the Voting Rights Act in three counties. The infractions were that some poll workers had been hostile to Hispanic voters, bilingual assistance hadn't been provided to two Haitian voters and some Hispanic voters had been denied bilingual assistance. None of the offending counties was controlled by Republicans.

Of course, there's a reason why charges of disenfranchisement have great traction among the black electorate. After all, the Voting Rights Act wasn't simply a piece of feel-good legislation. Poll taxes, literacy tests, and worse remain vivid memories for far too many.

That's precisely why baseless claims of voter harassment on the basis of race are particularly odious. They inflame racial tensions by perpetuating a belief that the shameful practices from two generations past continue unabated; that a virulently racist hegemony is forever poised to subjugate minorities.

The consequences of generating suspicion of the electoral process for the sake of partisan advantage are at once insidious and profound. They dangerously undermine the legitimacy of government and encourage rejection of its authority.

The myth is poisonous to society and democracy. Its antidote is a relentless, adamant repetition of the truth.

— Peter Kirsanow is a member of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. A version of this piece was first published last year on NRO.


TOPICS: News/Current Events; Politics/Elections; US: Florida
KEYWORDS: 2000election; 2004election; agitprop; algoreisnotmyprez; algorelostgetoverit; bushhaters; election2000; election2004; florida; floriduh; knockanddrag; loosers; lyingliars; mediabias; moveon; rattricks; soreloserman; votefraud; votetheft

1 posted on 03/09/2004 8:33:34 AM PST by So Cal Rocket
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To: So Cal Rocket
Those pesky facts. Nonetheless, the Rats will still keep the hate alive with their lies. It's all they have...
2 posted on 03/09/2004 8:38:51 AM PST by eureka! (The shrillness of the left is a good sign.....)
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To: So Cal Rocket
there will be a huge turnout for the Florida Democratic primary Tuesday

I live in a very conservative area, and the voter turnout at my precinct has been pathetic today (a county sales tax for land grab is on the ballot).

3 posted on 03/09/2004 8:38:54 AM PST by NautiNurse (Missing Iraqi botulinum toxin? Look at John Kerry's face)
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To: So Cal Rocket
The Floriduh Democrat party is simply not that motivated. There are a few activists running around and trying to rally the troops, but for the most part, there simply isn't much to vote for. The nomination is already pretty much decided, and there are no other state-wide considerations on the ballot. There may be fractionally more Democrats turned out than Republicans, but the overall turnout will be pretty meagre.
4 posted on 03/09/2004 8:40:22 AM PST by alloysteel
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To: So Cal Rocket
As a Bush Vote Monitor in Palm baech whom Carol ("I'll go to jail for Al Gore") Roberts told I was "Changing the rules after the lection," I see John Kerry committed to election by Thug intimidation, Demo-Vote Fraud, and Election by Litigation, on a scale exceeding Al Gore's terrible precendent.

Beware!

BRAVO!!

Good post. John Kerry is NOT good for America, the economy, military, the war on Terror, or Troop Morale!

Nasty John the Waffling French Undertaker, who is behind the atatacks on GWB's 9/11 ad, per NewsMax & the American Spectator & now the NY Post.

Kerry, who is personally endorsed by Yasser Arafat, Haiti's Aristide, Iran's Mullahs, Traitor "Red Jane" Fonda, Kim Jong Il, (& Kim Il Jong), Mugabe, Marxist thug Chavez of Venezuela, Castro of Cuba, & France's Jacques Chirac, is a weapon of mass economic destruction.

He'll destroy the troops in Iraq, the War on Terrorism,

& the U.S. stock market with all his negative talk and whiny-leftist-liberal sour-puss troop-bashing, Bush-bashing, America-bashing talk & self-aggrandizing, ultra-negative sourpuss whiny elitist personality.

5 posted on 03/09/2004 8:41:39 AM PST by FReethesheeples
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To: So Cal Rocket
Its antidote is a relentless, adamant repetition of the truth.

Which is why Petah, Dan and Tom are working so hard to dispel this myth...

Aren't they?

6 posted on 03/09/2004 8:42:56 AM PST by Izzy Dunne (Hello, I'm a TAGLINE virus. Please help me spread by copying me into YOUR tag line.)
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To: FReethesheeples
He'll destroy the troops in Iraq, the War on Terrorism, & the U.S. stock market with all his negative talk and whiny-leftist-liberal sour-puss troop-bashing, Bush-bashing, America-bashing talk & self-aggrandizing, ultra-negative sourpuss whiny elitist personality.

Yes, but he'll feel SO good about himself... ;-)

7 posted on 03/09/2004 8:44:36 AM PST by Izzy Dunne (Hello, I'm a TAGLINE virus. Please help me spread by copying me into YOUR tag line.)
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To: So Cal Rocket
Some people want to be victims; the democratic party needs people who want to be victims.
8 posted on 03/09/2004 8:49:54 AM PST by ladyjane
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To: So Cal Rocket
"The myth holds that Governor Bush, in league with Secretary of State Katherine Harris, either by design or incompetence, failed to fulfill their electoral responsibilities, resulting in the discriminatory disenfranchisement of thousands of black voters."

Every time this charge is raised, it abruptly meets a dead end when not one 'disenfranchised' black voter can be specified.

9 posted on 03/09/2004 8:52:21 AM PST by TommyDale
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To: So Cal Rocket
The truth is that the Florida voters spoke loud and clear about their priorities.........they re-elected Jeb Bush!
10 posted on 03/09/2004 8:53:30 AM PST by OldFriend (Always understand, even if you remain among the few)
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To: So Cal Rocket
there will be a huge turnout for the Florida Democratic primary Tuesday

Is this Tuesday? Is there an election today. You couldn't tell by driving past polling places.

I thought 2002 was the year when florida democrats would roar back.

11 posted on 03/09/2004 9:00:06 AM PST by js1138
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To: So Cal Rocket
black voters, incensed that they were systematically harassed, intimidated and prevented from voting in the 2000 presidential election — the "stolen" election — will stream to the polls in droves.

Mary Frances Berry and her Civil Rights Commission investigation into Florida 2000 were not able to find a single person, registered to vote, who was denied the ability to vote.

12 posted on 03/09/2004 9:00:34 AM PST by Phantom Lord (Distributor of Pain, Your Loss Becomes My Gain)
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To: So Cal Rocket
>> The Civil Rights Division found no credible evidence in our investigation that Floridians were intentionally denied their right to vote <<
13 posted on 03/09/2004 9:05:05 AM PST by stainlessbanner
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To: Phantom Lord
Can anyone help me with this?

I've heard claims that the NAACP sued and received a settlement (didn't win the case, but won a settlement) over civil rights violations regarding Fla 2000.

I didn't believe it, but didn't have the information to refute it.
14 posted on 03/09/2004 9:12:20 AM PST by MrB
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To: So Cal Rocket
Even if more black than white voters spoiled their ballots by mistake, that's not evidence of a scheme to discriminate on the basis of race, and it certainly doesn't evoke images of dogs and fire hoses.

The problem we're dealing with is difficult for conservatives to grasp because conservatives prefer working with the facts and reality.

The thing is, many blacks and dems in Florida, at this point, actually remember the fire hoses and dogs being turned loose on them to prevent them from voting.

Think about that for a minute. It's a mind blowing thing actually.

They remember and live in a different reality than the one you and I live in. In that reality, Gore won by several hundred million votes but was dragged down kicking and screaming by Satan himself.

Dems don't experience reality the same way you and I do. It looks different to them as they experience it and it looks different in their memories. Physical laws of nature and facts are irrelevent to them.

That's what we're dealing with.

It is almost useless to try to use facts when arguing with a liberal.

15 posted on 03/09/2004 9:13:58 AM PST by Prodigal Son
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To: So Cal Rocket
This fantasy is so indelibly burned into the Democrat mindset that it would take nothing less than a lobotomy to eradicate it. It isn't just the harassment/intimidation myth. They also think they were robbed because they weren't allowed a makeup for the butterfly Buchanan votes, and because the Supremes chose to uphold the rule of law.

They are already laying the groundwork for their 2004 coup by creating FUD around the new voting machines. These lunatics are determined to have their way regardless of the will of the people.
16 posted on 03/09/2004 9:17:50 AM PST by omniscient
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To: eureka!
All the Democrats have is hate. They are a hollow shell of a party, kept alive only by their visceral hatred of America in general and George W. Bush in particular.
17 posted on 03/09/2004 9:27:48 AM PST by ought-six
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To: Izzy Dunne
;^)

LOL

18 posted on 03/09/2004 9:30:14 AM PST by FReethesheeples
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To: ought-six
Yep. Hopefully, that fact is becoming obvious to the swing voters and disgusting more and more 'Rats a la Zell Miller...
19 posted on 03/09/2004 10:45:18 AM PST by eureka! (The shrillness of the left is a good sign.....)
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To: So Cal Rocket
Oliphant Charged With 55 Count of Election Law Violations (3/09/04)

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) - Suspended Broward Supervisor of Elections Miriam Oliphant has been charged with 55 counts of violating election laws. Oliphant, already facing a Senate trial for her conduct in office, is accused of not opening polls on time and not keeping them open late enough during the September 2002 primary.

20 posted on 03/09/2004 10:48:13 AM PST by weegee ('...Kerry is like that or so a crack sausage.')
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To: weegee
Election Fraud + AP + No party mentioned = Democrat
21 posted on 03/09/2004 10:49:39 AM PST by MrB
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To: Prodigal Son
"Dems don't experience reality the same way you and I do. It looks different to them as they experience it and it looks different in their memories. Physical laws of nature and facts are irrelevent to them."

You sure used up a lot of perfectly good words just to say "Democrat"!


22 posted on 03/09/2004 2:54:03 PM PST by EEDUDE (Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana.)
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To: So Cal Rocket
Glad to see that the 'Q-Tip' was not able to keep Peter Kirsanow off the USCCR.
23 posted on 03/09/2004 3:08:05 PM PST by spodefly (Ultrakonservativen Aktivisten -- Die konservative Klick-Guerilla)
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To: So Cal Rocket
Here's a good ern, backhoe, for the Vote Fraud archive.
24 posted on 03/09/2004 3:22:04 PM PST by Stultis
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To: EEDUDE
Yeah, I suppose I did. But this is something conservatives need to get their minds around because it will be ever more important in the future.

The facts do NOT matter to the dems and their constituency.

This gets exacerbated with every day that goes by for a number of reasons.

But the key point is- the facts that we conservatives hold so dear, are not going to be a deciding factor in future elections. Maybe even this election. Dems don't care about the facts. We act as if simply displaying the facts will make a difference. And it might still do- this time. But it will not do in the future.

Reality, for the dems, is what their propaganda masters say it is. Hey, I'm not sh!tting you here, in the future, Dems will claim that Dubya owned black slaves and that will be reality. Nothing anybody could do will change that. People will believe it with the same force that they believe gravity works.

It's a very important dynamic that will factor heavily in the future of our country.
25 posted on 03/09/2004 3:24:48 PM PST by Prodigal Son (Liberal ideas are deadlier than second hand smoke.)
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To: Prodigal Son
I absolutely agree with you, and it's frustrating.

Black have indeed been "disenfranchised" to use their term, but they haven't yet figured out who did it to them...

Let's all sing "down on the Democratic plantation"
26 posted on 03/09/2004 3:34:38 PM PST by EEDUDE (Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana.)
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To: So Cal Rocket
The uncontroverted evidence shows that by statute the responsibility for the conduct of elections is in the hands of county supervisors, not the governor or secretary of state. County supervisors are independent officers answerable to county commissioners, not the governor or secretary of state. And in 24 of the 25 counties that had the highest ballot-spoilage rates, the county supervisor was a Democrat. (In the remaining county the supervisor was not a Republican, but an independent.) Moreover, as is simply put by Commissioner Thernstrom, voter error is not the same thing as "disenfranchisement." Even if more black than white voters spoiled their ballots by mistake, that's not evidence of a scheme to discriminate on the basis of race

Actually there was one group in Florida 2K who had their ballots invalidated, and obviously not by "mistake," since they had a spoilage rate Fifty Times higher than than others in their precincts: Black Republicans

27 posted on 03/09/2004 3:43:20 PM PST by Stultis
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To: Stultis
Actually there was one group in Florida 2K who had their ballots invalidated, and obviously not by "mistake," since they had a spoilage rate Fifty Times higher than than others in their precincts: Black Republicans

Thanks for the link... I had a question in my mind when I went to that thread, expecting to find the answer there - but it wasn't - so I'll ask it here:

How can you tell if the ballot that was spoiled was from a black Republican vs. a black Democrat vs. a White Republican, etc? Don't we vote using secret ballots?

28 posted on 03/09/2004 3:54:29 PM PST by So Cal Rocket (If consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds, John F. Kerry’s mind must be freaking enormous)
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To: So Cal Rocket
Unfortunately, as you note, Glassman and Lott do not explain this, nor can I find where they have published a more detailed exposition of their analysis, except that there is a slightly longer version of the same op-ed at AEI.

Whereas the shorter version (as published in the Los Angeles Times) simply said, "African American Republicans who voted in Florida were in excess of 50 times more likely than the average African American to have had a ballot declared invalid because it was spoiled," the AEI version says, "fifty-four to sixty-six times".

It would appear from this that they did some kind of analysis of the media recount ballot marking database that gave them these upper and lower bounds. I'd guess they inferred race from precinct percentages, and inferred party affiliation from down ballot votes.

29 posted on 03/10/2004 1:19:08 AM PST by Stultis
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To: All
Ground report: It seemed to be a heavy ELDERLY voter turnout in thisDEMOCRAT ONLY primary.

If you see video of FL voting, most likely it is all democrats voting as there was generally (with very very few city exceptions) nothing for Republicans to vot on.

2000 is their mantra.
30 posted on 03/10/2004 1:25:22 AM PST by longtermmemmory (Vote!)
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