Florida Absentee Ballot Snafu


WASHINGTON, NOVEMBER 9—Monte Friedkin, chairman of the Palm Beach County Democratic party, said this afternoon that the state elections officials had not picked up at least 500 absentee ballots from the post office on election day. The ballots had been sent well before November 7 and should have been counted on Tuesday.

Election officials said they will try to have the 500 ballots invalidated. Friedkin added that the ballot as printed in Florida for the presidential election is invalid because it does not adhere to specifications set forth under the law.

Meanwhile, a Palm Beach citizens’ lawsuit has been withdrawn from federal court, and will be combined with state suits sometime next week. A federal district court judge had been set to hear Palm Beach citizens’ voter complaints this afternoon.

The citizens say a confusing ballot in their county caused them to vote for Reform candidate Pat Buchanan when they intended to support Democrat Al Gore. Palm Beach is a heavily Democratic area, yet Buchanan drew over 3000 votes, far more than expected.

Based on prior precedent in Florida, this judge can order a statistical analysis of voting in a district and then adjust the vote accordingly. With the race between Gore and Republican George W. Bush now down to a few hundred votes, any shift in the Palm Beach polling could be crucial.

Meanwhile, the state’s new voting irregularity hotline, run by the Democratic Party, has received 5000 calls from people who say they were misled in the balloting. The hotline number is 1-800-579-8871.