NOVEMBER 28—As the battle for the presidency grinds on, Curtis Gans, director of the Committee for the Study of the American Electorate, reports that more than 2 million ballots across the nation—between 1 and 1.8 percent—were thrown out and not counted. “These are people who by one form or another did not accurately do their ballot, and it was thereby thrown out for one reason or another,” Gans told the conservative Washington Times.
In a survey, several secretary of state offices told the paper that they do not keep numbers on how many ballots are thrown out after an election, but “rejected ballots are a normal occurrence,” a spokeswoman in the Alabama secretary of state’s office said.
If the nation has learned anything in this election, it is that the polling system is not set up for everyone to vote. In Florida, where the contest between Al Gore and George W. Bush hinges on 537 votes, tens of thousands of votes were disqualified. There are at least 27,000 disqualified ballots in Duval County alone. Worse, advocates for the Haitian American community in the Miami areas estimate 2000 Haitians were denied the right to vote. The Gore team is pressing the courts to force a manual count of 10,000 ballots kicked out by the machines in Dade County. Today, Gore again asked Bush not to block the recounts. “This is not a time for delay, obstruction, and roadblocks,” the vice president said.
Despite the Democrats’ hunger to have those votes counted, local party activists are pushing to have all the absentee ballots in Seminole County, a Bush stronghold, disqualified. Democrat Harry N. Jacobs, a resident of Longwood, alleges in a suit that Republican supervisor of elections Sandra Goard “corrupted the integrity of the electoral process” by letting GOP workers sit in her office for about 10 days in October so they could “alter” Republican applications for absentee ballots that had been rejected because they lacked a voter identification number. The suit alleges Goard denied Democratic operatives similar access and support.
Bush captured the absentee vote in Seminole County handily, with 10,006 to Gore’s 5209. Republicans say it would be “absurd” to throw out all the absentee votes. “There is nothing wrong, nothing felonious, no fraud, no corruption in supplying that little piece of information,” Terry Young, Goard’s attorney, told reporters. “The Democrats say they want every vote counted, but in this case, they want 15,000 votes uncounted.”
Meanwhile, civil rights advocates finally appear to be gaining steam in Florida. Allegations of widespread intimidation of black voters there, particularly Haitian Americans, have languished while the candidates argued the merits of various election laws. Now the Reverend Al Sharpton has filed a federal suit calling for a recount of Dade County and asking the court to consider ordering a new statewide election. “If this stands the way it is, it has seriously damaged the rights of black voters in this state,” said Sharpton, head of the New York-based National Action Network. “There is no way we can sit back and allow this pattern not to be addressed.”