Saturday, October 30, 2004


Broward Co. Florida once again descends into chaos

When I reported last Thursday that the missing absentee ballots in Broward Co. could result in chaos on election day, I also picked up the announcement that the Supervisor of Elections office would be resending 76,000 ballots. Personally, I wondered about the logistics of such a mass mailing.

Well, wonder no more.

On Tuesday, the elections office started looking for some 58,000 absentee ballots they feared had not gotten to voters.

By Wednesday, they had decided to send replacements to everyone who had asked for a ballot but had not yet returned one. By Thursday, they realized it was logistically impossible.

By Thursday night, "they managed to get out 5,000 local ballots and 3,500 more to out-of-county voters." Michael Moore led a rally that night urging people to vote early.

Let me repeat this. In Florida, if you have requested an absentee ballot and attempt to vote on election day, you are expected to return the ballot form. Otherwise the poll worker must verify that you have not already voted. But if you take advantage of early voting, the ballot form is not required. For anyone who votes early and sends in the absentee ballot also, the absentee ballot is supposed to be discarded.

Here's how bad the situation is—

By law, the county can send absentee ballots out as late as the Friday night before an election, Snipes said. But even if voters get their ballots today or tomorrow, they have to find a way to get them back to the elections office by 7 p.m. Tuesday.

Faced with a shortage of people, Snipes on Wednesday night allowed Kerry and Bush supporters to help. The extra hands came with their own worries: Democrats fumed that Republicans were beating them in the ground war leading up to the election.

Republicans requested their address labels from the elections office Wednesday. By Thursday morning, they were already placing the address stickers on their out-of-county absentee ballots. Democrats -- who have thousands more absentee voters -- had to wait, while elections workers sorted out computer problems with the label printing.

Joseph Agostini, a spokesman for the Republican Party, watched smugly as Kerry operatives scrambled to ready their ballots. Republicans had only 577 out-of-county ballots to send. Democrats had as many as 3,000.

You will notice that it is the Democrats who are most adversely affected by this situation.


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Missing absentee ballots in Broward Co. could be a catastrophe

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