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October 18, 2004
Early Voting In Florida Results In Early Griping

Florida introduced early voting in this election in order to ensure that as many voters as possible have a chance to participate. Predictably, the first fruits of that effort have been to generate early complaints about the ballots:

With memories of 2000 and the state's bitter fight over ballots still fresh, Floridians began casting votes Monday and within an hour problems cropped up.

In Palm Beach County, the center of the madness during the recount four years ago, a Democratic state legislator said she wasn't given a complete absentee ballot when she asked to opt for paper instead of the electronic touch-screen machines. And in Orange County, the touch-screen system briefly crashed, paralyzing voting in Orlando and its immediate suburbs. ...

State Rep. Shelley Vana was not so happy. She said the paper absentee ballot she was given at a Palm Beach County site was missing one of its two pages, including the proposed amendments to the state constitution. She said election workers were indifferent when she pointed out the oversight.

"There was absolutely no concern on the part of the folks at the Supervisor of Elections Office that this page was missing. This is not a good start. If there are incomplete ballots out there, I can't imagine I would be the only one getting it," she said.

The Supervisor of Elections for this term is Theresa LePore, who gave the county and the world the infamous "butterfly ballot," and who lost her bid for re-election this year as a result. (Her term expires in January.) LePore could not be reached for comment, but it should be noted that LePore, like 23 of 24 elections supervisors in contested counties from 2000, is a Democrat, not a Republican; if Vana wants to complain about disenfranchisement, let's make sure we know who's responsible for it.

My question is why we allow early in-person voting for the Presidential race. Election Day is fixed by the US Constitution, and it seems to me that the attempt by Florida and a handful of other states to dilute that should be challenged. Part of exercising the franchise is having the commitment to do so, and if that particular day doesn't work out, then filing an absentee ballot is a reasonable alternative. Opening and closing precincts in the two weeks prior to Election Day sounds like a recipe for bigger problems and more litigation after November 2nd.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at October 18, 2004 12:08 PM

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