Conspiracy theorists, start your engines.
November 8, 2000 6:50 AM   Subscribe

Conspiracy theorists, start your engines. Regardless of the outcome, those "9 missing ballot boxes" are going to figure in conspiracy theories for decades to come -- there are still people talking about how Nixon was robbed by the Daley machine in 1960. (The fact that a Bush is governor in Florida surely won't shut anyone up.)
posted by snarkout (20 comments total)
Eventually, she said, officials told her she had voted by absentee ballot -- which she insists never occurred.

There certainly are an awful lot of absentee ballots down there . . . kinda makes you wonder.

posted by aladfar at 7:16 AM on November 8, 2000

Missing ballot boxes really don't surprise always lose a sock or two when doing the laundry. Then again, I'm naive.
posted by jkottke at 8:50 AM on November 8, 2000

You know, from reading that article, I wouldn't be even one teeny little bit surprised to find that we're gonna have to *rerun* the Florida Presidential election.
posted by baylink at 10:00 AM on November 8, 2000

I'd like to see a rerun, but I'm hoplessly biased. What helps is that the people voted for Gore...
posted by owillis at 10:20 AM on November 8, 2000

I think that we should have a total do-over of the whole thing, across the country. With the following stipulations:

- No more campaigning or polling (I can dream, can't I?).

- Allow new people to register, but a SHORT deadline to do so. This fixes all the ones who whined about how they weren't allowed to vote because they didn't know they had to re-register with their new address, etc.

- Ban on exit polling or reporting of any results or projections until all polls are closed (and all absentee ballots received - have the reception deadline be the day before the in-person polling so we can have these counted in advance). Report the totals only when ALL of them have been calculated. None of this "with 50% of the votes counted, it looks like..." nonsense.

- National holiday on voting day so that almost everyone doesn't have to work (except people in absolutely vital services like hospitals).

- Jakob Nielsen gets to design the ballots so they are as idiot-proof as possible. Print pictures of the candidates' faces on them, too, to be absolutely sure. Require people to put their phone # (or address if they don't have one) on the ballot so they can do random spot-checks to catch any fraud (not a perfect system by any means, but it's *something*).

- Murdering people of the opposite political camp is discouraged. But I fear this will happen anyway...

Of course, there won't be a national do-over. This is gonna be *ugly*, folks, and drag out for a long, long time. What a damn mess.

You thought O.J. and Monica Lewinsky and Elian Gonzales were big stories that dragged on forever? Hooo, boy, we're *NEVER* gonna hear the end of this one.
posted by beth at 10:40 AM on November 8, 2000

I *love* this election!

none of us will ever countenance anyone saying: "my vote doesn't make a difference":

"listen you young whippersnapper, I remember when the presidential election hinged on florida, and the spread in florida was only 800 votes, and we didn't know which way it had gone for *two days* and then they had to recount all the ballots in iowa and wisconsin and oregon, because those results were *just as close* and it took us *two weeks* just to know who the dead voters were, and who the new president was...."

posted by rebeccablood at 10:47 AM on November 8, 2000

I've been hearing a lot about mix ups at the polling places. I'd been given the wrong address for my polling place. The only reason I was able to find it was that I know the neighborhood. And I never would have found it in the dark.

I don't think there was any cheating, just a mix up. Why is it that there are still so many screw ups?
posted by y6y6y6 at 10:52 AM on November 8, 2000

Why is it that there are still so many screw ups?

Because voting is run by the government.
posted by kindall at 11:11 AM on November 8, 2000

That's right, Kindall. Private enterprise never, ever makes any mistakes.

It's because you're dealing with large numbers of people, y6 -- and they're volunteers, to boot. The more people who get involved with something, the more likely it'll be that some of them will screw things up.

But still, stories like this one can't be filling anyone with confidence, can they?

posted by snarkout at 11:14 AM on November 8, 2000

Why is it that there are still so many screw ups?

Probably because county governments are in charge of handling elections and there are thousands and thousands of them. The chance that a few will screw up in any given election is probably pretty big.
posted by daveadams at 11:21 AM on November 8, 2000

Well..... I understand why mistakes happen. I guess I was asking why this isn't given a higher priority. The process of actually voting just seems so prone to error.

I don't even get asked for ID of any kind. There are two J. Sullivans and they actually were going to have me vote as the other guy.
posted by y6y6y6 at 12:09 PM on November 8, 2000

The thing that made me paranoid about voting yesterday was that there was no i.d. check whatsoever. I heard some idiot saying 'vote early and vote often' and all of the people working there just laughed their asses off. It was all I could to keep from punching this asshole right in the face.
posted by Mr. skullhead at 12:14 PM on November 8, 2000

skull, y6, did you have to present a registration card or just vouch for yourself?
posted by daveadams at 12:45 PM on November 8, 2000

Florida, this year, not only required you to present your voted ID card, but also a photo ID (though they were a touch lenient on what that could be). My volunteer pollworker checked my signature and picture for a match.

And it's still come down to 1857 people.
posted by baylink at 12:50 PM on November 8, 2000

Here in Evanston, I didn't have to present any ID, but after asking me my name and address, they did match my signature against the one on file. We used to have voter registration cards, but they weren't required anymore (i.e. you could "forget" yours). Now they've just done away with them.

One small mix-up that could have tripped someone up was the Gore leafletters outside the "L" station who were directing voters to "vote right across the street". Uh, my polling place was three blocks west. That probably could have meant someone waiting in line, told they're in the wrong precinct, and giving up.

I think the user interfaces on some voting systems are abysmal. Mine was tolerable, but I've been using punch-cards for ten years. I like lever machines better, but they're prone to breakdowns. (When I was an election judge in Wisconsin, where they're used, I ran into more than one that just wasn't working -- even though they were supposedly all tested by county officials prior to delivery.) Electronic systems make me nervous, because I know how easy they are to fuX0r with.
posted by dhartung at 1:14 PM on November 8, 2000

In yet another "what will they get up to down there" story, apparently some of the voter pamphlets in Florida were missing some of the candidates, having blank pages instead. D'oh. The candidates in question found out and fixed the problem promptly, and I believe they both won, so hopefully that will stave off any potential legal challenges.

And it's only marginally related to Florida, but I was wondering how states prevent absentee ballot fraud while still keeping them as secret ballots. Can anyone tell me how they verify the authenticity of absentee ballots?

California and Maryland both use punchcards, although California's method seems a bit more dummyproof.
posted by snarkout at 1:49 PM on November 8, 2000

To follow up on the link that Snarkout posted, the "left behind" ballot box was full of supplies, all ballots, used and unused from that precinct are accounted for, and this is apparently standard -- supplies are loaded into something that looks just like a ballot box that gets picked up the next day.

A lot of furor over nothing, really.
posted by Dreama at 1:56 PM on November 8, 2000

Really? Why was that ballot box filled with supplies? Where did the ballots that were supposed to be in that box go, if they were replaced with supplies? I find it highly questionable that a ballot box would be used for anything other than ballots. This does have a stink of conspiracy to it.
posted by ZachsMind at 12:49 AM on November 9, 2000

Maybe they decided to put the ballots in as few containers as possible to aid in counting or transportation to a counting area? Just a guess.
posted by gyc at 9:25 AM on November 9, 2000

I would think that unless you knew something about election procedure in Florida, Zach, you wouldn't presume to question what election officials say is standard procedure.

Unless there's always fraud in Florida... :)
posted by daveadams at 1:12 PM on November 9, 2000

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