... While some of these problems have become well known, it is important to note that it wasn't flawed technology in Florida that kept Democrat Al Gore from the White House. More pivotal to the vote count were partisan decisions by then Secretary of State, Katherine Harris, a Republican, who allowed overseas ballots - allegedly from the military - to be counted, even though many lacked postmarks and those were suspected to be fraudulent. Amid that controversy the Supreme Court intervened, stopping the recount and declaring George W. Bush the winner.
'Florida was a great case of our eyes being off the target,' Campbell said. 'We were looking at butterfly ballots (punch cards). But it was the absentee ballots that came in after the election that Katherine Harris certified that gave the election to George W. Bush. I bet plenty of grieving military families don't realize it was absentee ballots that brought us the war in Iraq.'
In short, political manipulation of the process - on top of flawed election machinery - was the determining factor in Florida's presidential election in 2000, and for that matter in Ohio in 2004, in Illinois in 1960, and in other earlier presidential elections. ...
In more than two centuries of American elections, Gumbel said politicians and the public have often been swayed by arguments that technical improvements in election machinery would bring clearer and fairer elections. "There has been an illusion that if you fix the technology, the rest will be fine," he said. "In the book, I repeatedly show that when the stakes are high, and one party can do things, things will happen."
As Republican Rep. Peter King, R-NY, famously told filmmaker Alexandra Pelosi a year before George W. Bush defeated John Kerry in 2004, "It's all over but the counting, and we'll take care of the counting."
Tuesday, June 5, 2007