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Monday, August 16

Connecting Dots in Florida

First this from Jeb Bush on Touch Screen Voting:
Gov. Jeb Bush on Friday defended the touch-screen machines, noting they've been in use since the 2002 election.

"They're not new; they've been used already and they've been used correctly," he said. "Miami-Dade County purchased these machines, there is a flaw in the auditing related to it, a minor flaw that has only occurred once. They have the obligation to fix that up and they will. I have total confidence in Miami-Dade County's ability to carry out this election."

The governor suggested Democrats are seeking to energize their core voters by raising questions about the accuracy of the voting machines. The Kerry campaign on Thursday said it has hired a Miami lawyer with experience from the 2000 disputed presidential election to monitor voting irregularities.

"Every time that liberal Democrats say that the election is in question, every vote should count, it is an effort to try to mobilize their base and that's it," Bush said. "And it should be discounted, deeply, because it is purely politics."

Purely politics indeed from the Florida GOP:
While Gov. Jeb Bush reassures Floridians that touch screen voting machines are reliable, the Republican Party is sending the opposite message to some voters.

The GOP urged some Miami voters to use absentee ballots because touch screens lack a paper trail and cannot "verify your vote."

That's the same argument Democrats have made but which Bush, his elections director and Republican legislators have repeatedly rejected.

"The liberal Democrats have already begun their attacks and the new electronic voting machines do not have a paper ballot to verify your vote in case of a recount," says a glossy mailer, paid for by the Republican Party of Florida and prominently featuring two pictures of President Bush. "Make sure your vote counts. Order your absentee ballot today."

The GOP tactic is the reverse of what Bush and state elections experts have said as they have repeatedly opposed Democratic moves, in the Legislature and courts, to require a paper trail on the machines.

But let's investigate elderly black voters who use absentee ballots by Florida Department of Law Enforcement, which reports to Gov. Jeb Bush (NY Times):
The big story out of Florida over the weekend was the tragic devastation caused by Hurricane Charley. But there's another story from Florida that deserves our attention.

State police officers have gone into the homes of elderly black voters in Orlando and interrogated them as part of an odd "investigation" that has frightened many voters, intimidated elderly volunteers and thrown a chill over efforts to get out the black vote in November.

The officers, from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, which reports to Gov. Jeb Bush, say they are investigating allegations of voter fraud that came up during the Orlando mayoral election in March.

Officials refused to discuss details of the investigation, other than to say that absentee ballots are involved. They said they had no idea when the investigation might end, and acknowledged that it may continue right through the presidential election.

"We did a preliminary inquiry into those allegations and then we concluded that there was enough evidence to follow through with a full criminal investigation," said Geo Morales, a spokesman for the Department of Law Enforcement.

The state police officers, armed and in plain clothes, have questioned dozens of voters in their homes. Some of those questioned have been volunteers in get-out-the-vote campaigns.

I asked Mr. Morales in a telephone conversation to tell me what criminal activity had taken place.

"I can't talk about that," he said.

I asked if all the people interrogated were black.

"Well, mainly it was a black neighborhood we were looking at - yes,'' he said.

He also said, "Most of them were elderly."

When I asked why, he said, "That's just the people we selected out of a random sample to interview."


The long and ugly tradition of suppressing the black vote is alive and thriving in the Sunshine State.

Aha! Here's why:
President Bush's prospects in Florida are looking increasingly shaky.

Barely 80 days before election day, signs abound that Democrats are outperforming Republicans in the state Bush virtually has to win to gain another term in the White House.

Republicans had vowed an unprecedented voter registration program, but Democrats are far outpacing them in registration gains.

Democrats have far more operatives on the ground, thanks largely to well-funded liberal organizations aggressively working to mobilize John Kerry supporters.

The past two statewide polls show the Massachusetts senator leading by 6 or 7 percentage points, and, along with other recent polls, point to a number of other ominous signs for the president.

Though the Bush-Cheney campaign boasts an unprecedented grass-roots effort, some Republicans are quietly fretting. Not only does Bush look vulnerable in must-win Florida, they say, at the very least he could be forced to divert resources here that may be needed elsewhere.

"Not only is Florida becoming a problem for the campaign but it could make some Southern border states that are usually safely Republican slip into competitive mode in the last two to three weeks of the campaign," said InsiderAdvantage pollster Matt Towery, a former strategist for Newt Gingrich. "If Bush loses Florida, it's lights out."

Should Florida's 27 electoral votes move to the Democratic column, the electoral math would look bleak for Bush. He would have to win several states he lost in 2000..." (St Petersburg Times)

UPDATE AUGUST 17, 2004 from the Banana Republican Files by way of the NY Times: Paul Krugman:
"It's horrifying to think that the credibility of our democracy - a democracy bought through the courage and sacrifice of many brave men and women - is now in danger. It's so horrifying that many prefer not to think about it. But closing our eyes won't make the threat go away. On the contrary, denial will only increase the chances of a disastrously suspect election."

More on how Bush stole the election by way of Florida.

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