Skip to comments.Oops, They Did it Again
Posted on 09/19/2002 4:40:00 AM PDT by trebb
Unhappy about becoming what the New York Times terms a "laughing stock" after the 2000 election, Florida Governor Jeb Bush promised a model election the next time around. Since then, Florida has spent nearly $32 million on state-of-the-art touch-screen voting machines and poll-worker training. A local Web site run by Miami newspapers displayed complete step-by-step instructions on how to use the machines. If you have ever used a bank ATM, voting in Florida should be ridiculously easy.
Yet the outcome of the September 11 Democratic primary for governor had the national media jeering at Florida again. The Times says that chaos reigned in the states most populous counties. Al Gore accused Governor Bush of screwing it up again. National Public Radio commentator Nina Totenberg agreed that the Democrats were right to "sock him with it."
As in 2000, many of the worst problems occurred in Florida precincts that are heavily African-American. NPRs morning program, All Things Considered, said that while frustrations were high everywhere, the "problems seemed worse" in those neighborhoods. Donna Brazile, who ran Gores 2000 presidential campaign, said on CNN that its Bushs fault that the 2002 primary was "disenfranchising black people." One community activist proclaimed this to be a "new Selma." NPR and others reported lots of finger pointing, but NPR only ran one on-air interview with an African-American elections supervisor who said her county had "unequal and unmet needs" that had been ignored by the state.
But a closer look indicates that September 10 vote-counting difficulties didnt stem from racism, as some Democrats suggested, or voters too dumb to use the new machines, as Governor Bush quipped. Florida conducts elections in 67 counties; sixteen had purchased and installed new touch-screen machines. Local election supervisors selected three vendors, approved by the state, to provide the machines. Although the Times quoted an election observer criticizing the use of "unsuccessful, first generation equipment," the vendors have decades of combined experience. One company advertises that its machines are used in 15 states, while another claims its machines counted over 100 million ballots in the 2000 U.S. election alone. Of the 16 counties using the new touch-screen machines, problems occurred in only two counties: Miami-Dade and Broward.
These two plus ten other counties used machines made by ES&S, based in Omaha. Todd Urosevich, an ES&S spokesman, told AIM that problems with new machines are "not unprecedented," but stem mostly from insufficient training of poll workers. Experts cited by the New York Times agreed that "training matters."
Some counties provided twelve hours or more of training and one, Sarasota, required poll workers to pass a test before they could work election day. In one county, 14,000 voters and hundreds of poll workers conducted a dry run on the new voting machines in early August. Palm Beach County, which achieved national notoriety in 2000, also conducted dry runs at local music festivals and used the machines during a March municipal election.
But neither Miami-Dade nor Broward put much effort into training poll workers on the new machines. The local media reported that some poll workers got four hours training, some got 10 minutes, and still others said that election morning was the first time they had laid hands on the new machines. Not surprisingly, they couldnt cope with last-minute changes in instructions for starting the new machines, although this may have been because some poll workers couldnt read English or couldnt read at all, reports the Times. At the end of the voting day, precinct workers disappeared with computer cartridges containing the days tallies. Some machines were later found stored in a warehouse, before the votes inside had been counted.
Miriam Oliphant, Browards election supervisor, was particularly defensive about her countys performance. She told NPR that her county was underfunded, but the Miami Herald reported that she has a $5.3 million budget, received over $600,000 in additional funding from the state for voter education, poll-worker recruitment and training, and nearly $500,000 more from the county. This in addition to the $17.2 million Broward spent on new machines. Her local critics, who she claims are out to get her, alleged that she fired all the experienced administrators when she first came into office in 2000.
So whos at fault? In the "buck stops here" sense, Governor Bush. But state officials charge that locals like Ms. Oliphant rejected their offers of assistance. And both of the problem counties are run by Democrats. Whatever the case, Florida has just a few short weeks to avoid another election day debacle on November 2.
Notra Trulock is the Associate Editor of the AIM Report, at Accuracy in Media.
In the top left frame, our typical Flori-duh voter is being coached on how to use the "new-fangled" Florida ballot system by a Democratic activist hired by the Janet Reno campaign.
In the top right frame, our typical Flori-duh voter is attempting to access e-mail sent by the Florida Democratic Party detailing the evils of Republicans and especially the Bushes.
In the bottom left frame, our typical Flori-duh voter is in a "dress rehearsal" for Election Day. Here she is attempting to make sense out of the ballot that she will soon encounter in the voting booth.
In the bottom right frame, the "big day" has finally arrived. It is Election Day itself. Here we see our typical Flori-Duh voter actually in the booth and trying desperately to remember what she has been taught.<br
Inspiring! A tear welled up in my eye. Let us not forget the sacrifices others in benighted circumstances make for the freedoms we take for granted.
"All LEFT WING Things Considered"
A production of NPR (Nitwits & Perverts Radio)
I doubt anyone can find a state that handles their voting
procedures better than the state of Florida, but unfortunately,
the propaganda machine has managed to convince even
some stately Republicans, that "something's amiss" and needs
to be corrected if a "fair" election is to ever take place in
It wasn't the ballots, machines, or counting that was flawed.
It was those who had intentions to make it appear it was.
Carey and the democraps will only be satisfied with the system
when they can legally use mental telepathy to determine who the
vote was cast for.
I say the rats did it to make Bush look bad.
Some folks might be too stupid to figure this out, but at least the illiterates will have a better chance of getting it right.
Notra is our good friend and ally, but he dropped the buck here.
Conservative writers do well in their articles till the irresistable urge to be " open, fair and balanced" causes a slip of the pen.
His ending should have read, "The buck stopped right where it belongs, at the feet of the corrupt Florida Democrat machine and its arrogant, incompetent Democrat election supervisors."
Get with it, Notra, darling
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