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 Message
    From: jmsatb5@aol.com (Jms at B5)
 Subject: Why This Election Stuff Is A Good Thing
      To: rec.arts.sf.tv.babylon5.moderated  
    Date: 11/13/2000 1:56:00 PM  

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(3 messages)


Don't know the validity of what folllows, though it seems pretty solid, but it
got passed on to me so I figured I'd pass it on for others for whatever use or
interest it may hold.

jms

=========================
Date: Mon, 13 Nov 2000 01:49:16 -0500
From: Rich Cowan <rcowan@lesley.edu>


13 MYTHS ABOUT THE RESULTS OF THE 2000 ELECTION (please forward!!)

Millions of dollars are now being raised for a public relations
war between the Democrats and the Republicans to determine the next
president of the United States. Will the outcome of the election
be determined by ratings in the polls? Will the present standoff
be resolved by escalation and threats? Or will the intention of the
voters on election day and the right of the states to choose their
own electors actually matter?

Our involvement this week is essential in order to uphold the
principles of democracy. Propaganda is flying left and right.
To combat this barrage, we present a point by point analysis of
some key myths in the media today, substantiated with footnotes.
Please read, copy, and forward to friends, relatives and colleagues!
Thanks!

[This draft #4 was prepared by Rich Cowan (rcowan@lesley.edu) with
help from Paul Rosenberg, Dan Kohn, Jonathan Prince, Marc Sobel,
subscribers to the Red Rock Eater News Service and the electronic
mail discussion florida-recount-discuss@egroups.com, and the Yale
Law School Student Campaign for a Legal Election, 127 Wall Street
New Haven, CT 06511 -- spin@pantheon.yale.edu]


1) Myth: Al Gore has a responsibility to concede the election.

Fact: A 330 vote margin out of 6 million votes cast in Florida is
incredibly close! It is roughly equivalent to a 1-vote margin in
a city with 40,000 people and 18,000 voters.

It is extremely rare for an election this close NOT to be
contested for several weeks until a manual recount can take place,
with observers from both sides taking part and inspecting ballots.
This kind of detailed recount has not yet taken place.

According to the US Constitution and the Laws of Florida, it is
the responsibility of officials in Florida to certify the election
results. November 17 is the deadline for absentee ballots sent
from overseas to arrive. Since the election is close enough
in Florida, Oregon, and New Mexico to be affected by absentee
ballots, the results in those states cannot be certified before
that date.


2) Myth: the number of "spoiled ballots" in Palm Beach County was
typical. In a press briefing televised live on all networks
on 11/9/00, Karl Rove of the Bush campaign compared the 14,872
invalidated ballots in the 1996 Presidential race to 19,120
ballots for President that were spoiled in this election.

Fact: the Bush campaign was comparing apples and oranges. There
were actually 29,702 invalidated ballots this year in Palm Beach
County. This is almost twice the number in 1996. "19,120" refers
to only those 2000 ballots which were thrown out for voting for
two Presidential candidates. The remaining 10,582 ballots had no
choice recorded for President

According to the Palm Beach County elections office
(www.pbcelections.org), voters this year were not confused at
all by the rest of the ballot. For example, less than 1% of
U.S. Senate votes were invalidated because of multiple punches,
compared with over 4% in the Presidential contest.


3) Myth: The Palm Beach ballot is definitely illegal due to the
presence of punch holes to the left of some of the candidates.

Fact: According to the Secretary of State's office, there is a
loophole in Florida law that may allow ballots used for voting
machines to deviate from the rules governing paper ballots. This
view has been contested by hundreds of Florida voters. The final
decision on the legality of the ballot is likely to be made in
court, as long as this issue could have an effect on the election.

It is possible that the ballot could be ruled illegal on other
grounds, such as the Voting Accessibility for the Elderly and
Handicapped Act or the Americans With Disabilities Act.


4) Myth: "The more often ballots are recounted, especially by hand,
the more likely it is that human errors, like lost ballots and
other risks, will be introduced. This frustrates the very reason
why we have moved from hand counting to machine counting." --
Former Sec. of State James Baker, speaking on behalf of the
Bush campaign at a press briefing televised by all networks on
11/10/00.

Fact: In 1997, George W. Bush signed into law a bill stating that
hand recounts were the preferred method in a close election in
Texas. The bill, "HB 330", mandated that representatives of all
parties be present to prevent fraud.

Laws establishing rights and procedures for hand recounts also
exist in Florida (see Title IX, Chapter 102). In fact, the
Orlando Sentinel, (orlandosentinel.com) reported that a partial
hand count of Presidential ballots this year was ordered by
Republicans in Seminole County, where Bush led Gore. This count
took place on 11/9 and 11/10, widening Bush's lead by 98 votes.
The Bush campaign did not complain about this hand count; nor
did it complain about the hand count on 11/11/00 which put Bush
slightly ahead of Gore in New Mexico.

There do exist machine voting systems which are fairly accurate,
but antiquated punch card systems are notoriously inaccurate.
They were outlawed in Massachusetts in 1997 by Secretary of State
William Galvin after a Congressional primary that was also "too
close to call". The problem is that if the punched-out pieces
of cardboard are not completely removed from the punch card, they
can obstruct the card reader and the votes will not be counted.
A manual recount of such cards can clearly reveal the voter's
intentions.


5) Myth: The process is unfair because hand recounts were held only
in liberal areas of Florida, where Gore stands to pick up the most
votes.

Fact: It is true that a statewide recount would be more fair, and
the Bush campaign has every right to request one. According to
Florida law, hand recount requests must come from the campaigns,
not from the state. To fail to request what is commonly referred
to as a "defensive recount" in conservative areas of Florida, they
may be making a tactical blunder that will cost them the election.

It is also true that there were voting irregularities in the
counties where the Gore campaign requested recounts.


6) Myth: "Palm Beach County is a Pat Buchanan stronghold and that's
why Pat Buchanan received 3407 votes there. According to the
Florida Department of State, 16,695 voters in Palm Beach County
are registered to the Independent Party, the Reform Party, or
the American Reform Party, an increase of 110% since the 1996
presidential election" -- Ari Fleischer of the Bush Campaign,
11/9/00. The 2,000 votes received by the Reform party candidate
for Congress indicate that party's strength in Palm Beach County
(James Baker on Meet the Press, 11/12/00).

Fact: Of those 16,695 voters, only 337 (2 percent) are in the
Reform Party according to Florida state records. The Reform
party candidate for Congress, John McGuire, is connected to a
more centrist wing of the Reform Party, predating Buchanan's
involvement. An analysis of his support indicates that it came
largely from reform-minded Ralph Nader voters.

Regarding Buchanan's vote total, the Washington Post reported that
his vote percentage in Palm Beach county was four times as high at
the polls as in absentee voting. Even Buchanan himself admitted
on 11/8/00 on the Today Show that many of his votes actually
"belonged to Al Gore". So did his campaign manager, Bay Buchanan.


7) Myth: If Gore (or Bush) ends up winning the popular vote, he
really should win the election even if he loses Florida and other
states.

Fact: This is not the way the U.S. Constitution is written.
The Electoral College decision, imperfect as it may be, is the
only one that matters. It may be possible to reform or eliminate
the electoral college in the future, so that small states would
no longer receive extra electoral votes out of proportion to
their population. But until this change is made by Constitutional
amendment, the Electoral College is still the law of the land.


8) Myth: The Cook County, Illinois ballot from the home district of
Gore campaign chair Richard Daley is similar to the "butterfly"
ballot used in Palm Beach County (reported by Don Evans, 11/8/00)

Fact: According to the Chicago Daily Herald on 11/10/00, the
ballots in Chicago which had "facing pages" were referendum
questions which only had two punch holes, Yes and No.


9) Myth: The election process in Florida outside of Palm Beach County
was fair.

Fact: Actually, thousands of irregularities in over a half-dozen
categories have already been reported:

-Ballots ran out in certain precincts according to the LA Times
on 11/10/00.

-Carpools of African-American voters were stopped by police,
according to the Los Angeles Times (11/10/00). In some cases,
officers demanded to see a "taxi license".

-Polls closed with people still in line in Tampa, according to
the Associated Press.

-In Osceola County, ballots did not line up properly, possibly
causing Gore voters to have their ballots cast for Harry Browne.
Also, Hispanic voters were required to produce two forms of ID
when only one is required. (source: Associated Press)

-Dozens, and possibly hundreds, of voters in Broward County were
unable to vote because the Supervisor of Elections did not have
enough staff to verify changes of address.

-Voters were mistakenly removed from voter rolls because their
names were similar to those of ex-cons, according to Mother
Jones magazine.

-According to Reuters news service (11/8/00), many voters
received pencils rather than pens when they voted, in violation
of state law.

-According to the Miami Herald, many Haitian-American voters were
turned away from precincts where they were voting for the first
time (11/10/00)

-According to Feed Magazine (www.feedmag.com), the mayoral
candidate whose election in Miami was overturned due to voter
fraud, Xavier Suarez, said he was involved in preparing absentee
ballots for George W. Bush. (11/9/00)

-According to tompaine.com, CBS's Dan Rather reported a possible
computer error in Volusia County, Florida, where James Harris, a
Socialist Workers Party candidate, won 9,888 votes. He won 583
in the rest of the state. [11/9/00] County-level results for
Florida are available at cnn.com.

-Many African-American first-time voters who registered at motor
vehicles offices or in campus voter registration drives did not
appear on the voting rolls, according to a hearing conducted by
the NAACP and televised on C-SPAN on 11/12/00.


10) Myth: "No evidence of vote fraud, either in the original vote or
in the recount, has been presented." -- James Baker, representing
the Bush campaign on 11/10/00, in a Florida briefing.

Fact: The election was held just last week, so of course many
instances of fraud have not yet been substantiated. Even so,
authorities have already uncovered clear evidence of voter fraud
involving absentee ballots.

In Pensacola, Florida, Bush supporter Todd Vinson never received
the absentee ballot he requested. According to the Associated
Press on 11/9/00, it was determined after an investigation that
this ballot was received by a third party, filled out with a
forged signature, and then sent in. Assistant State Attorney
Russell Edgar, when asked if other absentee ballots might had been
intercepted, said, "I agree there may well be many more than just
this one".

Much media attention on the issue of voter fraud has been focused
on Wisconsin where cigarettes were offered to homeless people
who were casting absentee ballots, presumably for Gore. The
Gore campaign claims the cigarettes were not used to "buy" votes.
On Monday 10/13, the London Times reported a suspected pro-Bush
vote fraud operation in Miami involving over 10,000 ballots.


11) Myth: It is highly unusual for judges to intervene after an
election. Since the designer of a disputed ballot in Florida is
a member of the party contesting the election, a legal challenge
is impossible.

Fact: The most fundamental right of a democratic society is
the the right to vote, and to have one's vote correctly counted.
The legal system exists to ensure that people's rights are not
violated. Whether the person committing a violation is a Democrat
or a Republican does not affect how that violation should be
treated.

Elections are ultimately struggles for political power so it
should not be surprising that disputes are often resolved in
court. Of course judges can be biased. That is why they must
explain their decisions and why bad arguments can be overturned
on appeal.

The Florida Supreme Court ruled in 1998, in connection with a
disputed Volusia County election, that if there is "substantial
noncompliance" with election laws and a "reasonable doubt" about
whether election results "expressed the will of the voters" then
a judge must "void the contested election, even in the absence
of fraud or intentional wrongdoing." (source: Wall St. Journal,
10/10/00). The Journal indicated that there was little legal
precedent for a revote in just one area where an election
occurred. It would be more likely for a court to order a new
election or to overturn the result.

These issues have arisen in other states as well. In a
Massachusetts Democratic primary in 1996 for the US House, the
election was so close after recounts that a judge had to make
the final decision after examining some of the ballots that were
incompletely punched, to determine the intention of the voter.
The law clearly dictated that it was the will of the voter that
mattered, and the candidate who was behind, William Delahunt, went
on to win the final election. Call the Capitol Switchboard if you
have any doubts at 202-225-3121.


12) Myth: Richard Nixon's party in 1960 did the honorable thing in not
contesting the results of the election.

Fact: According to a column in the Los Angeles Times, 11/10/00,
"on Nov. 11, three days after the election, Thurston B. Morton,
a Kentucky senator and the Republican Party's national chairman,
launched bids for recounts or investigations in not just Illinois
and Texas but also Delaware, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri,
New Jersey, New Mexico, Nevada, Pennsylvania and South Carolina.
A few days later, Robert H. Finch and Leonard W. Hall, two
Nixon intimates, sent agents to conduct what they called "field
checks" in eight of those 11 battlegrounds. In New Jersey, local
Republicans obtained court orders for recounts; Texans brought
suit in federal court. Illinois witnessed the most vigorous
crusade. Nixon aide Peter Flanigan encouraged the creation
of a Chicago-area Nixon Recount Committee. As late as Nov. 23,
Republican National Committee general counsel H. Meade Alcorn
Jr. was still predicting Nixon would take Illinois." Recounts
continued into December, but did not succeed in overturning the
result of the election.


13) Myth: "Governor Bush is still the winner, subject only to counting
the overseas ballots, which traditionally have favored the
Republican candidates" -- James Baker, Press Briefing, 11/10/00

Fact: The number of yet-to-be-counted overseas military ballots
is likely to be in the range of 500 to 2000, based on the 1996
election in which there were 2,300 oversees absentee ballots
overall, with roughly 60% of them coming from people enlisted in
the military. According to CNN [11/10/00], the military overseas
ballots that arrived before the election were already counted.

The biggest difference from 1996 is that Clinton -- who avoided
the draft -- was running against Dole, a decorated military
veteran.

In 2000 George W. Bush -- who avoided service in Vietnam and
actually lost flying privileges in the Texas Air National Guard
-- is running against Al Gore, a veteran who served in Vietnam.

It is just as possible that Gore will gain a few hundred votes
from veterans as the other way around. It is also possible that
the Gore ticket will pick up votes from Democratic diplomatic
appointees, or temporary residents and dual citizens of Israel.


PLEASE HELP DISTRIBUTE THIS FLYER! We plan to make it easy for you
to obtain a paper copy for distribution at your workplace, church or
campus. If you post this on the web, please let us know! HTML and
printable (Word, PDF) versions will be available at:
http://dlis.gseis.ucla.edu/people/pagre/13-myths.html

Internet references sometimes change, so they will be updated at:
http://dlis.gseis.ucla.edu/people/pagre/myth-references.html

To participate in a student discussion, please send a blank email to:
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jms

(jmsatb5@aol.com)
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