Thursday, September 02, 2004

Ironically, They Call It the "Sunshine" State 

Susan Madrak of Suburban Guerrilla has the update on the absentee ballot farce in Florida (see below for details):
It was a hard-nosed standoff.

Supervisor of elections officials growling on one side of the counter, telling Democratic Party activists they had to get out of Dodge — or at least off the premises.

The Democrats insisting on their rights, refusing to budge and risking arrest.

For about two hours Wednesday, from 4 to 6 p.m., the electoral process in Palm Beach County became not only a bit sloppy, but nasty. A discovery that absentee ballots had been miscalculated led to a recount of more than 31,000 votes.

In the end, all of the results released the previous night stood — including Arthur Anderson's victory over incumbent Elections Supervisor Theresa LePore. But the fact that the recount was carried out without members of the public present angered some Democratic political activists, office holders and other observers . . . .

"The memo they sent out about the recount confused me," said state Rep. Susan Bucher, D-Royal Palm Beach. "It said the totals were about 6,000 off but races wouldn't be affected. I wanted to see this recount, but when I got here they said I couldn't — that it was machine recount, not a manual recount, and it wasn't open to the public."

Gerald Richman, an attorney for the Democratic Party, finally arrived with a pertinent document: a copy of Florida Division of Elections Rule 1S-2.031, which states clearly in its top line: "All procedures relating to machine and manual recounts shall be open to the public" . . . .

In the end, by creating suspicions, the staff ended up compounding the original mistake — the miscounting of the absentee ballots. Although only 31,095 were received, somehow 37,839 were counted.

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