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INSIDE THE CONSORTIUM BALLOT STUDY
By Sharon Becker, as told to David Podvin
In February of this year, I personally witnessed Al Gore pick up almost
enough votes in the Consortium ballot study, in my county alone, to win the
state of Florida and the presidency.
As the newly elected chair of the
Polk County, Florida, Democratic Executive Committee, I went to our local
Supervisor of Elections building to observe the ballot study being conducted by
the National Opinion Research Center for the media Consortium.
In the coding room, there were four
people seated at a long table who were examining the ballots. Surrounding them
were four Republican observers. I was the only Democrat present. The other
people in the room were a representative from the University of Chicago and an
employee of the local election supervisor.
In our primarily Republican County,
the voting equipment is of the optical scanning variety. Voters use pencils to
fill in little bubbles that are then read by the machines.
From my position in the room, I was
able to observe the process during which the “overvotes” were counted. These
were ballots in which the citizen voted more than once in the same race.
According to Florida law, such
ballots must count if the intent of the voter is clear.
There were two primary reasons that
ballots were designated as “overvotes”. First, the ballot design in our
county had Democratic vice presidential candidate Joe Lieberman’s name
immediately above the word “Libertarian”. It was sufficiently confusing that
some voters put pencil marks next to both “Lieberman” and “Libertarian”.
At the bottom of the ballot, there
was a section that read, “Write In The Name Of Your Candidate”. It did not
mention that a voter should write in a name only if they had not previously
selected a candidate.
Outrageously, in GOP controlled Polk
County, the election supervisor had ruled that ballots containing a filled
bubble for Gore and the written name of Gore did not indicate whom the voter
wanted for president.
Watching as six hundred ninety one
“overvotes” were reviewed, I saw the coders establish that far more of them
were for Al Gore than for George W. Bush. This provided the vice president with
almost enough votes in our one county to offset the official 571 vote lead
statewide lead for Bush.
MakeThemAccountable has spoken with observers, coders, and supervisors
throughout Florida, in both Democratic and Republican counties. Their accounts
are all similar to that of Ms. Becker – during the ballot study, they observed
an overwhelming trend for Al Gore. She is the latest eyewitness to refute the
Consortium’s absurd claim that no one could possibly know who was doing well
in the ballot study because the ballots have yet to be tabulated.
Participants in the study are
reluctant to come forward now, because to do so would violate their
confidentiality agreement with the NORC. They are waiting to see what the
Consortium does with the ballot study. Some of them have told
MakeThemAccountable that, if the Consortium continues with its pattern of
concealment and deception, they will view that as a breach of their agreement
and are prepared to come forward with first hand knowledge of the truth that Al
Gore decisively won the state of Florida.