Al's ballot blues

By Eric Boehlert

By Letters to the Editor

Published November 20, 2000 8:26AM (EST)

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Eric Boehlert's article on the effects of the inclusion of more third-party candidates on the Florida ballot is absurd. To argue that voters' minds are only capable of absorbing two names on a ballot and no more is downright insulting. Let's not make such pathetic excuses for Gore. He was obviously incapable of defeating Bush, a blundering fool who didn't even know the names of major world leaders while campaigning for president! Only Gore can take the fall for such a lame show against an even lamer opponent.

-- Daniel Gritzer

To say that the trouble with the Florida vote is Revision 11 is like saying the trouble with U.S.-Cuba relations is Elián Gonzáles. The actual problem is antiquated voting technology. Revision 11 discovered this problem, so to speak, by tripping over it in the dark. The third-party movement, perhaps bruised, can get back on its feet; the tragicomic punch-card ballot cannot.

-- Benjamin Monreal

Eric Boehlert's article reminded me of a trip I made to a local supermarket with a Russian in the early '90s. She found the many competing brands and the choice they represented to be confusing and said she would prefer just one to choose from -- you know, the sole inferior product that the government produces. For Boehlert to complain that the inclusion of additional choices via Reform, Libertarian and Green candidates, etc. was bad because it cost Gore the election is simply the most absurd thing I have read during this election cycle -- and that's saying something.

In fact, our pluralistic society's No. 1 complaint at election time is that there is a lack of choices and good candidates.

-- Timothy Cain

In 1996, nobody knew Nader was running. In 2000, we did. That right there at least in part explains the disparity in voting numbers.

I have no doubt that the other third parties -- the Constitution Party, the Workers World Party and so on -- gained substantial additional votes just by being on the ballot. I also know that most Floridians were pleased by the addition of the names. "It makes you feel like you really have a choice, you know," said my office manager (who still punched a hole for Gore).

Otherwise, I really enjoyed the article. Thanks.

-- Christine Gregory

Thanks, Eric Boehlert, for the first enlightening words I have read on the subject of how the machines work and what might have happened in the counties that threw out so many votes. Isn't it possible to rig these machines so they will not work properly? So that they will double-punch or underpunch, for example? Since the Bush people control the Board of Elections and had total control of the machines prior to and for a period of time after the elections, they had plenty of opportunity to rig machines that were going to heavily Democratic counties. I realize the whole thing is being heavily hyped as a result of stupidity, but hey, you can look up statistics on how these areas customarily vote; maybe they are not as dumb as they have been presented in the media.

In Jesse Helms' last Senate campaign in Durham, N.C., in the most heavily Democratic precincts in the state, none of the voting machines worked on Election Day. They worked everywhere else in the state, but not in Durham! The Republican Board of Elections finally got some paper ballots over to Durham late in the day, and people were still standing in long lines late in the evening when they closed the polls. So far, the best-kept secret of this election is how easy it is to screw up the voting machines if you own the Board of Elections.

-- Ruth Ann Rooks

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2000 Elections Al Gore