Report: Far Fewer Florida Absentee Ballots Than Expected
WASHINGTON, NOVEMBER 15With the presidential election supposedly hanging on Friday's count of absentee ballots from overseas, observers caution this potential bomb may turn out to be a dud. So far only 447 military ballots have been received by the postal authorities. At that rate, The Washington Post calculates, the amount of military ballots would end up at an underwhelming 750a far cry from the originally projected 2300. Military votes were projected to make up the bulk of overseas ballots, which are set to be tallied on Friday, November 17.
As the Voice reported last week, Monte Friedkin, chairman of the Palm Beach County Democratic Party, said state elections officials had not picked up at least 500 absentee ballots from the post office on Election Day, raising the possibility that someone is tampering with the absentee vote.
In theory, absentee ballots from the armed forces would help Republican George W. Bush, who clings to a slender 300-vote margin. In 1996, Republican Bob Dole received most of those votes. But Pentagon observers caution this may not be the case. While there is no love lost for Clinton-Gore among the military branches, it's not a done deal by any means. Soldiers and sailors vote along class lines, with the brass going for Bush. But the enlisted soldiers, especially black men and women, could just as easily turn out for Gore.
Florida beefed up its laws governing absentee ballots after a Miami election was overturned due to fraud. But Democrats question whether the statutes are working, because they claim Republican-controlled county elections officials violated the law by sending out absentee ballots to people who didn't ask for them. State law stipulates voters must request absentee ballots.
Perhaps the small number of absentee ballots can be explained by the following: WorldNetDaily reported yesterday that a source on the USS Tarawa, a U.S. assault ship near Yemen, said that "thousands" of ballots were languishing onboard.
The Pentagon, which first denied this report, now says, according to the New York Post, that the ballots of some 3000 sailors and marines on the USS Tarawa, USS Duluth, and USS Anchorage would be flown back to the United States "expeditiously."
Capt. Van P. Brinson, who says he did not receive his absentee ballot, told WorldNetDaily he penned a November 8 e-mail in which he wrote: "I cannot speak for the remainder of the crew of the Tarawa, but I do know that the majority of the Marines and sailors that I have spoken with are in the same boat. What is distressing about the situation is that a majority of the pilots aboard are registered voters in Florida." Stripped of confusing press reporting and legalistic mumbo jumbo, the results of the endless Florida recount so far amount to next to nothing. According to Sam Smiths Prorev.com afternoon tally, after a week of recounting, the change in the vote "finally certified by the state for Palm Beach County represented two-tenths of 1 percent." As reported previously, Gore carried Palm Beach County by 140,000 votes, collecting 24 percent of the total vote.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss Village Voice's biggest stories.