The Palm Beach balloting

As far as the Palm Beach ballots go, of course, I agree that thousands figured it out. There were over 400,000 voters in Palm Beach. There were about 3,000 miscast votes. That's an error rate of less than 1%.

When CNN polled people on the streets of New York, EVERYONE said the design was confusing, but everyone they talked to figured it out. But they only talked to 10 people. And those 10 people got an extra hint that "there is something confusing" about the ballot.

The less than 1% in the Palm Beach voting booth didn't have the luxury of hindsight, nor could they get help from poll workers who are instructed not to help people with voting problems (you have to queue into a separate line to talk to the sheriff to get help, from what I'm told).

The stats speak for themselves. It happened. It's obvious from the bar and scatter charts below. Those were misvotes.

The court will have to decide the will of the people on those misvotes.

And I do think it is funny that Texas just passed a "resolve via hand count" and I think I heard a nice quote by Bush about this at that time. So if hand counts are unfair and arbitrary, why was Bush for them then, and suddenly against them now?

Also, you should understand that there are DIFFERENT ballot types in Florida. Typically Republican counties have the optical scan ballots, whereas typically democratic counties are using punch cards. So re-counting in Florida democratic counties makes sense due to the higher error rate.

And Bush had his opportunity to request hand recounts everywhere, just like Gore did.

Here is a great link to statistical analysis applet: Morning After and there are some other great links in that page.

Here is another excellent link (on to an analysis of multiple punched ballots: The Palm Beach ballots speak

Link to Florida election law

Below is a graph that shows all Buchanan voters by county in Florida with the absurd 350-400% spike in Palm Beach. It is derived directly from the figures posted by the Florida board of elections. (I did not make the graph, of course, but the figures look right based on everything that Florida has posted.)

"Buchanan received 16,962 votes statewide in Tuesday's election, but 3,407 of that -- about one-fifth -- came from Palm Beach County alone. By comparison, Buchanan received 561 votes in Miami-Dade and 789 in Broward County. "

I believe, especially given his loss of the popular vote nationally, that this issue must be resolved in order for Bush to lay any legitimate claim to the presidency.

See also Q&A below on the Florida results.

Dear Steve:

I read all your web information. Thank you. I e-mailed your information to everyone on my e-mail list. I am a staunch supporter of Al Gore. I worked on the campaign locally and I'm extremely upset by what has happened in this election.

The irregularities in the Florida Presidential election are nothing short of abominable. The American people deserve not only another recount by disinterested parties but a complete investigation by the Federal Department of Justice.

The fact that Jeb Bush, Governor of Florida and George W. Bush's brother was overseeing both the Bush presidential campaign AND the election in Florida is extremely suspicious.

This is the first time in history that exit polls have been wrong to this extent. This also makes me suspect foul play. The Bush family was out for dinner when they heard the news that Florida had gone for Gore. They promptly left the hotel where they were having dinner and returned to the Governor's mansion. About an hour later, George W. Bush told reporters that they should not believe the exit polls and that he thought he would eventually be proven the winner in Florida. Not much later, the networks changed Florida back to undecided. All this is too much of a coincidence. Did the Bush family finagle this Bush lead? It makes me wonder.

I am writing to you because I am hoping that maybe with your resources you can do something. I have written a letter to Attorney General Reno (see below) and to numerous online news media and message boards, but I don't have the resources to do anything with any power behind it. Do you have any plans to make a statement here? If so, do you need some help and support?

Please let me know as soon as possible.

Thank you.


Tish Jennings

From CNN:

Wexler alleged that some 19,120 county ballots for the presidential race were tossed out before they were counted because more than one candidate was picked. Only 3,783 voters made that mistake on the U.S. Senate portion of the ballot.

In Miami-Dade, Broward and other counties, the Gore campaign complained about delays in the delivery of ballot boxes to counting places.

Democrats set up a toll-free number (1-800-579-8871) where Florida voters could report irregularities.

Jesse Jackson and NAACP President Kweisi Mfume said they received complaints that blacks had difficulty voting. Jackson said some voters were told there were no more ballots, or that polls were closed.

Jackson appeared at a rally outside the West Palm Beach Courthouse on Thursday afternoon to protest the alleged voting problems in the county. Protesters gathered early in the day outside the building, many bearing placards that demanding a recount.

"It's not enough to vote for a democracy," Jackson said, urging a judicious recount of county ballots. "Democracy requires vigilance. Democracy requires patience."

Both Baker and Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who is George W. Bush's brother, insisted they have not seen indications of fraud.

Does the ballot have to say "vote for one"? Was the ballot illegal?

See Palm Beach ballot: Was it legal?

Is this America?Those 19,000 ballots that were thrown out need to be redone.No question!This amount of votes from a Democratic majority county being thrown out is very suspecious to say the least!Were they destroyed before anyone can inspect them?If they were not destroyed it would be an easy matter to determind who they intended the vote to be for.Most of these elderly voters have a problem seeing anyway! What should be done is a new ballot in large print with the four candidates on it,nothing else.Let them revote!Let every American be heard!

Dear Florida Governor Jeb Bush, Florida Election Director Roberts & Secretary of State Harris:

The integrity of the 2000 Presidential election -- and our great democracy! -- now rests in your hands. Please use the full power of your office to call for a re-vote of the Presidential race in Palm Beach County and all other counties where election irregularities -- such as roadblocks, early poll closings, faulty ballots, exceptional levels of disallowed ballots, absence of ballots, etc. -- have been reported. No candidate should be certified as our next President until the voting irregularities in Florida have been corrected.

I am appalled that this has happened in the State where the brother of one of the candidates for the Presidency is the Governor! You would think that Mr. Jeb Bush would have done everything in his power to ensure that his State and those in charge of voting in this State would have behaved beyond reproach. Shame on all of you!

With respect,

I was stuck in traffic listening to the Joy Browne Show on KOMO radio here is Seattle, WA, when a very interesting caller came on. She called to let everyone know the trouble she'd encountered when trying to vote yesterday in Florida. (She had a slight Hispanic accent but was very articulate and well spoken.) She stated when she went to vote she was told she couldn't because she already had voted! She insisted she hadn't but was told to return later if she wanted to vote. She returned 2 more times after that. Each time she was told she couldn't because she had already voted and it was signed for. The 3rd time she insisted on seeing this signature. She was allowed to vote at that point but the ballot was taken and she wasn't allowed to put it into the ballot box. Joy asked her if she had an ethnic surname, the caller answered yes. The caller was also very concerned that her vote was never counted or had been tampered with. The caller was also stated that others may have been stopped on their 1st attempt to vote by the kind of intimidation she had received. Joy also mentioned that she had heard there was confusion when voting for Gore the Voter really voted for Buchannon (sp.) . Since everything is now contingent on the Florida vote I'm extremely concerned Bush will win by vote tampering. I guess it pays to have family in high places and Bro Jeb promised him Florida. I'd be very interested in following your site for follow up on this.

S. Dixon Seattle WA

ANSWER from Steve Kirsch:

Here is a link to Florida election law.

There are hundreds of people down in Florida from the DNC and Gore campaign looking into this. It will be resolved to the satisfaction of both parties before a victor is declared.

The key point here is that elections are supposed to reflect the will of the people. Yet:

  • There were 19,000 double punches for Gore/Buchanan in Palm Beach and Broward; but few double punches anywhere else in the state!
  • There were an abnormally high vote count for Buchanan in Palm Beach; but this was not the case in the primary! nor was it the case in any other county
  • There were incidents of voter intimidation against voters that would vote Democratic (police stopping black people on their way to the polls to check their drivers licenses)
  • There were incidents of missing ballot boxes from Democratic counties left in a sheriff's car
  • Polling staff are NOT allowed to help people fill out their ballots. So if they make a mistake, they have to wait in a long line to talk to the sheriff to find out what to do.
  • CNN asked people on the street in NYC and everyone said the ballot was confusing. Most people asked got it right though, but the point is that it only takes a tiny percentage to get things wrong to make a difference in this election.

Does that sound like "the will of the people" is reflected in the counting?

Also, why are Republicans in such a rush to ignore the absentee ballots from overseas and asking Gore to concede. Isn't it a bit early to rush to judgment here? Is that justice? I thought Bush was for a government that is responsible to the peeople (that's what he says in his TV ad).

Although apparently the rules were followed in Palm Beach, someone made an mistake and didn't think to "usability test" the ballot. Clearly, the result of the balloting didn't reflect the will of the people.

So should we elect a president based on:

  • a misleading ballot design or 
  • the proper will of the people?

Which do you think is right? The Florida judge thought the latter. So do the democrats. The Republicans think the process was fair (so do I) and we should accept the outcome (I don't because the outcome isn't truly reflective of the will of the people).

DNC officials have asked people NOT to do anything at this point. We are letting the proper legal processes continue.

Reallocation and statistical counting

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