SAMPLE BALLOT DECEPTIVE - ELEC. SUPERVISOR LIED
Dems denied hand count in Duval Co.
The sample ballot in Duval County (Jacksonville) in Florida
was deceptive and different than the real one, according to Gore NE FL campaign
chairman Mike Langton. “The instructions of the sample ballot from the
supervisor of elections was to ‘Vote all pages’ - step # 4”, said Langton. The
sample ballot (which we received) that appeared as an insert in the Sunday
Jacksonville Times-Union says that; it also shows all presidential candidates
on one page. The actual ballot,
however, spreads the 10 presidential candidates onto 2 pages- if one votes
every page, they will vote for president twice (overvote) and invalidate their
ballot. A stunning 22,000 people did that in Duval Co., more than in Palm Beach
(with 69% more voters) with the notorious butterfly ballot; altogether some
27,000 ballots were rejected in Duval, 9%
of the total.
“They were primarily (about half) in the black community
that went 80-95% for Gore,” said
Langton, “Statewide, there were 184,000 overvotes and undervotes, which is an
astronomical number.” In the 1996
election there were only 7800 total votes rejected in Duval: since overvotes
are usually rarer than undervotes (no candidate selected), this election
had 6 1/2 times more overvotes; the total voided increase was 3 1/2
times. There was another unusual result: 5000 Duval people voted for Senate,
but didn’t vote for President- usually the top of the ticket is the biggest
vote-getter, an indicator of hanging chad on the punch cards.
“We’re stuck between a rock and a hard place, because if you
make print so small that you can get it all on one page, then people complain
they can’t read the card,” said Robert Phillips, Duval election operations
mngr. “On the bottom of the page it said, ‘TURN THE PAGE FOR CONTINUED LIST OF
CANDIDATES FOR PRESIDENT’.” The second page did contain 5 obscure Pres. tickets
that few voters would have even heard of.
Langton claims he was given no information about the
rejected ballots by election supervisor John Stafford, a Republican. “The
report they gave us didn’t have anything about over and undervotes. Nobody on either
side had any understanding and he didn’t tell anybody... and I didn’t think to
ask” During the state-mandated machine
recount on Nov 8th in the elections office, Langton was distracted. “They had
surfaced 200 more votes, 164 (net) more for Gore... so I was on cloud nine,
thinking, Oh my God, we picked up all these votes, so I wasn’t focused at all
on that (rejected votes).”
“The next day (Thur Nov 9).. between 12 and 1pm.. I went
back with our lawyer, Leslie Goller, and asked Stafford, ‘John, how many
ballots were rejected for under and overvoting.’ And he said: ‘Oh not very
many, perhaps between 200 and 300.’ I
said, “When can I get accurate numbers?” and he said he couldn’t do it today
and tomorrow is a federal holiday (Veterans) so, ‘I’ll have to get them to you
on Monday’. John Stafford’s a nice man, I took him at his word as a Southern
Goller confirms hearing Stafford say he didn’t have a
number, but “there were not very many.”
Robert Phillips, Duval election operations mngr, admitted that the
election result “were certified Thursday”.
On Friday (Nov 9) Langton was stunned by a phone call at
6:00 pm from a local reporter, “he tells me there are 27,000 rejected ballots and I about had a heart attack. I reached
the Gore campaign in Tallahassee.. we were under the impression we had until
midnight to request a hand recount (72 hr limit). We would have had to go
through such logistics- of writing the petition, getting it to our state
chairman in Orlando.. get it to me (in Jacksonville), and me find John Stafford
and present it before midnight.. so they made the decision- they didn’t like
it- to not go forward.” Stafford could not be reached for comment.
The results, Bush 152,416,... Gore 108,015 would stand in Duval County, with the worst
anomalies in the state.
“It was clear what I was asking,” gripes Langton. “They have
said.. that his response of 200 to 300 was the number of additional votes that
were captured (in recount), well, Hell, I was there for 8 hours- I knew there was 200 extra votes- I wouldn’t
have been asking that question.” Phillips says they were responding to how many
absentee ballots were rejected because that’s what Langton was studying
when he asked, yet a third explanation, but this was long before the absentee
ballots took center stage.
Hammerschlag has written commentaries for
Seattle Times, Providence Journal, Honolulu Advertiser, Moscow News, Tribune, +
Guardian; was a TV reporter and
produced a documentary series on Presidential primary campaign. He’s working on
the definitive story of how the networks got it wrong.