November 9, 2000
12:56 PM   Subscribe

There ARE 2,856 people who WOULD and DID vote for Buchanan once before. (for people who are whining about there not being 3000 people in Palm Beach who would vote for Buchanan)
posted by jamescblack (41 comments total)
 
Like to point out that these are for the Republican primary. Sure, there were 2856 Republicans in Palm Beach that voted for Buchanan in the primary. Do you think it is at all likely that those same people decided not to vote for Bush in this tight election?

The comment is interesting, but that's about it.

Did Buchanan run in the actual election as an independent? If so, that result would be much more interesting.
posted by crumblydonut at 1:02 PM on November 9, 2000


Four years ago, in a republican primary (not a general election).

If you need someone to explain why that's different, um, where's that damn dancing baby.

posted by alan at 1:05 PM on November 9, 2000


Go see what Buchanan is saying about these votes. He doesn't want them.
posted by gluechunk at 1:14 PM on November 9, 2000


Ya, points to the usually crummy Buchanan.

Again, it's nice of him to say so, but it means very little.

Perhaps there can be an agreement where a run off election is not called, but the canidates in the disputed and/or invalid ballots decide to split the votes 50-50.


posted by crumblydonut at 1:27 PM on November 9, 2000


I'd like to undertake a study of directly comparing apples with oranges. Would anyone like to fund me?
posted by jkottke at 1:48 PM on November 9, 2000


Typical of the neo-nazi Buchanan. He doesn't want to be associated with, as he terms it, "the Jew vote."

Hope I didn't offend any Buchanan supporters out there in Mefi land. :)

Jason, I'll donate a quarter.
posted by daveadams at 1:49 PM on November 9, 2000


Jason, I'll fund you with Monopoly money. I've got tons.
posted by pnevares at 1:50 PM on November 9, 2000


Speaking of Monopoly, has anyone played the new dot com edition of it? Reviews?
posted by gluechunk at 1:55 PM on November 9, 2000


Apparenly there is already a body of scholarly work on apple-orange comparison.
posted by iceberg273 at 1:59 PM on November 9, 2000


Palm Beach County is a Pat Buchanan stronghold and that's why Pat Buchanan received 3,407 votes there. -- Statement by Bush spokesman Ari Fleischer on Palm Beach County

Uhm, right.
posted by kat at 2:05 PM on November 9, 2000


Pretty good snapshot of America.
posted by thirteen at 2:13 PM on November 9, 2000


This is the only REAL picture I've seen of the ballot in question. Note the holes, how could ANYONE get this wrong? Some people amaze me. ...check it, b/c this image looks so much different than the graphic versions seen on the news.
posted by jamescblack at 2:40 PM on November 9, 2000


Except that ballots are generally always lined up on ONE SIDE ONLY and the holes correspond to the names exactly. If you look at the left side of the Palm Beach ballot, Gore is the SECOND name down, but to vote for him, you must punch the THIRD hole. Then you look at the little decorative-looking black arrows, say "Holy crap! He's the second name down, but the third punch!" but by then it's too late.

Keep in mind that you vote under often very rushed and poorly lit conditions, standing in one of those tiny vestibule things in a smelly gym with a line of impatient citizens waiting behind you. It's imperative that the ballots be very simple and clear. This ballot was poorly arranged. Those arrows just don't cut it.

The information designers at my workplace were going nuts over this when the news broke. They were ranting at the tops of their lungs about how poorly these ballots were designed (even the ones who hate Gore were convinced the ballots sucked).
posted by wiremommy at 2:52 PM on November 9, 2000


I have used one of those types of ballots in the past and found them very confusing.

What I found even more confusing though was the old fashioned ballot box used in my precinct, which still use the big red handle one has to pull to close the curtains, and levers in long rows to vote. I have been voting for over 16 years and I had to ask someone how to use it. I wish some of the people in Florida would have asked when they were confused by the ballot.
posted by terrapin at 2:53 PM on November 9, 2000


It's a Jakobism, yeah, but ballots have a familiar enough interface: the box is to the right of the name. It works, so why change it? Even in countries such as India, where much of the population is illiterate, they get through elections by having a simple, familiar interface. (Parties have symbols -- icons, if you like -- so that you know who you're voting for. Vote Tree! Vote Plough! Vote Sun!)
posted by holgate at 3:03 PM on November 9, 2000


terrapin, some of the people in Florida did ask when they were confused by the ballot. Supposedly some people received clarification, some people got new ballots (because they had already punched Buchanan), but, as mentioned earlier, at least one person had their ballot taken away - "Sorry, you only get one ballot."
posted by gluechunk at 3:03 PM on November 9, 2000


Looking at this picture, I think it's obvious that people did indeed vote Buchanan instead of Bush or Gore.
posted by grank at 3:12 PM on November 9, 2000


jkottke: sorry about the apples-and-oranges study, but someone's already published on the subject.
posted by grimmelm at 3:17 PM on November 9, 2000


on the extra-votes subject, it is important to note that Palm Beach is far more populous than most of the counties in Florida. That point remains an outlier when the numbers are expressed as percentages, but not as severely so.
posted by grimmelm at 3:19 PM on November 9, 2000


I can't believe this is even controversial. The reality is that between 2000 and 3000 people who intended to vote for Gore accidentally voted for Buchanan, because they were confused by the (plausibly illegal) ballot design. Anyone who denies this reality is either insane or mathematically illiterate.
posted by johnb at 3:37 PM on November 9, 2000


I'm not the first to point this out, except in this thread,
that the Palm Beach ballot was illegal by Florida state
law. Yes, jamescblack, if it were just an issue of
people being easily confused, then the proper re-
sponse would be to say "tough luck" to those Palm
Beachers. But the ballot was illegal, so I would
think that the right thing to do is to have a revote
either in Palm Beach or all of Florida, with lots of
observers to make sure that black voters in the
panhandle aren't harassed and that everyone who
wants to vote is allowed to vote.
posted by UrineSoakedRube at 3:42 PM on November 9, 2000


wiremommy, you mean third hole, fifth box
posted by jamescblack at 3:43 PM on November 9, 2000


...third hole, fifth box

and that perfectly illustrates the point wiremommy was making (possibly unintentionally even)! hmm, perhaps you were kidding and it's just too late in the day for me to grok subtley.

i'm no usability expert, but the fact that:

a) the two columns are divided down the center with the punch holes (causing ME at least to read down the first column, then continue on to the second), and are staggered..

b) bush and gore are the two most popular choices, hence in my mind first and second choices, hence the first two punch holes..

and

c) i've seen several different pictures of the ballot now, and exactly where the hole lines up varies, sometimes so much that it's actually right in between two holes.
posted by modge at 4:23 PM on November 9, 2000


By the way, I hadn't read johnb's comment before
posting mine -- I didn't refresh for the few minutes
that I spent composing my message. So johnb
mentioned the illegality of the Palm Beach ballot
before me. Sorry.
posted by UrineSoakedRube at 4:30 PM on November 9, 2000


We hate when that happens.

I heard 34,000 people double punched for president.

You know what I wanna know?

Did they punch Gore & Buchanan? Cause if they did, there's your smoking gun on the "poor ballot design" question, right there...
posted by baylink at 4:58 PM on November 9, 2000


The electoral college should just vote and that would make all this uproar needless: saving millions in litigation, inquiry, and debate. If they want Gore, they should vote for him, and if they want Bush, then they should just decide and get on with it. The markets and stuff are too stressed out by this uncertainty. It's time to move along.
 
What a zoo this has turned out to be. Long live the Electoral College, and US Constitution.
posted by greyscale at 5:03 PM on November 9, 2000


The electoral college doesn't exist yet. Florida doesn't have any electors right now. It's not that there are a bunch of people who have been selected to be Florida's electors, and the ballot simply tells them how Florida citizens want them to vote. When you vote for a presidential candidate, you're actually voting for a group of party appointees who have pledged to vote for that party's presidential (and vice-presidential) candidate. As long as the vote in Florida is in question, so is the slate of electors who will go to cast their vote in the College.

In some states, the names of the electors who each party has selected actually appear on the ballot. The Electoral College Webzine linked on MeFi yesterday has an article that explains how this varies from state to state.
posted by harmful at 5:52 PM on November 9, 2000


baylink: almost all of the 19,000 [that's the figure i keep hearing] disqualified ballots had gore and buchanan punched.
posted by palegirl at 6:00 PM on November 9, 2000


harmful, your link "has an article" states that in Florida the electors are nominated by committee with no legal obligation to follow the popular vote. Did I miss something, or did you have something to add?? thanks.
posted by greyscale at 6:27 PM on November 9, 2000


I meant that the table linked from the article explains which states do or don't list the electors on the ballot. It still works the same way in each state (to the best of my knowledge); you don't really vote for the candidate directly, but rather for a "slate" of party-selected electors who will (hopefully) vote for that candidate. The ballots showing the names of each party electors make this more explicitly clear, although to do so takes up more space.

The official Electoral College home page explains the selection of electors in more detail. And in case anybody wasn't clear on this, it is the responsibility of the state to settle ties and disputes, and a run-off would not be against federal law.
posted by harmful at 6:57 PM on November 9, 2000


Bush Campaign Distortion?

An analysis by ABCNEWS, however, shows that the Reform Party, for whom Buchanan is running, accounts for only 337 of the 16,695 registered voters for the three parties.

So much for Palm Beach being a Buchanan stronghold.
posted by jay at 7:49 PM on November 9, 2000


Hell, you guys are truly bizarre. I can say that this definitely wouldn't happen in Australia.

Firstly, federal elections are a federal electoral commission responsibility not a state one. No one would trust state governments to get this right.

Secondly, dead people wouldn't be allowed to run a state. A by election would be scheduled for the following weekend.

Thirdly, if there was this much irregularity in the vote there wouldn't be any talk about electoral colleges or any other such arcane mumbo jumbo. The result would be simply declared null and void and the election would be rerun for that electorate.

posted by lagado at 7:59 PM on November 9, 2000


What's with this Buchanan guy? First he runs the Reform party into the ground, and now he's trying to give away votes to the Democrat? It's like he's trying to lose.

I wonder if Pat Buchanan really is some sort of stealth operative of the left who's successfully infiltrated America's right wing and is trying to lead them over a cliff.
posted by grimmelm at 11:34 PM on November 9, 2000


Why don't they check how many of the Gore/Buchanan ballots also included mostly Democratic votes throughout the rest of the card?
posted by EngineBeak at 11:56 PM on November 9, 2000


I like EngineBeak's suggestion, although it strikes me as a bit unfair to people who actually wanted to split their tickets in that particular way. Something about a constitutional right to vote stupidly or something like that.
posted by grimmelm at 12:45 AM on November 10, 2000


Thanks, palegirl, for the clarification; yes, since I posted that, everyone's been saying 19,000.

Do you have a source for your assertion? Cause, along with the Slate supervisor's memo; that's really the smoking gun, right there.
posted by baylink at 7:54 AM on November 10, 2000


[palegirl] almost all of the 19,000 [that's the figure i keep hearing] disqualified ballots had gore and buchanan punched.

The 19,000 number also corresponds with what I've heard (this CNN story gives the number 19120), but, palegirl, what is your source that all those ballots had Gore and Buchanan punched? All I've ever heard is that they were disqualified for having two punches, not that the punches were anything specific. (Well, the CNN article also says the punches were for Gore and Buchanan, but not in a manner that suggests they know if for a fact. This MSNBC article doesn't claim the invalidated ballots were punched for Gore and Buchanan, nor can I find any other article that suggests that.)

According to this USA Today story, 14872 ballots were thrown out in the 1996 election for double-punches. Was the turnout higher in 2000? Right now, the Florida State Department website is unreachable by me so I can't find the numbers, but it seems like a reasonable assumption that turnout was higher, given the closeness of this race. So 19000 discarded ballots seems about right to me.

[USR] the Palm Beach ballot was illegal by Florida state law

Well, that's subject to some interpretation. According to this discussion message over at the Free Republic (I know, big GOP bias, but they cite Florida law), the actual law everyone is citing that requires the mark be made to the right of the candidate's name is for counties where no automatic vote machine is used. When voting machines are used, the mark can be made on either side of the name. There's lots of quotes of Florida law, so I encourage you to read that message.

I'd also love for a lawyer experienced with Florida election law to provide some insight, but is that too much to hope for in this small community?
posted by daveadams at 8:27 AM on November 10, 2000


daveadams: i've read so many hundreds of thousands of articles at this point that i'm way beyond being able to find exactly which claimed the gore-buchanan punches. maybe i'm wrong about that. i thouhgt it was, tho.

what's more, this slate article suggests that ignorance combined with unclear instructions "The instructions should say, "Vote for one." Instead, they read, "Electors for President and Vice President (A vote for the candidates will actually be a vote for their electors.) (Vote for Group)." "Electors" and "candidates" are plural terms." Group" is a singular term that sounds like a plural one." may have led voters to think they were to punch two holes -- for president and vice president. in which case it would make a ton of sense for gore and mcreynolds to be punched. wouldn't that be something.

someone come over here and put me out of my misery -- the past three days have already shaved years off my lifespan...
posted by palegirl at 9:08 AM on November 10, 2000


[UrineSoakedRube] the Palm Beach ballot was illegal by Florida state law

[daveadams]Well, that's subject to some interpretation. According to this discussion message over at the Free Republic (I know, big GOP bias, but they cite Florida law), the actual law everyone is citing that requires the mark be made to the right of the candidate's name is for counties where no automatic vote machine is used. When voting machines are used, the mark can be made on either side of the name. There's lots of quotes of Florida law, so I encourage you to read that message.

I'd also love for a lawyer experienced with Florida election law to provide some insight, but is that too much to hope for in this small community?

-------------------------------------------------------------------------

True, I haven't read the statute which states that the
mark has to be to the right (I assume that such a
statute exists, based on news reports). However, if
you check out

http://www.metafilter.com/comments.mefi/4157

people (including me) are questioning whether
section (6) of the chapter means that the ballot is
legal. One, Gore/Lieberman should have been
listed second, which they arguably were not,
given the ballot design. Two, the mark on either
side statement might be a necessary, but not
sufficient condition, as section (8) seems to
say that the Department of State can set other
conditions on the ballot layout.

But I agree with you that we need to hear from
knowledgable Florida lawyers and read more of
the actual statutes.


posted by UrineSoakedRube at 9:35 AM on November 10, 2000


Gluechunk: I was wondering about that situation. Let's say I go in the booth, punch my ballot, and then realize I accidentally voted for a nut job like...ummm... Nader (just busting chops). I ask the "person in charge" if I can vote again because I didn't do it correctly. Sounds all on the up-and-up, but what if someone did this unscrupulously? What if someone was doing the old wink-wink-nudge-nudge and therefore was able to vote more than once?

Just another wild scenario to consider :)
posted by terrapin at 3:43 PM on November 10, 2000


Another comment about the legality of the Palm Beach
ballots: Andrew Sullivan notes that the "X to the
right-hand side" rule doesn't apply to machine ballots.
Here's the link:

http://www.andrewsullivan.com/text/lite_main.html

and here's what he says:

MORE LEGAL STUFF: Another blessed reader has pored
through the election statutes of the state of Florida.
In Title 9, Chapter 101, Subsection 151, there is
the instruction that punch holes or vote markers must
be placed to the right of the candidate's name. But
the statute clearly states that this is intended for
those counties without voting machines. Palm Beach
County uses voting machines! In subsection 5609,
paragraph 6, it clearly states that a voting square
can be in front of or at the back of a candidate's name.
If this is correct, the Palm Beach ballot was
completely legal in this respect. (11/10, 12.30 PM)

----------------------------------------------------------

Okay, and this isn't a rhetorical question, does this
make sense to anyone? The Palm Beach ballots were
clearly designed to be punched by hand. They were
only mechanical in the sense that you used a little
awl to punch the holes out. Clearly, Title 9,
Chapter 101, Subsection 151 applies to the Palm Beach
ballot, correct? I'm being extra cautious before
saying Sullivan is wrong, because the news cycle is
so sped up that it's easy for me to make mistakes.
posted by UrineSoakedRube at 5:44 PM on November 10, 2000


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