Florida Recount Update -- From Red Rock Eater News Service
Florida Recount Update Links & Messages-- From Red Rock Eater News Service
Presented By Phil Agre
[I've enclosed three messages about the Florida recount. Although
I am obviously comfortable enough about them to send them out, I am
not totally comfortable about any of them.
The first is by a guy who says his mom was precinct clerk for Palm Beach
County. I have not authenticated this message; I am going on my sense
that it's for real.
The second is a letter by Michael Moore about the elderly Jewish voters
in Palm Beach County who are upset at having voted for Pat Buchanan by
accident. It's good as a reminder of why elderly Jewish voters would
be upset by such a thing, but it's excessive in forcing too much of
a comparison between our current election problems and the much deeper
problems in Germany that understandably made them so sensitive. On
the other hand, it's much worse to hear the vicious name-calling and
ridicule that the loathsome pundits have been heaping on these people.
The third message is a provisional analysis of the patterns in the
Florida vote recount. The analysis was prepared in good faith and is
accurate as far as I can see, but I wish that we had more information
to go on, for example about the voting methods used in every one of the
counties and especially the ones with the strangest numbers.
Here is another batch of URL's relating to the election controversy:
On Election Night, Democrats Called Florida Voters About Problem
Palm Beach Ballot Discard Rate Considered on High Side
Choosing A President: Assessing Online Election Coverage
Was Nixon Robbed?
Doubting Florida Voting Data
Volusia Officials Find Three Suspect Bags of Ballots
It's a Myth That Nixon Acquiesced in 1960
Those Florida Ballots Were Clearly Illegal
Election Workers' Nightmare
Bay Buchanan Sees Something Peculiar in Palm Beach Voting
Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections
Authentic 1994 Republic of South Africa Ballots
Republican Spin: Go Home, Al
A Fateful Step Toward Court
Why 19,120 People Voted Twice
With Recount, Having Some Fun
I am quite burned out with the effort of covering this story, but like
an awful lot of Americans (hundreds of whom have written to me) I am
finding it hard to focus on anything else. I am actually getting some
work done amidst the flood of e-mail, but I have started delegating my
job here as much as possible, for example asking people to do research
or keep track of Web sites. If the controversy spreads to Oregon, New
Mexico, Wisconsin, Iowa, and heaven knows where else, then we are going
to need a new approach. A lot of people are following the story in
fine detail, and it would be great if we could produce a daily scan of
the Web sites for all of the relevant local newspapers. But even if
people out there are poking at the newspapers and sending me relevant
URL's individually, I don't have hours in the day to filter them all.
I've had fantasies of putting out a call for volunteers to form work
groups -- it certainly seems like there's enough energy out there --
but even organizing that sounds like too much work right now. We'll
just have to see what happens next.]
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Date: Fri, 10 Nov 2000 10:33:15 -0800 (PST)
From: Ben Austin
Subject: My mother, Palm Beach County precinct clerk
I don't normally send emails like this to a large block of people,
certainly when it comes to my family, and certainly when the import
of the issue makes it seem like the letter might travel far and wide.
But so many people have asked about this story that it seems important
to send it out. This is the true story of my mother, precinct clerk
in Palm Beach county, Florida.
My mother was a precinct clerk in Palm Beach county, Florida, election
day of 2000. Mom's very good friend Leah was a precinct clerk as
well. Both of them were incredibly upset during and after election
day, before anyone knew the import of these specific voters. And my
mother was convinced there were serious irregularities long before
they gained national prominence, and she called me to say so.
I note this because some Republicans are now asking "if there were
these irregularities, how come they were not raised until after the
election?" In fact, my mother and the other precinct clerks raised
these issues from the moment that the polls opened in the morning --
the problem is that the person they intially called on was Theresa
LePore, elections supervisor of Palm Beach county. She was the source
of the ballot confusion, and was uninterested in the issue.
First, the paper ballot was extremely confusing to these voters.
Although both major parties got a chance to review the card layout,
it is not clear if any had a chance to put the actual ballot in an
actual machine and punch the holes. The card is laid horizontally
as you vote, and it is hard to see the holes as you punch them.
And my mother, who supervised the precinct she was in (this is a paid
position, and she reported directly to Ms. LePore) said the card did
not even fit correctly in the ballot machine, so the holes in the card
did not line up with the ballot.
Anyone who thinks this was minor voter confusion has never dealt with
retirees in a West Palm Beach retirement village in Florida, I promise
My mother, following the rules, said the poll workers had been told
not to help people with the cards, as it might bias the voters. My
mother witnessed many, many people who voted incorrectly. Some stayed
on a second line and had their cards re-done, some punched the second
hole (and thus were probably thrown out), and some found out they
voted for Buchanan after they had deposited their cards in the ballot
box, and there was thus nothing they could do.
Mom called me up to complain about this after the elction, and she
called me up again on Thursday, very upset after reading a story in
the New York Times (Nov. 9 2000, p. B6). The Times story states:
"After numerous complaints were received on Tuesday morning, Ms.
LePore issued this directive to the county's 106 precincts: "Attention
all poll workers. Please remind all voters coming in that they are
to vote only for one (1) presidential candidate and that they are
to punch the hole next to the arrow next to the number next to the
candidate they wish to vote for."
Mom never received this directive, and she believes that if anyone
knew they could have helped people vote their preference, the outcome
would have been very different. Instead, my mother and the others
were trying to do the right thing, and they felt that helping explain
the ballot to these people would have been helping them to vote for
Gore, something she didn't feel was proper. These women are honest to
Leah did receive the directive, but not until 4pm on election day, and
only by accident -- someone was coming to visit from the main office
and told her about it. In the mean time, my mother and Leah (and most
of the precinct clerks) had been desperately trying to call the county
office. They had been given a phone number by Ms. LePore and told
that the phone line would be staffed throughout the day. They were
told to call if there were any problems.
Mom tried to call starting at 7:30am, calling straight through when
polls closed, but she got a busy signal the entire time. But mom
was at a polling station with only a pay phone, so she had to deposit
coins each time, and with long lines waiting for her, she was becoming
Leah was precinct chief at the retirement village where they live, and
ran a polling station at the clubhouse. Having a more modern facility,
Leah tried on the phone as well, and when she couldn't get through,
she called the operator to ask her why the phone was busy. Leah had
the presence of mind to get the operator's number (history is made
by people like Leah) when the operator told her the phone was off the
hook, meaning nobody was on the line the entire day. Evidently, the
supervisor's office just didn't want to hear the complaints.
Leah then faxed the supervisor's office with her concerns at noon and
again at 2pm. Nobody called Leah back until 5pm, when she heard from
Ms. LePore, with the following words "don't bother me".
So as this news starts to be spun and re-spun, let me tell you a few
things I am certain to be true:
- I can't argue intent either way, but the supervisor's office in Palm
Beach county is at the very least unable to carry out an election in
which these people have their say
- These people started trying to fix the problem from the moment polls
opened, and were fought along the way. This is not about crying about
the election once it is over.
It pains me to see the issue being politicized by both sides. Gore
has no place having his advisor Daley make statements that after a
recount, Gore will emerge victorious; and Bush has no place saying
that he is the victor, or setting up a transition team. In fact, the
idea that Bush and his brother were together on election night, with
Jeb Bush promising to "deliver Florida", draws a picture at least to
me with the semblance of impropriety, especially now that we have seen
the results so askew. I hope everyone will pay attention to the facts
here, and let the people of South Florida have the same opportunity to
vote that the rest of us had.
You are free to send this to anyone you wish.
Date: Fri, 10 Nov 2000 18:14:17 -0500
From: "Mike's Message"
Subject: [Mike's Message] The Elderly Jews of South Florida ... and 62 Years Ago Tonight
November 10, 2000
There was something about yesterday's demonstration in front of the
courthouse in Palm Beach County that profoundly moved me. Hundreds
of elderly Jewish citizens, many in tears, demanding, begging for
someone to listen to them. They tried to explain that the ballot
they voted on was so confusing they feared that they had actually
voted for Pat Buchanan (a man who once said "Hitler was an individual
of great courage") instead the man they wanted for president, Al Gore.
Rather than being heard, they have been ridiculed across the country
as being "stupid", "ignorant" or "sore losers". They are portrayed as
a bunch of whiners, old people who maybe shouldn't be behind the wheel
of a car, let alone in the voting booth. Get off the road, you're
messing up the election for the rest of us!
This is the tone of much of what I have heard in the media and on
the street: You had your chance, you idiot, you screwed up your own
ballot, now shut up.
I find it more than ironic -- actually, downright abhorrent -- that,
in addition to the thousands of ballots that have been thrown out,
at least a few hundred of these senior citizens' votes, through what
appears to be an illegally constructed ballot, will end up being
counted for a right-wing, anti-Semitic like Mr. Buchanan. South
Florida has perhaps the largest population of Holocaust survivors
outside of Israel and New York. Is it just me, or do these good
people, all of whom have suffered enough in their lives, deserve
not only our respect, but our commitment to see that their vote is
To many of you, World War II and the Holocaust probably seems like
ancient history. The truth is, there are tens of thousands of people
who lived through that horror, escaped the ovens, and are now living
out their final years in South Florida. None of us can imagine what
they went through; first to survive, and then to somehow make it to a
country where they believed they would be free and their voice would
be heard. These immigrants worked hard to raise families in America,
contribute to our society, and make this country a better place for
all of us. They took their citizenship duties very seriously, to the
point where many of us have probably rolled our eyes a time or two
over their extreme patriotism and love of America. Silly old people!
Now they are being told to take a hike. I could understand the
derision if it were 50 spoiled ballots, or 500 spoiled ballots.
Are we going to just discard these senior citizens with a big shrug
and a laugh? They were already discarded once in their lives. Being
stripped of their vote is not the same as being stripped of their
life, but then why are we remembering our veterans on this Veteran's
Day if not for the fact that they risked THEIR lives so that people
like these survivors could have the right to vote? Are we really going
to do this to them?
When Al Gore named Joe Lieberman as his running mate -- the first
Jew to run on a national ticket for a major party -- it created a
wonderful rush of pride within the Jewish community. If there had
been any doubt that they, as Jewish Americans, were not fully welcomed
at the table, this one act on Gore's part made that doubt virtually
disappear. I remember watching on the news that day a story about
Lieberman's wife, Hadassah. She is the child of two Holocaust
survivors -- her father, an inmate in a Nazi slave labor camp, and her
mother, who miraculously survived Auschwitz.
As I watched Hadassah's story, I paused to think of those in her
family who did not survive the camps to live to see this momentous
day. I thought, if only it had been possible, in the final moments
before their deaths, for someone to whisper to them that this madness
will indeed end, that the Jewish people will not only survive but see
the day when a child of theirs is married to the man running for vice
president of the United States! Whatever small comfort that could
have given them to alleviate their pain and suffering before their
lives were exterminated, I wish... I wish... they just could have
known that their death was not in vain.
These elderly survivors and relatives of survivors in Palm Beach
County deserve our fight for their voice to be heard. This is a
national shame and dishonor. Everyone knows the truth here: 19,000
people could not read the ballot. I don't care that the local
Democrats had approved the ballot. Like most Democratic party hacks,
they blew it. So what. Does that mean these elderly have to pay the
price? The Republicans have now resorted to spewing incredible lies,
such as the "same number of ballots were spoiled in the 1996". That
is a bald face lie. The number of spoiled ballots was HALF what it
was this year, and I have been told that voters in the '96 election
DID complain but no one listened because the spoiled ballots did not
effect the outcome.
Look, I personally did not vote for either Gore or Bush. I think
Lieberman's politics and campaign contributions are appalling. But
I and others have made these points throughout the election -- and
the majority of Americans have chosen to dismiss them for now. That
is their right. But if the campaign for Ralph Nader was nothing, it
was, at its very core, about trying to stop the disenfranchisement
of the American people. For us not to speak up now -- even though
OUR will did not prevail -- would make everything we stand for lack
I am asking all who read this -- Nader supporters, Gore voters,
Republicans with a conscience -- to stand up and resist this theft of
our election. Someone has set up a website calling for spontaneous
demonstrations in numerous cities at 1pm tomorrow, Saturday, November
11 (click here for the list: http://geocities.com/countercoup/). Take
one hour, just one hour, of your time tomorrow and go down to where
the rally is happening in your town. Do not listen to those who are
saying we have to put this behind us and get on with it. Get on with
what? A democracy that does not respect its most basic and cherished
right, the right to have your vote counted?
If the person who got fewer votes is installed as president, it will
inspire so much cynicism amongst the citizenry that I fear even MORE
people than the 100 million who chose not to vote will sit out the
next election. They will just say, "What's the use? It's all rigged!"
Progressives and Greens and everyone must understand this danger --
and how much more difficult it will be to organize if more of our
fellow Americans just give up.
Please, do this for the sake of our country. Do it because it is
right. Do it because those senior citizens in Florida deserve our
respect and our help in their time of need.
Sixty-two years ago tonight, the Holocaust began in full force on
what was called Kristallnacht. The German government sent goon squads
throughout the country to trash and burn the homes, stores and temples
of its Jewish citizens. Seven years and 6 million slaughtered lives
later, the Jewish people of Europe were virtually extinct. A few
survived. I will not allow those who survived to come here to this
"land of the free" be abused again. They are our fellow citizens in
our great democracy, and their voice, if I have anything to say about
it, will never be snuffed out.
Date: Fri, 10 Nov 2000 16:41:38 -0500 (EST)
From: "Robert S. Thau"
Subject: Re: Skewed county results in recount
By now, it has been widely reported that Gore picked up about 1400
votes in the Florida recount, reducing the margin to a bit over 300.
However, there is a very strange pattern to the results which has not
been widely reported.
Most of Gore's pickup is from a very few counties --- the majority, in
fact, from Palm Beach and Pinellas:
- Palm Beach: Gore picks up 643
- Pinellas: Gore picks up 478
- Duval: Gore picks up 168
- Gadsden: Gore picks up 153
- Polk: Gore picks up 129
see http://foxnews.com/fn99/elections/florida_recount.html for
the raw data.
There's no obvious pattern among these; they don't all favor Gore
(Duval went roughly 3:2 against him, as did Polk, by a lesser margin),
nor are they all large (Gadsden had 14,502 votes *total* after the
recount). Also, Gore picked up very few votes in Miami-Dade, a large
urban area which, IIRC, uses punched card voting, so that doesn't seem
to be the controlling factor.
Population, in particular, does not seem to be a great influence; the
vote total changed by 26 in Miami-Dade, by 19 in Hillsboro, and by one
in Broward, to cite three fairly populous counties.
FWIW, there are two counties where Bush picked up roughly 100 votes,
Martin, where he picked up 105, and Seminole (IIRC, the last to
report), where he gained 98. Everything else is pretty much in the
noise --- the seven counties with more than 100-vote shifts account
for 1368 net votes gained by Gore; the rest of the state as a whole,
only 89 more.
It is difficult to see how random statistical fluctuations could give
rise to this pattern --- a small number of counties with unusually
large shifts in votes (I can find only two with net changes between 50
and 97 --- Nassau and Orange), with the largest tending consistently
in the same direction.
This, in turn, raises the troubling question of whether there was
discrimination against Democrats in the initial count, and if so,
whether it was completely wrung out in the recount.