The Nossiter Net
The net that shall enmesh them all
Edited, Written, and Published by J.C. Nossiter
The Morning Mendacity
Wednesday, August 18th, 2004
The Nossiter Net is cast  to snare some of  the riper rascalities of the day.  Comments?  editor@nossiter.net
It’s worth recalling that George W. Bush “won” the state of Florida in the 2000 election by a margin of 537 votes.  It’s also necessary to put “won” in quotations.   A consortium of news organizations, including the New York Times and the Washington Post, paid for a recount of the entire state’s ballots, not merely the selected counties recounted by the Democrats in 2000, and concluded that Gore was the probable winner.

The Florida election of 2000 was not just flawed but broken, and nothing that has taken place since inspires any confidence that the 2004 election will be any better.

Item:  The State of Florida has made two attempts to produce lists of alleged felons whose names are to be struck off the voter rolls.  Both lists consist almost entirely African-Americans, most of whom are not felons.

Item:  Florida has adopted wholesale touchscreen voting machines – the kind that don’t give a receipt.  The nation’s largest manufacturer of electronic voting machines, Diebold Corp., is headed by a CEO who in the 2002 midterm election promised to deliver his own state to George W. Bush.

Item:  A Florida State Court dismissed a lawsuit demanding that electronic voting machines produce paper trails, on the grounds that the law doesn’t guarantee the voter a perfect election.

Item:  Bob Herbert in yesterday’s NYT reports that law enforcement and electoral officials are going door to door in selected Florida neighborhoods with the apparent purpose of intimidating African-American volunteers working on get-out-the-vote drives.

In 2002 Mr. Bush signed into law the Help America Vote Act (http://www.fec.gov/hava/hava.htm), under pressure to reform the electoral system in places like Florida.  It’s doubtful that the new law is going to do anything to mend matters.  The meat of the legislation is in Section 209, which reads in part “The Commission shall not have any authority to issue any rule,
promulgate any regulation, or take any other action which imposes any requirement on any State” except as allowed by Section 9a of the Voter Registration Act of 1993 (http://www.fvap.gov/nvra/nvra.html).

Section 9a of the NVRA tells us that the Federal Government can’t impose any new election rules without consultation with the local authorities. 

And so we are back to where we were, with Florida election officials essentially free to muddle, or fiddle, the voting results as they choose.  This time, the scrutiny of the world will be on them.  Will that be enough to guarantee a fair election?  Former President Carter’s Carter Center monitors the honesty of voting all over the world;  now that they’ve finished in Venezuela, it’s time to book them for Florida in November.

©J.C. Nossiter 2004
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