News Release

Voter Rights: Will Florida Be the Next Florida?

The New York Times reported Wednesday that “almost all the electronic records from the first widespread use of touch-screen voting in Miami-Dade County have been lost…” [www.nytimes.com/2004/07/28/politics/campaign/28vote.final.html]

HOWARD SIMON, [via Alessandra Soler Meetze]
In April 2003, a state administrative rule was issued in Florida, prohibiting manual recounts on the computerized voting machines in cases of a close election. Howard Simon, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida, which has joined other Florida groups in challenging the ruling in court, said today: “No one can argue that touch-screen voting machines are going to work 100 percent of the time. The experience of Miami-Dade County alone shows that they’re subject to all kinds of errors. That’s precisely why we must have a mechanism in place to re-count all of the votes in close elections.”
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ALMA GONZALEZ
DOUG MARTIN
Alma Gonzalez is spokeswoman for the Voter Protection Coalition in Florida and special counsel to the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. Doug Martin is communications director for AFSCME Council 79. Gonzalez said today: “Florida Department of Law Enforcement agents showed up at the homes of absentee voters, many of whom were minorities, and asked them if they had really voted, if they had actually sold their votes, and otherwise questioned them in an unfriendly manner while revealing their sidearms. This is unacceptable…. You can’t do that to old black people who fought hard for the right to vote and, in fact, have seen law enforcement utilized in this kind of intimidating and harassing way through the civil rights movement. We are asking the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights to conduct a formal investigation.”
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GREG PALAST
Palast is author of the New York Times best-selling book The Best Democracy Money Can Buy, an expanded election edition of which has just been released. Greg Palast joined Michael Moore, Rep. Corrine Brown (D-Jacksonville) and Rep. Peter Deutsch (D-Ft. Lauderdale) in a press conference and urged lawmakers and the public to take action in order to ensure fair and representative elections. Palast had first uncovered in 2000 that tens of thousand of black citizens were wrongly removed from voter rolls in Florida. He said today: “Once again, in 2004, the same tricks that were used to eliminate legal black Democratic voters in 2000 have returned with a vengeance. While the state of Florida tells reporters they are not using these corrupted ‘felon’ lists to eliminate voters, in fact they are, throughout the Republican counties. This is one more indication that not only in Florida, but in all of America, we have apartheid voting systems where many African-American voters are wrongly stopped from voting; or if they vote, their votes are lost, voided or eliminated. According to data from the U.S. Civil Rights Commission and the Harvard University Law School Civil Rights Project, about half the nation’s ‘spoil ballots’ — 1 million — were cast by black folk. (“Spoil” is the technical term for votes cast but not counted because they were voided.) The study found that it was 50 percent more likely for a black vote to be ‘spoiled’ than a white vote. In Florida, the U.S. Civil Rights Commission found that a black vote was nearly 10 times as likely as a white vote to be rejected. In the 2000 race, 95,000 African-American votes were dumped in the Florida swamps, marked as spoiled. While the Democratic Party has finally discovered that 1 million black votes are lost in each election year, the question remains whether they will actually do something to protect black voters, or as in prior years, shrink away, fearful of alienating white voters.”
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020