Report: Florida not alone in election difficulties
By Larry Lipman, Palm Beach Post Washington Bureau
Tuesday, August 21, 2001
WASHINGTON -- A partisan congressional report concluded that Florida's electoral problems last year were not unique because more than 1.2 million votes for president were discarded all over the country.
The number of discarded ballots was more than twice as large as the 537,179-vote margin by which Al Gore beat Republican George W. Bush in the popular vote.
"Florida is just the tip of the iceberg. Lying underneath the water are dozens of states which could find themselves unable to determine the victor of a close election according to the House Judiciary Committee.
The report was released by U.S. Representative John Conyers, (D-Michigan), the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee and sponsor of a bill that would require states to adopt election reforms.
In a statement released with the report, Conyers noted that the "vast majority of states (38) have subjective and non-uniform recount procedures that would likely fail," under the standards the U.S. Supreme Court set last December in awarding Florida's electoral votes to Bush and giving him the presidency.
The Palm Beach Post couldn't reach committee chairman Representative James Sensenbrenner Jr., (R-Wisconsin), for comment Monday.
The report found numerous problems nationwide which surfaced as a result of the close election in Florida:
• Eligible voters in at least 25 states found their names had been illegally purged from election rolls or not added in time.
• Disabled voters in at least 18 states reported inaccessible polling stations and confusing ballots.
• Voters reportedly were intimidated by police and other officials on election day in at least 18 states.
• Voters complained about inadequate assistance from undertrained poll workers in at least 17 states.
Relying heavily on newspaper articles, the 122-page report summarized voting problems in every state.
The Palm Beach Post and a consortium of other newspapers are still analyzing all the votes.
The panel's report also relied on a report by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, that strongly criticized Florida Governor Jeb Bush and Secretary of State Katherine Harris and concluded that Florida's election "was marred by 'injustice, ineptitude, and inefficiency' that disenfranchised minority voters."