If you've been following cnn.com, you may have noticed a small story about confusion over the ballot booklets in Palm Beach County, Florida. This is where I live.

I voted yesterday. They ARE confusing. I had to double-check my card. Basically, because of the way the presidential candidates were laid out, it was very possible to accidentally vote for Pat Buchanan instead of Al Gore.

However, I didn't realize until I started looking at the actual numbers by county just how screwed up it is. Below is a listing of adjacent counties, and then Palm Beach County's numbers. I used Harry Browne as a comparison.

Dade County:

Browne: 759
Buchanan: 561

Broward County:

Browne: 1212
Buchanan: 789

Martin County:

Browne: 105
Buchanan: 108

Palm Beach County:

Browne: 743
Buchanan: 3,407

This is SCREWED UP. Palm Beach County is a VERY Democratic county. There are many bible-thumping counties in North Florida; none of them even broke 1,000 Buchanan votes! I included Harry Browne because in almost every other county I've checked so far, he had more votes than Buchanan - except for Palm Beach County!

Think this is insignificant? This situation could be the deciding factor - if the election officials choose to acknowledge the problem.

Note: I got those figures from cnn.com itself. Those interested in further statistical analysis can also visit www.pbcelections.org.

I was just looking at Florida Election law (http://www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes), and it looks like the Palm Beach County ballots were illegal:

"The names of the candidates of the party which received the highest number of votes for Governor in the last election in which a Governor was elected shall be placed first under the heading for each office, together with an appropriate abbreviation of party name; the names of the candidates of the party which received the second highest vote for Governor shall be second under the heading for each office, together with an appropriate abbreviation of the party name."

Yes, it says Governor, but if you read the whole document you'll see that the last Governor election in Florida dictates the listing order of all candidates for the whole general election ballot. The problem is that on the Palm Beach County ballots, Bush was listed first, Buchanan second, and Gore third.

News agencies are aware of this. Gonna be interesting.

Another small update... From a statistical analysis at http://elections.fas.harvard.edu:

"Compared to all the 4,481 reporting districts (counties or townships) that cover 46 of the 50 United States, Palm Beach County is one of the five most irregular in terms of having exceptionally high support for Buchanan that deviates from expected patterns. Among districts with more than 25,000 voters, Palm Beach County is the most irregular."

The voters would really have to be pretty senile* not to be able to figure out eventually how the "butterfly ballot" works. At first look the ballot may seem new, but it has cleary marked arrows pointing to each of the punch holes for each candidate.

A picture of the ballot can be found currently at:

74 second graders were given a butterfly ballot with disney characters on them and told to vote for their favorite character. After the vote was taken, they checked to see if the children voted properly and all 74 voted properly.

* Exaggerated to make a point

liha: I read the article, and in Massachusetts they got rid of the ballot because the machine couldnt read the ballots properly because of the chads (pieces of paper still hanging on to the ballot, that shouldn't be there), not because of confusion in voting. CNN even said "In Florida, the problem with the butterfly is more complex and, to date, mainly has to do with ballot design and voter error."

And you're comparing the population of your county to the population of the state of Texas? There's a slight difference.

I heard about the test with the second graders, I must admit, on the Rush Limbaugh show. He is probably biased, but I do not believe him to be a liar. Especially on his show. I also admit, I do not have specifics on this test.
I received a message on my voicemail yesterday... "Hey liha, it's Bob! I missed you the other day when I was in town voting for Pat Buchanan..."hysterical laughter ensues followed by a hang up.

I live in Palm Beach County. And I am saddened by all the insults PBC has been getting due to the ballot screw-up. You see, the butterfly ballot is not as cut and dry as hackthemainframe says above. In 1996, the butterfly ballot was banned in Massachusetts due to complaints and a miscount. See the folowing article from CNN:

This makes me laugh. We aren't senile, Bob and I, we are not. And I don't think the rest of Palm Beach County is either. We've just made a mistake, we were fooled.

On a side note, seventy-five percent of the population in Palm Beach County voted. However, fifty percent of the population of Texas, Bush's home state, didn't even bother to go to the polls. I am proud of the amount of people in my county that voted, even if they were duped.
hackthemainframe: you are absolutely correct. I should NOT be comparing PB with Texas, my appologies. And I'd like to retract my statements on the percentage of voter turnouts. Seems I shouldn't trust in the evening news to give me correct information. However, your story about the children voting using the butterfly ballot as a comparison to PBC seems almost as implausible. Where is your proof of this test? Can the ballot be presented to see if it looked like the one PBC used? Surely the pictures present the possibility of a larger voting ballot and thus present more ease in punching the correct spot.

I would like to point out that only 3,407 people in PBC voted for Buchanan (states from cnn.com) out of the 430,000 people that did vote. Perhaps those 3,407 people are indeed senile as hackthemainframe said. 19,000 folks double punched, at least they realized their mistake, however, not doing anything about it is pretty stupid.
I won the Florida lottery! I'm now a multi-millionaire! Can you believe it?! I'm bouncing off the walls here! You see, my ticket doesn't have the exact winning numbers on it, but I meant to pick those winning numbers.

The ticket was very confusing when I was filling it out and so I ended up with the wrong numbers on my card. But since I really meant to pick those other numbers, they're going to give me the money anyway! They really shouldn't make those darn cards so hard to fill out! Even though I was confused, I didn't ask for help because no one would have helped me anyway.

I know the FL State Lottery will give me the money. If they don't I'll just sue them!

Source: http://www.jokeaday.com

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