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Wednesday November 22, 2000

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Stupid, stupid Floridians

By Lora Helm

The presidential election has everyone completely annoyed. The future of the nation lies in the hands of the seemingly incompetent Florida citizens. Though the idea of Bush in the White House is frightening, the 10 percent of West Palm Beach County voters who botched up the election are fully responsible for their voting inadequacy. They only had to understand a ballot, not decipher Morse code. A re-vote would be a gift from God for all of us Bush-haters but should not be granted because of the stupidity of some voters.

The county in question had to disqualify 19,000 or so votes because two holes were punched. Apparently, voters entered their booths and punched Pat Buchanan on accident. Then, instead of asking for a new ballot, they punched Gore as well. Whatever the case, they then proceeded to leave their booth, and deposit their vote. Maybe they were afraid that once you left your booth, you could not go back in. On the other hand, maybe they were afraid of looking like fools. They were probably all the same men who refuse to ask for directions and end up driving lost for hours - just to avoid looking incompetent. The point is that they cast their vote, knowingly unsure of what they marked. Two answers were marked to only one question on the presidential election final exam. There is no re-test after the scores come in.

Remember the final exam you took that kicked you in the teeth? One question kept you changing your answer repeatedly. Never rationalizing that marking two answers would be your best bet, you erase and re-erase. Eventually, you manage to erase away 75 percent of the paper on that line. Maybe you skipped the second question and when you reached number 49 on the Scantron, you were on question 50 of the test. Did you wait until after the test was returned to complain? You went to the teacher, right away, and asked for a new form. We know that there is no re-test on finals, so our pride would not stand in our way of a grade. The voters who did let their pride stand in the way of their vote should not get a re-vote.

Others say that they meant to vote for Gore, but that the ballot was confusing and subsequently they accidentally voted for Buchanan. This is just as stupid. The presidential election is important enough to ask questions and verify. Now, they are angry. Now these people are asking for a re-vote and blaming the woman who created the ballot. Suddenly enraged, their concern over the votes comes far too late. A re-vote would place the blame on the state, instead of on the individual.

Unfortunately, one individual is suffering for the voters who refuse to hold themselves accountable. Theresa LePore is the democratic Palm Beach County supervisor of elections. She is taking the heat for the problems in the polls. One angry voter is quoted as saying, "It was a bad ballot, her head is going to roll." However, 90 percent of the voters in that county were able to vote their will on the ballot in question. LePore had the ballot approved by numerous candidates before the election. It was printed in the paper and shown on the news. She created the ballot with more legible print so senior citizens would be able to read it more easily. The poor woman had to hire an attorney to represent her against the various lawsuits that she faces.

So much confusion fogs the data coming from the mosquito-ridden state that it is impossible to keep track of what is really happening. The Florida voters had no idea of the impact that their individual votes would have. In fact, none of us did. Clearly, the commonly held conception that our individual votes do not matter is not as true as it felt last Monday. Hopefully, when 2004 roles around, none of us will question how important each vote is. We can be sure that those suffering from post-voter guilt will especially careful when casting their next ballot.