An examination of all 175,010 uncounted ballots from Florida’s disputed 2000 presidential election revealed that Democrat Al Gore could have eked out a victory over George W. Bush, though he would have won by a razor-thin 171 votes out of more than six million ballots cast in the state.
However, according to the study contracted by a consortium of eight news organizations, if the U.S. Supreme Court had upheld the Florida Supreme Court and permitted the recount to proceed in the four counties Bush would have won by a razor thin margin.
Even if Gore had prevailed in his lawsuit seeking a recount in four predominantly Democratic counties, Bush would still have won, according to the results of the review released Nov. 12. Gore, the report argued, undermined his own cause by failing to pursue his public demand that the election boards “count all the votes.”
The report also pointed to the role of racism in the election’s outcome. The project revealed that voters in majority-Black precincts were three times more likely than whites to have their ballots rejected, voters in majority-Latino precincts twice as likely. Those in majority-elderly precincts were also more likely to have their ballots rejected.
However, the media group did not address the issue of more than 86,000 names purged from the voting rolls, often on the basis of fraudulent claims that they were “former felons.” But the U.S. Civil Rights Commission (CRC) in a report released last spring blasted this vote purging operation as a violation of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
In a report of vote reform recommendations released Nov. 9, the CRC said that former felons who have served their prison sentences should have their right to vote restored.
In addition, “provisional ballots” should be provided to everyone, even if their eligibility is questioned at the polls. Rules should be established governing “state efforts to purge voters from the voting rolls,” the report concluded.
In the report, CRC Chairperson Mary Frances Berry said that “in this time of national security crisis … it is even more urgent that we ensure the integrity of our democracy.” It is necessary to make sure that elections are fair and everyone who is eligible has a chance to vote, Berry said, “Otherwise we undermine the basic premises on which we fight this battle against terrorism.”
Citing the crazy-quilt of local and state election procedures, the report argues that Federal mandates are “absolutely necessary” to protect the right of every voter. It urged that the federal government establish guidelines on the training of state and local election officials and provide adequate resources to ensure that these election officials are properly trained and “that all voters have an equal opportunity to vote and have their vote counted.”