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Florida: The Fiasco Begins!!

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  • Jerico
    Champion of the Balance
    • Jan 2004
    • 1577

    Florida: The Fiasco Begins!!

    Hello friend. Go ahead. You may have the first word!
    \"Bush\'s army of barmy bigots is the worst thing that\'s happened to the US in some years...\"
    Michael Moorcock - 3am Magazine Interview
  • PsychicWarVeteran
    Flesh Bag of Mostly Water
    • Mar 2004
    • 2554


    "Any controversy in Florida is set to be particularly acute as it is seen as one of the swing states that could be won by either main candidate."

    I would add, "...and is governed by Bush's brother," as I believe it to be a very important point in Florida voting. But that might just be flame bait.

    "problems with computer connections used to confirm voter identities caused problems in at least two counties."

    This caught my attention and the conspiracy theorist in me wondered what the black population was in those counties...

    "In Palm Beach County, within an hour of polls opening, Democratic state legislator Shelley Vana claimed to have received an incomplete ballot..."

    Lovely. Looks like things are going just swimmingly. :?
    "Wounds are all I'm made of. Did I hear you say that this is victory?"
    --Michael Moorcock, Veteran of the Psychic Wars


    • Jerico
      Champion of the Balance
      • Jan 2004
      • 1577

      Republican Dirty Tricks Ahead Of Election 9:15 AM
      By Andrew Gumbel in Los Angeles
      The Independent - UK

      Three days before America's most important election in decades, the country is praying that chaos will not ensue this time, and the world's so-called beacon of democracy will not have to ask the Supreme Court again to decide who will be President.

      Things have already started to go wrong. In Florida, 60,000 absentee ballots in a predominantly Democratic county have vanished without trace, and are only partly being replaced after a public outcry.

      In Ohio, the Republican Party is trying to have 35,000 new voters thrown off the rolls on the mere suspicion their paperwork is not ship-shape. In Nevada and Oregon, police have pulled the voter registration forms of hundreds of declared Democrats out of rubbish bins, where they were allegedly thrown by employees of a Republican consulting firm posing as a non-partisan voting rights organisation.

      In several states, the Republican Party intends to post thousands of vote "challengers" in polling stations, a technique historically associated with efforts to suppress the black vote in the segregationist Deep South. In Michigan, which has a huge urban black population, a Republican state senator has said: "If we do not suppress the Detroit vote, we're going to have a tough time in this election."

      Welcome to the presidential race of 2004, where the stakes are so high and the fighting so fierce the system is starting to break down before a single vote has been counted. Unlike last time, when a nail-bitingly close race in Florida led to a 36-day legal battle, the lawyers are out in force well ahead of election day and the lawsuits are already flying - 11 in Florida alone.

      With them has come a torrent of accusations of vote fraud, voter suppression and abuse of power by election officials. Problems seem inevitable, not only because of the furious battles waged over the management of absentee ballots, provisional ballots, voter rolls and other bureaucratic arcana, but also because the new generation of electronic voting machines replacing the reviled old punchcards have been shown to be unreliable, unverifiable and alarmingly prone to malicious intervention.

      What we do not yet know and cannot know until Tuesday night is whether the dysfunctions of the world's most powerful democracy will interfere with the outcome of the presidential contest. At first blush, it seems most improbable that the election could turn, once again, on a few hundred votes in a crucial swing state.

      On the other hand, the polls indicate a race every bit as close as Bush versus Gore. And it is important to remember that Florida was far from the only problem last time.

      In four states - Florida, New Hampshire, New Mexico and Oregon - the number of disqualified ballots exceeded the margin of victory, making them ripe for recount battles. The reason we heard only about Florida was the others did not control enough electoral votes to sway the outcome.

      Overall, two million votes went uncounted in 2000 because of spoiled, unmarked or uncounted ballots. When you include the number turned away from the polls for reasons of bureaucratic incompetence or intimidation, the number of voters barred from exercising their franchise mushrooms to between four and six million.

      Could it be as bad this time? In some ways, it could be worse, especially if the race is tight and the margins of victory in two or more swing states are below 0.5 per cent. With thousands of lawyers fanned out across the country, there is every prospect that this election will, like the last one, be settled in court.

      Some things have improved since 2000. Every state is now obliged to organise provisional balloting in case of questions about a voter's eligibility on polling day. Early voting has expanded enormously, relieving the pressure on election day. Perhaps most importantly, people are more aware of the problems and are monitoring the process with vigilance.

      But any trust between the parties has been poisoned. The Republicans accuse the Democrats of trying to fatten the voter rolls with non-citizens, felons, dead people, fictional characters and cats; Democrats accuse Republicans of trying to suppress legal votes and using racist tactics to keep black voters away.

      But, one Associated Press poll found most voters assume voting will conclude with a legal battle. Two-thirds of Democrats and 56 per cent of Republicans expect to wake on Wednesday to find the race unresolved.


      Get-out-the-vote drives by both camps will attract hundreds of thousands of new voters. But will their names be on the rolls in time? Meanwhile, the Republicans claim that many voters have been fraudulently or incorrectly registered and are challenging 35,000 new registrations in Ohio alone. In Oregon and Nevada, a Republican-linked firm has been accused of throwing away thousands of new Democrat registrations.


      In 2000, it was alleged that police officers were used at polling stations to scare away voters from Democrat-leaning minority groups. This time, both parties will dispatch crowds of volunteers to polling stations, in theory to monitor the process. But each side says the other will use them to scare away rival voters. "If no signs of intimidation have emerged yet, launch a pre-emptive strike," advises one Democrat handbook.


      After the "hanging chads" nightmare in 2000, many states have invested in electronic voting machines. But these may introduce new problems. None has been tested in a presidential election. In the event of recounts, few produce a paper record of votes, which will make verification difficult. Other risks include malfunctioningmachines or computer servers, and the possibility that outsiders could hack into the system.


      Record numbers of absentee ballots are being returned from overseas. Counting them could attract a landslide of challenges. But what happens in states where Ralph Nader has only recently been disqualified although thousands have already voted for him? In Florida,it was alleged this week that 60,000 Broward Countyballots were never delivered. Officials are scrambling to send them out again. Will they arrive in time? Will some people get two?


      A new federal law encourages states to issue provisional voting status to people whose status as bona fide voters is for some reason in dispute (say, if their names are not on the rolls) on election day. But some details have not been settled. For instance, if a provisional ballot is cast at the wrong precinct, should it count or not? Lawsuits are already flying in both directions in several states over this particular issue.


      Civil rights groups say some states are using "purge" lists (which bar anyone with a criminal record from voting) that will also prevent legitimate voters from casting ballots. About five million Americans have had their voting rights stripped in this way. Florida tried to revamp its purge list after flaws were revealed in 2000, but gave up. More than 2,000 Floridians are now challenging determinations that they cannot vote.

      آ© 2003 Independent Digital (UK) Ltd
      \"Bush\'s army of barmy bigots is the worst thing that\'s happened to the US in some years...\"
      Michael Moorcock - 3am Magazine Interview


      • DeeCrowSeer
        Eternal Champion
        • Feb 2004
        • 2214

        The above post is a fair indication of how the elections are being reported in the UK. Most commentators are focussing as much on the "armies of lawyers" as they are on the candidates. Obviously I don't have a solution to these problems up my magic sleeve, so it's probably not my place to comment (as a foreigner) but it does seem strange that one of the most vocal democracies on the planet can't organize an election that might set an example for other countries to follow... if the current President's goal is truly to be the spread of democracy, shouldn't he be able to at least ensure the (relatively) smooth running of elections in his own country?

        I'm not trying to run America down, because if "my" own government continues to experiment with alternative electoral processes, "we'll" no doubt end up in the same leaky boat.

        It's strange how the modern definition of a "postive thinker" has become someone who believes that a negative situation is the result of incompetence rather than corruption... because even an optimist has to accept that the election is going to get screwy.
        "That which does not kill us, makes us stranger." - Trevor Goodchild


        • Poetgrrl
          Defender of the Runestaff
          • Aug 2004
          • 357

          right? some kind of example this democracy is. it's democratic all right, as long as the electoral college agrees... :roll: *puke*


          • Danisty
            Denizen of Moo Uria
            • Jun 2004
            • 142


            Read'll probably learn something.


            • Poetgrrl
              Defender of the Runestaff
              • Aug 2004
              • 357

              thank you for the link. i'm well aware of how the electoral college works, though, but the information there was a good reminder.

              and i still say, One Person, One Vote. Fullstop.


              • Kitsune
                Guardian of the Grail
                • Aug 2004
                • 415

                Thanks you Danisty... that link was very informative.


                • Jerico
                  Champion of the Balance
                  • Jan 2004
                  • 1577


                  Facing up to the US electorate

                  By Justin Webb
                  BBC correspondent, Washington

                  In theory, the upcoming US election should give the world a lesson in democracy. In practice, it may highlight the cracks in democracy itself.

                  A joke doing the rounds on the campaign trail goes like this: John Kerry is challenged by a reporter. "You are not a man of the people, you don't speak like ordinary folk," he says. Mr Kerry draws himself up to his full height and replies: "Au contraire."

                  The candidate's minders, aware of this joke, have been challenging its premise at every possible opportunity.


                  "... the Bush administration's most important domestic reform has been a new system giving low-cost prescription drugs to elderly people.

                  It has been hugely publicised and is hugely controversial. Some say it costs too much, others say it does not go far enough.

                  Yet nearly 70% of Americans - a clear majority - have never heard of it."
                  \"Bush\'s army of barmy bigots is the worst thing that\'s happened to the US in some years...\"
                  Michael Moorcock - 3am Magazine Interview