The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #27796   Message #342409
Posted By: GUEST,Frankham
17-Nov-00 - 11:44 AM
Thread Name: Ballotgate in Florida
Subject: Ballotgate in Florida
Forwarded to me by a friend who has friends in Florida. -------------------------

Subject: Tate Nov. 13 Rabbi's report on voting in Florida

Here is my own sworn testimony to the DNC -- Rabbi Richard Yellin.

I came to my voting precinct at the St. Thomas More Church in Boynton Beach, Palm Beach County, Florida, at 6 30 am on Election day 2000. I was fifth in line waiting for the precinct to open. By the time it opened, about 30 people had already lined up, and by the time I exited from the poll at 7:15, 100+ individuals were waiting to enter a very crowded precinct area. I was fully prepared to vote my choices with my own pre-prepared list of candidate selections and referendum choices. I came early to vote because I had to be at my Synagogue, by 8 am to speak at a morning religious service.

When I entered the precinct I signed the voter register and received the "computerized ballot." I went to a cubicle on a desk that had a "votamatic" platform which had a "butterfly brochure" fixed on the platform, with pages of the brochure to be turned sequentially so that candidates and referendum questions could be "hole punched," i.e., voted for. I followed the instructions placing the ballot into the slot so that it could be properly fixed and aligned under the "butterfly" so that the holes on the "butterfly" lined up over the computerized "ballot."

At that point I started the voting process. I wanted to vote for Gore/Lieberman. I searched for the Gore "butterfly hole" and could not find it!! The arrows to the right of the candidate's name, pointing to the proper "butterfly hole" did not align properly !! I struggled to find the appropriate place for my vote, and tried to figure out which one it was by looking at the Bush "hole" and the others on the page. By a process of elimination, I chose the hole I thought was for Gore and Lieberman. I took 3-4 minutes to do this. It made me feel rather stupid, so I hid my stupidity, figuring that I voted my choice. I went on to all the other candidates on the next pages of the "butterfly" and the alignments to the proper holes were arranged neatly and to perfection, and I was out of the little cubicle (which was not very private in the least!), and I took out my "ballot from the "butterfly" and placed it in the ballot box upon leaving.

As I left I heard 2-5 people complaining that it was difficult to vote for President and V.P. I did not have time to consult with these individuals because I had my appointments. As I drove away, I had a gnawing feeling that something was not right, with the blame on me. I had a sample mock "butterfly" that was mailed out before the election, and I looked at it briefly while driving and I saw that it did not look anything like the "butterfly" that was attached to the "votamatic." At which point I dismissed the experience and went about driving.

At 7:45 am, when I came to my synagogue, (of which I am the Rabbi and Spiritual Leader), Temple Emeth of Delray Beach, a 2800 member congregation of retired senior citizens, our parking lot was a beehive of activity. A voting precinct is housed in our facility's auditorium, and it had lines waiting to go into vote. I went into my office to prepare my sermon and at 8:10 I went out of my office passing the voting precinct waving to many voters whom I knew. I rushed past the auditorium and went into the Chapel and began the service with a sermonette on the subject of voting and religious freedom. I told my prayers that in order to be religious, they had to vote, because political freedom is the guarantor of religious freedom. At exactly 8:20 am my speech was interrupted by a synagogue Staff member who said to me in front of the 60 people in the chapel, "There is a problem in the precinct," and he summoned me to the precinct. My 7:15 emotions began to gnaw at me again.

I entered the precinct ahead of the lines and I was told by several people leaving that they had trouble voting their choice for President. In fact one person was crying that she thought she had mistakenly voted for Buchanan.

I summoned the supervisor of the precinct housed in our facility and I asked her to get the butterfly ballot from one of the "votamatics" and to look at it together with me. Two or three other people gather around, and it was the identical "butterfly" that I had used at the Church. I said to the supervisor that the arrows are completely misaligned with the holes and therefore the ballots could not be punched, expressing with certainty the intent of the voter. She agreed, and I asked her to interrupt the voting in the precinct and I told her that the precinct should be closed until an announcement was made to all those voting, that 'the "butterfly brochure" was problematic, and that people should exercise great care.'

I said to her that the supervisor of elections in Palm Beach and in Florida should be called immediately. She agreed. The phone lines to the election board were busy. She made the announcements, and I went to call all the media outlets in the area -- 3 TV stations and the radio station of record.

At which point, I felt I did my duty and I went into the synagogue office and began listening to people exiting from the precinct who complained that it was an impossible experience, and how they think they voted for Buchanan by mistake because of the "butterfly." At that point, I too put 2 and 2 together and I think I may have voted for Buchanan, a vote that would be anathema to my whole political disposition.

By 9:15 I had meetings in my office and duties to attend to, and thought that others had been sufficiently apprised of the situation and that it was in hand. Wrong, by mid day all hell broke loose in the media. Addenda: On Friday night November 10, I had planned to speak about Kritallnacht, the Rabin Assassination, and Veterans Day. Instead, before 500 people I asked them to shared their voting experience during election day. Several people got up to speak and told their stories that they had trouble with the "butterfly" in trying to vote for Gore, and they think they voted for Buchanan. (It is important to know that my congregation has well over 100 holocaust survivors, and no one would have knowingly voted for Buchanan. I took a referendum on that!)

At which point several people in the congregation began to laugh at those who expressed a problem with the vote! I asked those who were laughing to explain their lamentable public ridicule. They said they voted, and it was a piece of cake. I then asked them to explain why it was easy for them. They said their "butterfly" was lined up correctly and all they had to do was follow the arrows for the candidates and punch the holes.

In response, those who had the problem, said publicly that they had a DIFFERENT LOOKING "BUTTERFLY" AND THE ARROWS WERE MISPRINTED. I then took a tabulation. "If you thought the votamatic was easy to use, raise your hands." 50% raised their hands. Then: "If you were troubled by the vote and think you may have voted incorrectly for Gore because of your "butterfly", raise your hands." 30% raised their hands. 20% were unsure.

The conclusion of this "Town Hall" sermonic discussion!? There were two different versions of the "butterfly" or maybe even a partial misprint of the butterflies used by many voters in various precincts of Palm Beach County.

I tried the same experiment on Saturday morning to an even larger crowd, dispensing with the planned sermon, asking people to share their voting experiences. The Saturday morning congregation is made up of different people than the Friday night congregation. To my amazement the same thing happened again. People laughed, and slowly they came to the realization that there were 2 different versions to the "butterfly." The tabulation was virtually the same as the previous night.

Conclusion: The real problem is the "butterfly" brochure. There were misprints in the alignment of arrows and holes, and there were bad "butterflies" hovering within and mingling with normal "butterflies," and the way you could predict who received infected misprinted "butterflies," was to scan the precincts where Buchanan received greater numbers of votes than expected compared to all the other 50+ counties in Florida.

It just so happens that the Buchanan factor surfaced most within Jewish and Afro-American areas and precincts. As an Afro-American pastor friend of mine said, "there is no one in his congregation who would for a moment think of voting for Pat Buchanan." Buchanan subsequently went on air saying he knew that these exaggerated votes, close to 3500 in Palm Beach County, "should not have gone to him."

The real question for these 3500 suspected votes: Why doesn't the government impound all the "butterflies" and search for the misprinted ones.

The media is totally confused by this, and it is no wonder that the former Secretary of State, The Honorable James Baker, could hold up a normal "butterfly," and unconscionably imply, that elderly, Jewish, Afro-Ameircans, and Palm Beach County citizens, were "confused" (mplying 'stupid'). Mr. Baker, in this case, was really "holier than thou", meaning, of course Bush voters were not confused because their candidate was the first on the list, and you could not mistake punching the Bush "butterfly" hole because it was at the top of the column of holes, i.e., "holier than thou."

I do not believe in conspiracies! I am a registered independent voter who learned as a child: "It is not who won or lost, but how we played the game." In this election, the voting machinery was flawed, not the electorate!