"Who controls the past controls the future; who controls the present controls the past." Orwell-- The US is probably moving toward becoming a heavily controlled Rightist state. This blog is an effort to document how that happened.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

The Disputed Election of 2000 in Florida: Part III, Loose Ends

More than a year after the election, President George W. Bush’s justice department hired Hans A. von Spakovsky, an official of the Voting Integrity Project, to see that federal elections are conducted fairly. Jeb Bush and Katherine Harris hired the firm ostensibly to purge Florida voting rolls of felons. Their activities resulted in unjustly depriving thousands of blacks of their voting rights. At the same time, the Justice Department hired another lawyer to also work in the voting rights division, Hugh Joseph Beard. He had been a senior official for an anti-affirmative action organization known as the Center for Equal Opportunity. Bush’s Justice Department never released a report on its investigation into the complaints of the NAACP and others about irregularities associated with the 2000 election in Florida.

On April 19, 2002, Juan Williams of NPR discovered that 27,000 votes in Duval County (Jacksonville area) were not counted. Of that number, 16,000 were the votes of African Americans. In black precincts there, one in five votes were discarded, compared to one in fourteen in white areas. John Stafford, Republican supervisor of elections, had not disclosed at the time of the election how many uncounted ballots there were until the time had passed when the Gore people could file a challenge. A newspaper consortium arranged for a thorough study the Florida vote count. After the Al-Qaeda attack on America on September 11, 2001, The Wall Street Journal, a consortium member, said the study was no longer relevant and was not worth releasing. It had been scheduled for release on September 14, but this event was delayed. The study would not have named who should have won the presidential election in Florida and was conducted by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago. The NORC, under Andrew Greeley, is known for very careful work and guarded conclusions. One wonders why it was necessary to suppress the report. It might have been useful in promoting election procedure reform. The September 11 attack convinced the sponsors of the study that it should be cut short so that a nation threatened by terrorism could unite in support of its “Commander in Chief.”

In mid-October when the Commander-in-Chief’s popularity was sky high, the results of the truncated study were released. An analysis of 175,010 rejected ballots showed that Bush would have won if there were a thorough recount in only the four counties where Gore filed for a recount. The Gore people should have asked for a recount in Duval Country because there were 22,000 uncounted votes in Jacksonville. The Duval official in charge of counting votes told the Democrats that only a few hundred votes were discarded. Gore had consistently called for a statewide recount, and he publicly asked Bush to join in this demand Florida law required a full recount in these circumstances, but there were political and practical reasons that led him to formally file in only four counties.

If there were a complete recount in the entire state, including under-votes as well as over-votes, Gore would have won. There were 66,000 over-voters; 40,000 of them had a marking for Gore and 15,000 had a mark for Bush. Of the over-votes that people clearly tried to correct, 2,100 should have gone to Gore and 1,300 should have gone to Bush. Richard Winger of Ballot Access News found that 7,000 voters wrote “Gore” on the ballot as well as punched ballots for him. Florida law held that the intent of voters must be honored, but these ballots were not counted. Not long after the consortium results were reported, it was discovered that Judge Terry Lewis, who supervised the recount, had ordered the counties to turn in all over-voters for analysis. Even if a copy of the Lewis letter were available, the national press spun the story as though the evidence showed Bush would have won in a recount. However, if over0votes were excluded in a full recount, Bush would have won, even with hanging-chads and other under-votes were counted. The St. Petersburg Times concluded, “more Floridians went to the polls intending to vote for Gore than Bush.” The tragic events of September 11 lent enormous legitimacy to Bush, and the information on the disputed election no longer mattered. Gore did not comment on the study, only stating that he completely supported Bush in his war on terrorism.

Eighteen months after the election, George W. Bush’s Justice Department found that voting rights had been violated in only three Florida counties. No one was to be punished, but people were expected to admit their mistakes and procedures were expected to be put in place so that these offenses would not occur again. The offenses involved failures to provide language assistance to Haitian and Hispanics in three counties. No other problems at the polls in Florida were considered worth addressing. The Bush campaign never responded positively to requests that it explain how it spent $8 million during the recount battle.

In 2002, the IRS, for some reason, was unable to report on-line the soft money contributions of some 527c entities in 2000, so-called non-partisan PACs not controlled by federal office holders. There were no reports for ten of the largest. Some reports appeared and then vanished. Four blank pages appeared for the so-called American Values and Democracy Project, a PAC controlled by Katherine Harris, the Florida Secretary of State who did so much to assure that the vote count there favored George W. Bush. She was running for Congress when the blank pages appeared. The reporting of this kind of soft money is important because this channel for soft-money was left open by the McCain-Feingold Campaign Contribution Act of 2002.

Sherman has written African American Baseball: A Brief History, which can be acquired from LuLu Publishing on line.http://www.lulu.com/browse/search.php?search_forum

No comments:

Blog Archive

About Me

Sherm spent seven years writing an analytical chronicle of what the Republicans have been up to since the 1970s. It discusses elements in the Republican coalition, their ideologies, strategies, informational and financial resources, and election shenanigans. Abuses of power by the Reagan and G. W. Bush administration and the Republican Congresses are detailed. The New Republican Coalition : Its Rise and Impact, The Seventies to Present (Publish America) can be acquired by calling 301-695-1707. On line, go to http://www.publishamerica.com/shopping. It can also be obtained through the on-line operations of Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Do not consider purchasing it if you are looking for something that mirrors the mainstream media!