Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Could it be 2000 again?

WE'VE MOVED! Democratic Convention Watch is now at

Many of us have a recurring nightmare that in some way includes something related to a hanging chad. And it appears that while the punch cards are gone, Palm Beach County may end up as election-disgrace-central again. If I could make stuff like this up, I'd be a novelist.

County Circuit Judge Richard Wennet faced a strong challenge from William Abramson, a local criminal lawyer, last month. When the ballots were counted, Abramson led by 17 votes out of more than 102,000.

An automatic recount was conducted, which put Wennet ahead by 60 votes. But this time, about 3,500 ballots were missing. The state elections board refused to accept the result.

Off to court they went. A state judge ordered another tally. No result was announced because, while the missing 3,500 votes were found in a warehouse, a fresh batch of 159 that were counted the first time could not be read.

Another machine recount was conducted Tuesday. It said Abramson won, but the machines kicked out 160 ballots they could not read. After those were counted by hand, the county canvassing board declared Abramson the winner. However, Wennet said he might continue the fight.

Then again, this might be the count related to the 3,500 ballots:

First, officials there appeared to lose 3,500 ballots from the Aug. 26 primary. On Friday, the county administrator's office said an audit has turned up 249 more ballots than initially reported.

The county has determined the initial problem was caused by workers mixing together ballots from different precincts. However, authorities are not sure where all the additional ballots discovered Friday came from.

159? 249? Early voting starts in Florida on 20 October.

And by the way, in lieu of the fill-in-the-circles all of us are used to from the days of SATs, Palm Beach County is using arrows. Why? You won't believe it. It's courtesy of the woman who brought you the butterfly ballot.

Here's what you have to do as a voter in Palm Beach County: