Tags: Florida | Ballot | Lawsuit | Plaintiff: | Wasn't | Too | Bright'

Florida Ballot Lawsuit Plaintiff: 'I Wasn't Too Bright'

Thursday, 09 November 2000 12:00 AM

Plaintiffs in the lawsuit, filed Wednesday, claim that many voters thought they were voting for Democrat Al Gore but mistakenly voted for Reform Party candidate Pat Buchanan. Officials with the Palm Beach County Circuit Court said a second, similar lawsuit was filed Thursday morning.

Palm Beach is at the epicenter of the controversies surrounding Florida's statewide ballot recount, which is legally required because of the closeness of Tuesday's election.

"What we're seeking is to have a new election in Palm Beach County because we feel that the ballot, as it stood, was confusing and as by reason of being confusing, people's vote was not tallied" properly, said Howard Weiss, attorney with Weiss and Handler, which is representing the plaintiffs in the case.

The outcome of the presidential election hinges on Florida's 25 electoral votes. Gore and Republican candidate George W. Bush both need the state's electoral votes to gain the constitutionally required total of 270.

The plaintiffs in the suit claim the only way they and others can be certain of their vote is to hold a new election.

"People are entitled to have their vote counted for whom they intended to vote for," said Weiss. "And by reason of confusing nature, we feel there should be a [new] election so as to preserve the credibility of the American system for voting."

The ballot at the center of the lawsuit depicted the names of presidential tickets in two side-by-side columns, separated by punch holes voters use to select their choice.

"You have to see it with the punch holes," said Weiss. "If you see it with the punch holes, it's even more confusing. People thought they were voting for Gore and ended up being counted on Buchanan's side."

Andre Fladell, one of the plaintiffs in the case, said he was certain he and other voters cast incorrect ballots.

"I voted for the second punch hole and for the second name," said Fladell, thinking he was voting for Gore. In reality, he believes he voted erroneously for Buchanan.

Fladell, a 52-year-old chiropractor who moved to Florida from New York City 22 years ago, admitted he didn't pay close attention to the ballot.

"I never looked at it," he said, noting that some of his acquaintances also complained about the ballot.

"I leave the voting booth, and I go to the beach, and I'm with my friends. They say, 'Boy, that was the toughest ballot I ever saw,' and I'm laughing because I'm thinking they're not too bright," said Fladell.

"Turns out I wasn't too bright."

When asked how nearly 270,000 Palm Beach County voters apparently did vote for Gore rather than Buchanan or some other candidate, Fladell speculated that it was because some "people who don't vote a lot have an advantage. People who vote a lot have a disadvantage."

"People who have never voted will take a lot more time" to examine the ballot, Fladell said.

"People who vote regularly just assume it's the same as it always is," he said, explaining that previous ballots listed the Democrat candidate and corresponding punch hole second on the list of nominees.

Fladell said there was no way Buchanan's votes should have been as high as they were in Palm Beach County.

"There is not a Jewish condo Democrat that votes straight Democrat for 15 different [offices] and then votes for someone they think is anti-Semitic," said Fladell, referring to the Jewish population living in condominium communities.

According to unofficial returns from Florida, Buchanan received 3,407 votes in Palm Beach County, representing less than eight-tenths of 1 percent of the estimated 431,621 votes cast in the county.

Gore received an estimated 269,696 votes, or about 62.48 percent of the vote in Palm Beach County, while Bush received 152,954 votes, about 35.43 percent of the vote there.

The suit has not yet been scheduled for a hearing but has been placed on the docket of Palm Beach County Circuit Court Judge Stephen A. Rapp.

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Plaintiffs in the lawsuit, filed Wednesday, claim that many voters thought they were voting for Democrat Al Gore but mistakenly voted for Reform Party candidate Pat Buchanan. Officials with the Palm Beach County Circuit Court said a second, similar lawsuit was filed...
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2000-00-09
Thursday, 09 November 2000 12:00 AM
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