Thursday, March 18, 2004

As those mealy-mouthed, appeasing French say, plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose.

The South Florida Sun-Sentinel tries really, really hard to convince people that paper trail-less electronic voting is much better than anything else, and that all those blank ballots are normal.

"It happens no matter what system you have," said county Elections Supervisor Theresa LePore.

Wait a minute -- Theresa LePore? Designer of the butterfly ballot Theresa LePore is still employed as an election official in Florida??? Has too much sun addled these people's brains? How does she still have a job?

The Palm Beach Post tries even harder to keep the sheep pacified. Let's take their four explanations for undervotes one by one.

Protest Vote: These are the You-can-make-Murray-go-to-the-polls-but-you-can't-make-him-vote voters. Imagine Murray, whose wife, Mildred, is a staunch member of the League of Women Voters. Mildred has a lot of time on her hands and is intent on using much of it to be sure that Murray makes better use of all the time he suddenly has now that he's retired to South Florida.

Mildred is going to make darn sure that Murray knows all about the issues and the candidates, whether he wants to or not. And on Election Day, she's going to make darn sure that Murray goes to the polls. But once Murray gets there, he takes his secret, silent revenge by not choosing a candidate. When Mildred asks, "So how did you vote?" Murray answers, "By secret ballot."

So the answer is shrewish, nagging wives. Wow. How enlightened... err, enlightening.

Just a thought, but wouldn't Murray be more likely to take revenge on Mildred by voting for the candidate she hates?

Dumb Voters: After the 2000 presidential race, the Republican line was that Palm Beach County's Democratic voters must be idiots. It wasn't the butterfly ballot; it was the lack of little gray cells. For the record, according to Palm Beach County Elections Supervisor Theresa LePore, of the 137 blank ballots in the suspicious District 91 race, only three were cast in Palm Beach County. The others were in Broward. I think it's entirely plausible that, in that race, scores of people showed up who simply couldn't figure out how to work the touch screens. This is a district, remember, that elected the young Connie Mack in the first place, apparently unable to tell the difference between him and his father. The lack of little gray cells is a prime culprit in any district where voters are known to have sent someone of Mr. Mack's mean temperament and limited intellectual skills to the Legislature.

So the dumb people confused by the butterfly ballot in 2000 moved to Broward then? Maybe we should have an IQ test at the door to determine whether people should be allowed to vote or not.

And I thought the whole point of the electronic system was to be as idiot-proof as possible. Mind you, with Theresa LePore is charge, 'idiot-proof' could mean 'proof that the idiots are still running things.'

Pranksters/Activists: If it wasn't dumb Republicans, maybe it was mischievous Democrats. Since only Republicans were running, the race became a "universal primary" in which Democrats could vote. By the time the District 91 election came along, U.S. Rep. Robert Wexler, D-Delray Beach, and other Democrats were demanding a paper trail so elections officials would have something to count in the event of questionable results -- such as inexplicable under-votes. It is possible that people favoring a paper trail intentionally cast blank ballots to further their cause.

So there was a concerted effort to gum up the works with undervotes... and only 137 people participated? Conclusion: the Democrats are not only anti-democratic by trying to sabotage the system, but poorly organized and incompetent as well. Got it.

Voters On A Streak: Ms. LePore, asked this week to explain the blank ballots, said many probably just "want to keep up a record of voting in every election."

Ah, election junkies, of course. That explains everything. They're just jonesing for their ballot fix, man. Whoa, dude, I just scored some primo 'local initiative to install traffic calming areas in Boca Raton'...

Wexler's right -- ballot systems without paper trails contravene Florida's manual recount law, not to mention the Supremes' decision in Gore v Bush. And no amount of strident, over-the-top excusifying (I got so mad I had to make up a word) is going to change that.

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