The allegedly confusing ballot
winkler at UCLA.EDU
Wed Nov 8 17:13:16 PST 2000
Eugene is correct; this provision of Florida law is not the whole
story. The statute cited in the story and in Howard Gillman's
posting applies to written ballots, whereas the ballots in question
were machine ballots. (Hence, voters cast their ballots by punching
holes in the form.) The machine ballot provision is Fla. Stat. sect.
101.27 (3) (2000), which has at least a bit more wiggle room, but a
good argument can still be made that the ballots were illegal under
Florida law. Section 101.27(3) provides : "The order in which the
voting machine ballot is arranged shall as nearly as practicable
conform to the requirements of the form of the paper ballot for that
> Forgive me, but if this is the relevant statute, then
>wouldn't all punch-out-the-box ballots be illegal? After all, no
>matter how you format the ballot, the voters wouldn't be "placing a
>cross (X) mark" in the relevant space when they punch out the little
>hole, no? Could the modern statute be somewhat different, or am I
>missing something here?
>Howard Gillman writes:
>Let's not go to confusing. Let's go to just illegal under Florida
>law. See below.
>(The general link I have to AP is
>don't know if this story is still there.)
>Palm Beach ballot illegal, Demo lawyers say
> By KARIN MEADOWS
> Associated Press Writer
> WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- (AP) -- Lawyers for the Democratic Party say a
> two-page ballot listing presidential candidates on different lines is
> state law and they may ask for a revote in Palm Beach County.
> The ballots would have to be challenged in court. As of late Wednesday
> afternoon, no lawsuit had been filed. A call to the Democratic National
> in Washington, D.C. was not immediately returned Wednesday.
> Buchanan walked away with 3,704 votes in the county, a much larger
> of votes compared to other Florida counties and more than enough to put
> Gore or Bush over the top in a presidential race that has yet to be called.
> ``I think I voted mistakenly for Buchanan because his dot appeared between
> Bush's and Gore's,'' said 76-year-old Stanley Haber of Boca Raton, who went
> Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections offices Wednesday morning to
> complain. ``I think there should be a totally new vote.''
> County election officials whose telephones were jammed with calls from
> upset about the punch mark ballots on Tuesday and Wednesday said there's no
> remedy to the possibly miscast ballots. Once placed in the ballot box,
> turning back.
> ``They should be checking it before they drop it in the ballot box,'' said
> Beach County Supervisor of Elections Theresa LePore, a Democrat. ``It is a
> secret ballot. There's no way to go back and determine who cast the
> Dozens of politicians, lawyers and voters gathered Wednesday morning at the
> Palm Beach elections office awaiting a re-count of the votes and debating
> the Tuesday's ballot was legal or not.
> Outside, about 50 outraged citizens carried signs protesting the ballots.
> Florida law specifies that voters mark an X in the blank space to the right
> name of the candidate they want to vote for. On the Palm Beach County
> presidential ballot, six candidates were listed on one page facing a
>listing of four
> candidates on another page.
> Buchanan's name was listed first on the right page, opposite and between
> and Gore's names. Although Gore's name was listed second on the first page,
> voters had to punch the third whole in a middle column to cast a ballot for
> Lawyer Jeff Liggio, a lawyer for county Democrats, called the ballot
> ``Right means right, doesn't it? The state law says right, it doesn't mean
> Liggio, one of several lawyers representing the Democratic Party.
> Clay Roberts, director of the State Division of Elections, said Wednesday
> ballot complied with state statutes. Both the Republican and Democratic
> approved the ballot before the election.
> A former head of the Federal Elections Commission said if state law says
> candidates must be listed vertically on a page and the voting marks must
> made to the right, the county election is moot.
> ``If that's the way it is worded it would, in fact be an ineffective
> Washington D.C. lawyer Kenneth Gross, an election law specialist.
>FLORIDA STATUTES 2000
> TITLE IX ELECTORS AND ELECTIONS
> CHAPTER 101 VOTING METHODS AND PROCEDURE
> Fla. Stat. § 101.151 (2000)
>101.151 Specifications for general election ballot.
> In counties in which voting machines are not used, and in other counties
>for use as absentee ballots not designed for tabulation
>by an electronic or electromechanical voting system, the general election
>ballot shall conform to the following specifications:
>(1) The ballot shall be printed on paper of such thickness that the
>printing cannot be distinguished from the back.
>(2) Across the top of the ballot shall be printed "Official Ballot,
>General Election," beneath which shall be printed the county,
>the precinct number, and the date of the election. The precinct number,
>however, shall not be required for absentee ballots.
>Above the caption of the ballot shall be two stubs with a perforated line
>between the stubs and between the lower stub and the
>top of the ballot. The top stub shall be stub No. 1 and shall have printed
>thereon, "General Election, Official Ballot," and then
>shall appear the name of the county, the precinct number, and the date of
>the election. On the left side shall be a blank line
>under which shall be printed "Signature of Voter." On the right side shall
>be "Initials of Issuing Official," above which there shall
>be a blank line. The second stub shall be the same, except there shall not
>be a space for signature of the elector. Both stubs
>No. 1 and No. 2 on ballots for each precinct shall be prenumbered
>consecutively, beginning with "No. 1." However, a second
>stub shall not be required for absentee ballots.
>(3) (a) Beneath the caption and preceding the names of candidates shall be
>the following words: "To vote for a candidate
>whose name is printed on the ballot, place a cross (X) mark in the blank
>space at the right of the name of the candidate for
>whom you desire to vote. To vote for a write-in candidate, write the name of
>the candidate in the blank space provided for that
>purpose." The ballot shall have headings under which shall appear the names
>of the offices and names of duly nominated
>candidates for the respective offices in the following order: the heading
>"Electors for President and Vice President" and
>thereunder the names of the candidates for President and Vice President of
>the United States nominated by the political party
>which received the highest vote for Governor in the last general election of
>the Governor in this state, above which shall appear
>the name of said party. Then shall appear the names of other candidates for
>President and Vice President of the United States
>who have been properly nominated. Votes cast for write-in candidates for
>President and Vice President shall be counted as
>votes cast for the presidential electors supporting such candidates. Then
>shall follow the heading "Congressional" and
>thereunder the offices of United States Senator and Representative in
>Congress; then the heading "State" and thereunder the
>offices of Governor and Lieutenant Governor, Secretary of State, Attorney
>General, Comptroller, Treasurer, Commissioner of
>Education, Commissioner of Agriculture, state attorney, and public defender,
>together with the names of the candidates for
>each office and the title of the office which they seek; then the heading
>"Legislative" and thereunder the offices of state senator
>and state representative; then the heading "County" and thereunder clerk of
>the circuit court, clerk of the county court (when
>authorized by law), sheriff, property appraiser, tax collector, district
>superintendent of schools, and supervisor of elections.
>Thereafter follows: members of the board of county commissioners, and such
>other county offices as are involved in the general
>election, in the order fixed by the Department of State. When a write-in
>candidate has qualified for any office, a subheading
>"Write-in Candidate for (name of office)" shall be provided followed by a
>blank space in which to write the name of the
>candidate. With respect to write-in candidates, if two or more candidates
>are seeking election to one office, only one blank
>space shall be provided.
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