Monday, September 27, 2004

Carter Shrieks Out About Florida

Former President Carter has an op-ed in the today.Washington Post

Carter's lies can be divided into three parts.
First, he asserts that certain procedures are required of "transparent, honest and fair" elections.
Second, he claims that pro-Republican bias explains the failure to adopt these procedures.
Third, he accuses the GOP of concrete acts by which the election will be rigged for a Bush victory.

Carter asserts:
• A nonpartisan electoral commission or a trusted and nonpartisan official who will be responsible for organizing and conducting the electoral process before, during and after the actual voting takes place. Although rarely perfect in their objectivity, such top administrators are at least subject to public scrutiny and responsible for the integrity of their decisions. Florida voting officials have proved to be highly partisan, brazenly violating a basic need for an unbiased and universally trusted authority to manage all elements of the electoral process.

• Uniformity in voting procedures, so that all citizens, regardless of their social or financial status, have equal assurance that their votes are cast in the same way and will be tabulated with equal accuracy. Modern technology is already in use that makes electronic voting possible, with accurate and almost immediate tabulation and with paper ballot printouts so all voters can have confidence in the integrity of the process. There is no reason these proven techniques, used overseas and in some U.S. states, could not be used in Florida.

The metricious use of the vague phrase "Florida election officials" masks the meaningful separation of powers present in Florida and many other states. Carter is basically complaining that the Florida state constitution gives oversight of elections to county officials and to a Secretary of State appointed by the Governor.
There were widespread complaints of the bias of county election boards in 2000, but the counties of the deepest controversy were supervised by Democrats.
The division of authority between state and county officials makes uniformity of equipment highly unlikely. This comes about because the citizens of Florida have chosen to place local control of election methods above uniformity of practice.

These arguments are at least grounded in reality and merely reflect differing priorities between the citizens of Florida and former President Carter. However he quickly plunges down the rabbit hole.
Four years ago, the top election official, Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris, was also the co-chair of the Bush-Cheney state campaign committee. The same strong bias has become evident in her successor, Glenda Hood, who was a highly partisan elector for George W. Bush in 2000.

Jimmy Carter is a former Governor of Georgia and former President of the United States; he knows damn well the difference between serving as co-chair of a state campaign committee and serving as an elector.
As the Florida Dept of State website states, "the Secretary of State is head of the Department of State and is appointed by and serves at the pleasure of the Governor. The Secretary serves as the State's Chief Election Officer and is second in line to succession to the Office of the Governor."
Carter apparently expects a Florida Governor to choose either a lukewarm member of his own party or an experienced and well-known member of the opposition party to occupy the #3 spot in Florida politics.

Carter makes further lame and self-incriminating accusations of dirty tricks:

Several thousand ballots of African Americans were thrown out on technicalities in 2000, and a fumbling attempt has been made recently to disqualify 22,000 African Americans (likely Democrats), but only 61 Hispanics (likely Republicans), as alleged felons.

The world's foremost election monitor demands that voter-eligibility rules be ignored as "technicalities", and blindly engages in racial profiling.
As a felon is someone who has been convicted in a court proceeding, describing someone as an "alleged felon" is declaring your own lazy refusal to do your homework.

The top election official has also played a leading role in qualifying Ralph Nader as a candidate, knowing that two-thirds of his votes in the previous election came at the expense of Al Gore. She ordered Nader's name be included on absentee ballots even before the state Supreme Court ruled on the controversial issue.

Rock bottom. Qualifying third-party candidates isn't evidence of a lack of partisan bias, but rather a confirmation of bias against the opposition party! Mr. Carter, does Ralph Nader possess a right to appear on the ballot independent of Republican/Democrat horse-trading, or is that merely a privilege to be granted when convenient to bipartisan interests?

Carter suggests, "[w]ith reforms unlikely at this late stage of the election, perhaps the only recourse will be to focus maximum public scrutiny on the suspicious process in Florida." If maximum scrutiny on the process means minimum scrutiny on Carter, we could only benefit.