Ballot chaos reigns in Florida

By Geraldine Sealey
September 15, 2004 7:39PM (UTC)
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A Miami Herald piece today shows how a Monday ruling by Jeb Bush's state elections officer Glenda Hood that put Ralph Nader on the ballot despite a judge's earlier ruling to the contrary has led to chaos and confusion among local supervisors about whether Nader is actually on the ballot -- as absentee ballots are being printed, some with Nader, some without.

"In Okaloosa County, elections officials finalized their ballot Saturday and, after consulting with Hood's office, decided to leave Nader's name off. They worked through the night and got the ballot to the printer by Sunday, before Hood changed course.

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"On Tuesday, when the rest of the county was preparing for Hurricane Ivan, Supervisor of Elections Pat Hollarn was worrying about the absentee ballots. They were supposed to arrive before the storm re-routed all flights into the Fort Walton Beach airport.

'''It looks like I will drive to Tallahassee tomorrow, and get them and bring them back in my van,' said Hollarn, whose county is home to military personnel in every branch of the armed services.

"Hollarn said her trip across the Panhandle through a tropical storm wouldn't have been necessary had the state Division of Elections decided sooner how it wanted county officials to handle the election ballot after Nader was removed.

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"She stuck by her decision to leave Nadar (sic) off, however. After reading the ruling and the lawsuit, she concluded: 'There is no justifiable reason' the third-party candidate should be on the ballot.

"In Duval County, with more than 2,000 requests for absentee ballots from overseas military personnel, local officials have decided to print two ballots, said Dick Carlberg, chief elections assistant.

"The first ballot that goes out this week will include Nader's name and be considered temporary, he said. It will be followed by a second ballot with the names of the candidates after the court rules. If Nader is ruled off the ballot and a voter fails to send the second ballot back 'he'll lose his vote,' Carlberg said."

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Leave it to Florida to find creative new ways to disenfranchise voters.


Geraldine Sealey

Geraldine Sealey is senior news editor at Salon.com.

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