Friday, Theresa LePore, Supervisor of Elections
in Palm Beach, candidate for re-election as Supervisor
of Elections, chose to supervise her own election,
no one allowed. This Tuesday, Florida votes for
these nominally non-partisan posts.
remember Theresa, "Madame Butterfly," the one
whose ballots brought in the big vote for Pat
Buchanan in the Jewish precincts in November 2000.
Then she failed to do the hand count that would
have changed the White House from Blue to Red.
time, Theresa's in a hurry to get to the counting.
She began tallying absentee ballots on Friday
in her own re-election race. Not to worry: the
law requires the Supervisor of Elections in each
county to certify poll-watchers to observe the
Theresa has a better idea. She refused to certify
a single poll-watcher from opponents' organizations
despite the legal requirement she do so by last
week. She'll count her own votes herself, thank
you very much!
so far, she's doing quite well. Although 37,000
citizens have requested absentee ballots, she
says she'd only received 22,000 when she began
the count. Where are the others? Don't ask: though
she posts the names of requesters, she won't release
the list of those who have voted, an eyebrow-raising
deviation from standard procedure.
she has no intention of counting all the ballots
received. She has reserved for herself the right
to determine which ballots have acceptable signatures.
Her opponent, Democrat Art Anderson, had asked
Theresa to use certified hand-writing experts,
instead of her hand-picked hacks, to check the
while Federal law requires Theresa to allow a
voter to correct a signature rejection when registering,
the Feds don't require her to permit challenges
to absentee ballot rejections.
know what you're thinking. How could Madame Butterfly
know how people are voting? Well, she's printed
PARTY AFFILIATION on the OUTSIDE of each return
envelope. That certainly makes it easier to figure
out which ballot is valid, don't it?
dear Reader, please take note of the implications
of this story for the big vote in November. Millions
have sought refuge in absentee ballots as a method
to avoid the dangers of the digitizing of democracy.
Florida and other states are reporting 400%-plus
increases in absentee ballot requests due to fear
of the new computer voting machinery. Some refuge.
LePore is giving us an early taste of how the
Bush Leaguers intend to care for your absentee
there's no safety in the absentee ballot, how
about the computerized machines? The LePores of
America have that one figured out too.
Friday, the day on which Theresa began her Kremlim-style
vote count, the New York Times ran a puff piece
on Jeb's Palm Beach political pet. Cub reporter
Amy Goodnough derided fears of Democrats who painted
"dark scenarios" about the computer voting machines
Madame Butterfly installed over the objections
of the state's official voting technology task
you're wondering why the experts told her not
to use the machines, I'll tell you -- because
the New York Times won't. It's not because the
voting specialists are anti-technology Luddites.
The fact is that Florida counties using touch-screens
have reported a known error rate 600% greater
than the alternative, paper ballots read by optical
scanners. And those errors have occurred -- surprise!
-- overwhelmingly in African-American precincts.
Brother Jeb has teamed with LePore to keep the
vote clean and white. Together they have refused
the Democrats request for the more-reliable paper
ballots as an option for voters.
Leon County, by contrast, Elections Supervisor
Ion Sancho insisted on paper ballots and did not
lose a single vote to error in the March presidential
primary. Sancho told me it's a slam-dunk certainty
that the computer screens will snatch away several
thousand Palm Beach votes.
and the Jebster have been quite close since LePore
came out of the closet. The Republican-turned-Democrat,
nominally independent, this year accepted the
sticky embrace of the Republican Party. One really
has to wonder if she ever truly left the Blues
in the first place.
a shame that Supervisor LePore was too busy counting
her votes and rejecting ballots to respond to
my phone calls. I wanted to be the first to congratulate
her on her election victory -- two days before
the election. Or maybe she fears I might be the
early birddog who catches the butterfly as she
turns back into a worm.
Greg Palast is the author of the New York Times
bestseller, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy.
His article on vote manipulation in Florida for
Harper's Magazine, was nominated for a 2002 National
Posted: August 30, 2004