Blogs > HNN > What Really Happened In Florida's 2000 Presidential Election

Feb 26, 2004 9:24 pm

What Really Happened In Florida's 2000 Presidential Election

Imagine an election in Northern Ireland where one of every nine or ten ballots cast by Protestants was rejected as invalid compared to less than one of fifty ballots cast by Catholics. This would be a stunning international scandal, with cries of outrage and protest and calls for the most thorough of investigations. Substitute Florida for Northern Ireland, blacks for Protestants, and whites for Catholics and that is precisely what happened in the 2000 presidential election in the United States, the world’s longest surviving democracy. Yet the Florida fiasco has scarcely caused a ripple in American politics, ignored not just by the Right but by progressives as well.

What follows is an account of what I discovered in Florida’s 2000 presidential election as the analyst for the United States Commission on Civil Rights. I welcome comments not only on the substance of the findings, but also on the reason for the lack of attention to the disenfranchisement of African-Americans and the skewed results of the presidential election.

George W. Bush is president today because the votes counted in Florida’s presidential election did not match the ballots cast by the state’s voters. But the outcome in Florida – which determined the presidency – was not decided by hanging chads, recounts, or intervention by the Supreme Court.

Al Gore lost Florida’s presidential vote because electoral officials tossed into the trashcan as invalid more than one out of every ten ballots cast by African-Americans throughout the state. In some counties, nearly 25 percent of ballots cast by blacks were set aside as invalid. In contrast, officials rejected less than one out of every fifty ballots cast by whites statewide. If black ballots had been rejected at the same minimal rate as white ballots, more than 50,000 additional black votes would have been counted in Florida’s presidential election. Given that more than 90 percent of blacks favored Gore over Bush, Gore would have won Florida by at least 40,000 votes.

These were the results of a statistical study that I was commissioned to conduct for the United States Commission on Civil Rights and a subsequent analysis published in the Journal of Legal Studies (January 2003). Independent studies by Professors Phil Klinkner of Hamilton College and Anthony Salvanto of the University of California, the New York Times and the Washington Post confirmed the finding of major racial disparities in ballot rejection rates.

Although individual ballots do not contain racial identifications, I was able to confirm these findings with data that later became available for some 6,000 Florida precincts, including voter sign-in sheets with racial identifications and the cumulative numbers of valid and rejected ballots. Analysis showed that 11 percent of ballots were rejected in precincts whose voters were 90% or more black, compared to just 2 percent of ballots in 90%+ white precincts. Statistical analyses that examine the relationship between ballot rejection and racial composition for all 6,000 precincts yield similar results, reported in my Journal of Legal Studies article.

Two Civil Rights Commissioners filed a dissenting report that contained no evidence contradicting the finding of major racial disparities in ballot rejection. The dissenters’ alternative argument that disparities are explained by factors such as racial differences in education and income is refuted by analyses showing that major racial disparities persist even after statistically controlling for education, literacy, age, income, poverty, ballot design, voting technology, first-time voting, and the race or party of the election supervisor. Not surprisingly, most supervisors in counties with the highest ballot rejection rates were Democrats, given that these were also the most heavily black counties. However, I pointed no fingers of blame at supervisors or any other officials, but called for studies to determine the causes of disparate treatment of black voters in Florida.

Moreover, John Lott, the analyst who conducted a statistical study for the dissenters (who was found to have created a sock puppet, Mary Rosh, on the Internet to heap praise on his work and even review one of his books) has since abandoned the argument presented in the dissenter’s report. He now makes instead the bizarre claim that the burden of ballot rejection fell upon African-American Republicans, who were just 5 percent of black voters. Lott asserts that black Republicans “are 54 to 66 times more likely than the average African-American to produce non-voted ballots.” If this claim were true, then the rate of ballot rejection for African-Americans was 540 percent to 660 percent – an impossible 5 to 6 ballots turned aside for every ballot cast.

Lott’s work indicates just how desperately the dissenters and their political allies have sought to obscure what actually happened in Florida. But slumbering liberals are no less to blame than conservatives for the lack of national attention to an extraordinary injustice to minorities that determined the outcome of a presidential election. Why no mobilization of protest from the NAACP? The Urban League. The ACLU. The Democratic Party.

Absent public outrage, the United States Department of Justice has never conducted the necessary investigation of Florida’s presidential election to discover the reasons behind racial disparities in ballot rejection rates. So we must wish away what really happened in Florida and never find out why African-Americans disproportionately lost their right to vote or how to make sure this doesn’t happen again – anywhere in America. Unfortunately, despite a federal election reform bill, another Florida remains a tragic risk for 2004.

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George Dechow - 9/11/2004

For years blacks in the South were given verbal tests and not allowed to even register to vote (supposedly because they failed the test)

Question to potential white voter: "Who won the 1960 Presidential election?"

Answer "Kenedy"

"Right, you may register"

Question to potential black voter: "How many votes did Kenedy get?"

Answer "34,266,732".

"Wrong it was 34,226,731, you may not register"

This was obviously blatently unfair and discriminatory

Now the only test is "Can you fill out the ballot well enough that we can tell who you're trying to vote for"

If they fail at this we can only count their vote by ESP in which case, as earlier noted we might as well not have elections.

Mike Hersh - 5/25/2004

There's no question the Jeb Bush, Katherine Harris, Clayton Roberts trio intentionally disenfranchised Black voters unfairly and in violation of the Voting Rights Act. You don't deny that, do you?

Mike Hersh - 5/25/2004

Considering that MACHINES not people counted most of the votes in Florida, and the partisan 5 member majority on the US Supreme Court delayed then denied the hand-counts mandated by Florida Law, Mr. Hueisler is wrong in all his assumptions and assertions.

Accurate counts by the media consortium using Florida Law for guidance indicates that Al Gore received more legal votes in Florida 2000, and therefore earned both the electoral votes from that State and the presidency. Of course by the time we learned this conclusively, 9/11/01 drove that concern out of most Americans' minds.

Bill Heuisler - 3/9/2004

Mr. Lichtman,
How could you have been so wrong about everything? Didn't you do any basic research at all? Perhaps reading a few reports or articles would've helped.

For your edification and HNN readers:

March 09, 2004, 8:58 a.m.
Florida Forever
The political urban legend that facts won't kill.

By Peter Kirsanow

Several pundits have predicted that there will be a huge turnout for the Florida Democratic primary Tuesday, particularly among black voters. This, despite the fact that John Kerry has effectively secured the nomination.

The reasons are twofold: (1) Democrats will make every effort to get out the vote to demonstrate that Florida will be in play during the general election; and (2) black voters, incensed that they were systematically harassed, intimidated and prevented from voting in the 2000 presidential election — the "stolen" election — will stream to the polls in droves.

The second reason is a political myth repeated ad nauseum during the Democratic presidential primary. But political myths can overcome facts through sheer repetition: The New Deal ended the Depression; tax cuts caused budget deficits in the eighties, etc. These myths serve vital partisan imperatives — especially when the policy cupboards of the partisans are bare or vermin-infested.

Even before the last vote had been cast in the 2000 presidential election, activists had descended upon Florida, claiming a widespread conspiracy to disenfranchise black voters. Allegations that state troopers put up roadblocks and checkpoints to prevent blacks from voting were rampant. Dogs and hoses were allegedly used to drive black voters from the polls. Bull Connor's heirs had been unleashed — all at the direction of Governor Bush and his sidekick, Secretary of State Katherine Harris.

The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights investigated over a six-month period beginning in January of 2001. Its 200-page majority report, "Voting Irregularities in Florida During the 2000 Presidential Election," excoriates Florida's election officials for various acts of misfeasance. But the conclusions drawn by the report often bore little relationship to the facts contained therein. And media descriptions of the report did little to dispel the widespread belief among the black electorate that blacks had been systematically targeted for harassment, intimidation and disenfranchisement.

Of course, very few actually read the report. But the handful that did (especially the incisive dissent authored by Commissioners Abigail Thernstrom and Russell Redenbaugh) discovered the astonishing mendacity underlying the myth.

There's absolutely no evidence that a single person was intimidated, harassed, or prevented from voting by Florida law enforcement. Despite claims of rampant police intimidation and harassment, the only evidence of law-enforcement "misconduct" consisted of just two witnesses who described their perceptions regarding the actions of the Florida Highway Patrol. One of these witnesses testified that he thought it was "unusual" to see an empty patrol car parked outside a polling place. There was no evidence that sight of the vehicle somehow intimidated the witness or any other voters from casting ballots. There was no evidence that the erstwhile occupant of the vehicle harassed voters. There was no evidence that the empty vehicle was there for the purpose of somehow disenfranchising anyone assigned to vote at that location.

The second witness had filed a highly publicized complaint with the NAACP regarding a police motor-vehicle checkpoint. In the hysterical recount period following the election the complaint took on a life of its own and apparently became part of the basis for the legend that legions of cops were harassing thousands of black voters throughout Florida.

The evidence, however, shows that the checkpoint in question was two miles from the polling place. Moreover, it was not even on the same road as the polling facility. During the checkpoint's approximately ninety minutes of operation, citations for faulty equipment were issued to 16 individuals, 12 of whom were white. The uncontroverted evidence shows that no one was delayed or prohibited from voting due to the lone checkpoint.

There's no evidence of systematic disenfranchisement of black voters. The myth of a nefarious plot to thwart black voters from casting ballots is wholly unsupported by the evidence. Inconvenience, bureaucratic errors and inefficiencies were indeed pervasive. But these problems don't rise to the level of invidious discrimination. (There was one case in which a black woman alleged that she was turned away from a poll at closing time whereas a white man wasn't.)

Much has been made of the "felon purge list", i.e., a list of those individuals who, under Florida law, were to be barred from voting due to felony convictions (see the "Felon Franchise). The list had been prepared to prevent the kind of fraud that had occurred in the infamous Miami mayoral election in which a number of ineligible felons voted.

The list was inaccurate; it included people who shouldn't have been on it. Thus, the myth holds that the purge list was somehow a tool to deny blacks the right to vote.

But facts are stubborn things. Whites were actually twice as likely as blacks to be erroneously placed on the list. In fact, an exhaustive study by the Miami Herald concluded that "the biggest problem with the felon list was not that it prevented eligible voters from casting ballots, but that it ended up allowing ineligible voters to cast a ballot" (This quote, as well as many of the facts contained herein, come from Commissioners Abigail Thernstrom's and Russell Redenbaugh's dissent to the Commission report.). According to the Palm Beach Post more than 6,500 ineligible felons voted.

State officials were not at fault for widespread voter "disenfranchisement". The myth holds that Governor Bush, in league with Secretary of State Katherine Harris, either by design or incompetence, failed to fulfill their electoral responsibilities, resulting in the discriminatory disenfranchisement of thousands of black voters. This was purportedly a key to the overarching Republican plot to steal the election from Al Gore.

Again, reality intrudes. The uncontroverted evidence shows that by statute the responsibility for the conduct of elections is in the hands of county supervisors, not the governor or secretary of state. County supervisors are independent officers answerable to county commissioners, not the governor or secretary of state. And in 24 of the 25 counties that had the highest ballot-spoilage rates, the county supervisor was a Democrat. (In the remaining county the supervisor was not a Republican, but an independent.)

Moreover, as is simply put by Commissioner Thernstrom, voter error is not the same thing as "disenfranchisement." Even if more black than white voters spoiled their ballots by mistake, that's not evidence of a scheme to discriminate on the basis of race, and it certainly doesn't evoke images of dogs and fire hoses.

After issuance of the commission's report some diehards, perhaps realizing that history frowns on demagoguery, desperately sought any facts that might support the myth. The Justice Department was pressed for action.

The Justice Department conducted a thorough investigation. The result:

The Civil Rights Division found no credible evidence in our investigation that Floridians were intentionally denied their right to vote during the November 2000 election.
The Justice Department did find violations of the Voting Rights Act in three counties. The infractions were that some poll workers had been hostile to Hispanic voters, bilingual assistance hadn't been provided to two Haitian voters and some Hispanic voters had been denied bilingual assistance. None of the offending counties was controlled by Republicans.

Of course, there's a reason why charges of disenfranchisement have great traction among the black electorate. After all, the Voting Rights Act wasn't simply a piece of feel-good legislation. Poll taxes, literacy tests, and worse remain vivid memories for far too many.

That's precisely why baseless claims of voter harassment on the basis of race are particularly odious. They inflame racial tensions by perpetuating a belief that the shameful practices from two generations past continue unabated; that a virulently racist hegemony is forever poised to subjugate minorities.

The consequences of generating suspicion of the electoral process for the sake of partisan advantage are at once insidious and profound. They dangerously undermine the legitimacy of government and encourage rejection of its authority.

The myth is poisonous to society and democracy. Its antidote is a relentless, adamant repetition of the truth.

— Peter Kirsanow is a member of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. A version of this piece was first published last year on NRO.

Commission on Civil Rights. First published last year.
Mr. Lichtman, bias is a real drawback, but in your case we're talking rank incompetance aren't we?
Bill Heuisler

Bill Heuisler - 3/7/2004

I'm getting a little tired of you telling me I'm wrong about the 1964 CRA. It's your area, get it right. Here's a little help, but in the future I'm sending you a bill.

The Congressional Quarterly of June 26, 1964 recorded:
in the Senate, only 69% of Democrats (46 for, 21 against) voted for the Civil Rights Act as compared to 82% of Republicans (27 for, 6 against). All southern Democratic senators voted against the Act. This includes the current senator from West Virginia (former KKK member) Robert C. Bryd and former Tennessee senator Al Gore, Sr. The Civil Rights Act's primary opposition was southern Democrats' 74-day filibuster.
In the House of Representatives, 61% of Democrats (152 for, 96 against) voted for the Civil Rights Act; 92 of the 103 southern Democrats voted against it. Among Republicans, 80% (138 for, 34 against) voted for it.

Why don't you remember the major role Republicans played in fighting for civil rights, Derek? Have you become too politically correct to give credit where due? During the Eisenhower Administration, the Republican Party made more progress in civil rights than in the preceding 80 years. That's right Derek, 80 years! According to Congressional Quarterly, "Although the Democratic-controlled Congress watered them down, the Administration's recommendations resulted in significant and effective civil rights legislation in both 1957 and 1960 - the first civil rights statutes to be passed in more than 80 years" ("The Republican Party 1960 Civil Rights Platform," May 1964). It reported on April 5, 1963 that, " A group of eight Republican senators in March joined in introducing a series of 12 civil rights bills that would implement many of the recommendations made in the Civil Rights Commission report of 1961."

The principal measures introduced by these Republicans would broaden the Civil Rights Act of 1964, making it "designed to pass unlike Democratic 'public relations' attempts" (CQ, February 15, 1963, p. 191). Republican senators overwhelmingly "chided" President John Kennedy about his "failure to act in this field (civil rights)." Republican senators criticized Kennedy's February 28, 1963 civil rights message as "falling far short" of the Civil Rights Commission's recommendations and both party platforms. "If the President will not assume the leadership in getting through Congress urgently needed civil rights measures," the Republican senators said, " then Congress must take the initiative" (CQ, April 5, 1963, p. 527).

At the signing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, President Johnson praised the Republicans for their "overwhelming" support. Roy Wilkins, then-NAACP chairman, awarded Republican Senate Minority Leader Everett Dirksen of Illinois the Leadership Conference of Civil Rights Award for his "remarkable civil rights leadership." Moreover, civil rights activist Andrew Young wrote in his book An Easy Burden that "The southern segregationists were all Democrats, and it was black Republicans... who could effectively influence the appointment of federal judges in the South" (p. 96). Young added that the best civil rights judges were Republicans appointed by President Dwight Eisenhower and that "these judges are among the many unsung heroes of the civil rights movement."

The historical facts and numbers show the Republican Party was more for civil rights than the Democrats. The Civil Rights Act of 1964, in reality, could not have been passed without Republican votes. It is an injustice for contemporary Democratic politicians, Liberal College Professors and liberal news media to continue to deny Republicans credit for their civil rights triumphs. Now is the time for Republicans to start informing black Americans of those historical triumphs to lead them back to their home party.

But through "experts" like you, misinformation continues, generation to generation. Aren't you a little ashamed?

Bill Heuisler - 3/7/2004

Your ignorance of the Nation magazine's soul shocks me. The editors of Nation supported the Russian Revolution, Stalinist collectivization, purge trials, the Nazi-Soviet Pact, the Soviet conquest of Eastern Europe, the Maoist tyranny in China, communist conquest of South Vietnam, Pol Pot's genocidal revolution and, of course, Castro's dictatorship in Cuba.

And, during the Cold War, the Nation opposed the Truman Doctrine, the formation of NATO and SEATO, and efforts of our military and intelligence to check the USSR. The magazine for fifty years waged journalistic war against defenders of freedom in the West, against America's cold war presidents, Truman to Reagan.

At the same time the Nation defended Soviet spies, Harry Dexter White, Owen Lattimore, John Stewart Service and the Rosenbergs. In 1999 the Nation defended Alger Hiss.

In fact, in a retrospective in December, 1999 the Nation chose to run an appraisal of the socialist century past and a forecast of a socialist century to come as their welcome to the new millennia. First was, "Exploiting a Tragedy, or Le Rouge En Noir" written by Daniel Singer.
The main focus and target of Singer's article is "The Black Book of Communism," a French treatise that sums up the human horror of Communism. According to the book's authors, during the 20th century between 85 and 100 million human beings were slaughtered in peacetime by Marxists determined to realize their impossible dream.

But the Nation and Singer fervently rejected the Book and the cause of Twentieth Century horror. Singer wrote, "Our aim - let us not be ashamed to say so -is to revive the belief in collective action and in the possibility of radical transformation in our lives." He calls this belief, "the Promethean spirit of humankind," a term that quotes the precise language Marx used when he launched his destructive project. Marxism is dead. But long live Marxism, says the Nation.

For the Nation, the unrelieved horror and failure of socialist experiments over the last century is not a lesson to reconsider the faith. For the Nation this is the story of "a revolution in a backward country failing to spread...". In other words, had there been sufficient communists in America and Europe to make revolutions, the Socialist Utopia would've been realized - with communists controlling everyone Marxist fantasy could've come true.

And, in the very next issue, a Nation editorial, "Street Fight in Seattle," hails the WTO political violence in the state of Washington as a beacon of socialist renewal. The editorial gloats, "something not seen since the sixties". And the Nation looked back fondly to when anti-capitalist, anti-market, anti-property Leftists last took Socialist fantasies and nihilism into America's streets.

From generation to generation the Nation's rhetoric never changes, never seems to learn. "A corporate-dominated WTO that puts profits before people and property rights before human rights can no longer sustain its current course," the Nation quoted Gerald McEntee, a government union leader and power in Democratic Party politics. "We refuse to be marketized." Not only Stalinist, but stupid.

Derek, The Nation is opposed to Free Democracy, a system that brings unimagined well-being to millions of people, a system which is the only creator of democratic freedoms the world has ever known. Stalinist is much too kind.

Bill Heuisler - 3/7/2004

Don't try to compare Bush/Hitler, Nation/Stalinist. To do so demeans you and puts you in pretty nasty company. But in fact, your precious Stalinist magazine did so compare.

Wallace Shawn wrote the following in The Nation magazine:
"Why are we being so ridiculously polite? It's as if there were some sort of gentleman's agreement that prevents people from stating the obvious truth that Bush and his colleagues are exhilarated and thrilled by the thought of war, by the scale, the massiveness of the bombing they're planning, the violence, the killing, the blood, the deaths. Why do they want this war so much? Maybe we can never fully know the answer to that question. Why do some people want so desperately to have sex with children that they can't prevent themselves from raping them, even though they know what they're doing is wrong? Why did Hitler want to kill the Jews?"

Look it up. And there's more.
Rank obscenity. Stalinist is kind as pejoratives go - too political and doesn't really plumb the raw thuggishness. What's remarkable is decent Americans like you let this stuff go unchallenged, ignore it because its so chic. The Nation Editor decided such a disgusting metaphor from so obviously debased a mind should grace the pages of his magazine. Which editor? Who knows? But just typical fare from a magazine you've spent three days defending.

Bill Heuisler - 3/7/2004

The Nation? It's foolish for you to cast a magazine as "not embracing Stalin" when there's so much evidence to the contrary - like in Lichtman's premise.

I didn't want to show you up again, but since you insist.
After the Nazi Soviet pact failed, the Nation was quite vocal in its support for Stalin and USSR. Nation articles constantly pushed the Stalinist line and argued against the Cold War just the way they argued against the war against Saddam. Stalinist? In the 1930 edition of The Nation (vol.131, 3397).Oswald Villard questions whether or not, "...the United States should make effective its disapproval of both the Russian and Italian dictatorships to aid in bringing them down in a collapse which would enable the masses of both countries simply to erect more democratic governments." So, rather than topple monsters like Stalin, Mussolini (or Saddam) perhaps the US should address domestic issues. Gee, that sounds familiar too. In the August 13, 1930, edition of The Nation, a Mr. Del Vayo mocks the US policy of dividing the world community between capitalist and Communist. Del Vayo also asked Nation readership to oppose the Marshall Plan and to "do away with our craven fears of the Communist menace". Scoop. Jimmy Carter plagiarized from the Nation.

Villard and Del Vayo were just early voices in a Magazine that has always disliked US antagonism of Stalin (and still does). After World War II, The Nation editorially expressed doubts over the Marshall Plan and continued to provide a forum for critics of aid to countries near the new Iron Curtain like Gunnar Myrdal, who at the time was head of the United Nations Economic Commission.

Before you scoff at ancient history, Derek, the Nation’s most recent antiwar crusade against President Bush’s declaration that, in the War on Terror, nations are either "with us or against us" the magazine recalled and justified its opposition to the Marshall Plan by citing concerned international "experts" such as Myrdal.

In place of the Marshall Plan, The Nation welcomed the gentle embrace of international trade and mediation in order to stave off the Armageddon anti-Communism would bring. The Nation editorialized, "Mussolini and Stalin can no more be overthrown from outside than Herbert Hoover be driven out of the White House by foreign pressure." Nor, according to the Nation, do the United States, whose people are among the most "feared and hated" on earth (sound familiar?) have any right to pass judgment on Stalin and his USSR.

Of course the Nation doesn't "embrace Stalin", Stalin is dead. As a prominent historian you should be more aware.
But, Derek, the Nation walks like a Dzhugashvili Duck and has always talked like one. Professor, don't lecture me about credibility until you've done your homework.

Rod Siberine - 3/7/2004

Thank you for your brilliant post! And I do feel the need to clarify on this board and particularly this discussion... I am NOT being sarcastic!

Derek Charles Catsam - 3/7/2004

Bill --
But facts and accuracy are as much my purview as anyone else's. How can you possibly expect anyone to engage you on an argument about whether or noit what happened in Florida was "racist" if you can simply insist against all facts that the Nation is "Stalinist" when, by the definition of the word, the nation does not embrace Stalin?
How about Republicans hiring a private company to work the magic of purging people from voter rolls who were allegedly felons, doing so selectively, and not using all of the evidence at their disposal to make sure erroirs were not made?
I take stock in some Nation articles, not in all. I take stock in some National review articleds and not in all. I think Corn gets itr right sometimes, wrong others. I don't take your comic book view of history or politics.
As for "answer the questions," this goes under the suppositiuon that you diuctate terms of debate here. yet when you say things so demonstrably dumb and false as to throw out terms like "Stalinist" you abandon any credibility with me to discern relevance. There were allegations of race-based profiliong in Flroida. This is disquieting. That you don't see it the same way and don't want investigations and safgeguards says a great deal about you. That you multiple times have tried clumsily to bring up the 1964 CRA and have goitten the facts wrong every time, always in the service of propping up partisan arguments reveals you as having no interest in serious inquiry about race ands politics.
You need to get over yourself as the arbiter of what is and is not the germane point on History News Network, because you don't bring anything any more authoritativge to the table than anyone else.
PS -- your opinions ARE half of the argument. If you did not have opinions, there would be no argument. In any case, if the Natiuon is SDtalinist it is certainly fair for those who disagree with you to say Bush is Hitler. It's idiocy no matter which side wields it.

Bill Heuisler - 3/6/2004

Intellectual sophistication? Like changing the subject?

The Nation is IDed as Stalinist by me. Get over it and answer my questions about Lichtman's article. Do you have stock in the Nation? Are you a fan of Corn? My opinions of magazines are not your purview and I don't give a damn what you think about them. If you enjoy avoiding issues by obsessing over my opinions, we'll never be able to discuss anything. Answer the questions.

Dan A Fox - 3/6/2004

I believe Florida was only part of the issue. What about all of the other stats that were very close. If I recall Mussouri and either Arizona or New Mexico were also very close, and a lot of states closed the polls before the voting lines were emptied. I believe the issue in Florida was much more dramatic and thus became a focal point. We never really know how many votes are tossed because most states are not required to report on this. Basically Florida brought the entire voting issue to the fore-front.
Something to consider. Based ont he last election, you can bet that more will vote this elect that ever before.

Derek Charles Catsam - 3/6/2004

Bill --
The nation is idfedntified as a Stalinist magazine? By whom? It is not Stalinist, period. That is just another example of your ad hominem approach to argument -- where you don't have a case, you call names. Or else the namecalling simply is your case. Being far left does not make one Stalinist. For once, how about a modicum of intellectual sophistication?

Kevin M Gannon - 3/6/2004

As I re-read my above post, I am embarassed about my use of ad hominem language, as well as its general inflammatory tone. I apologize to Mr. Hueisler and other readers of this thread for my intemperance. While I strongly disagree with Mr. Hueisler, I did not articulate these disagreements repsectfully or professionally, as I would like to have done if someone disagrees with me. So my apologies for the rudeness.
Kevin Gannon

Bill Heuisler - 3/4/2004

Mr. Gannon,
You're very welcome. Need more advice, just call. Your fascination with me is both flattering and a little disturbing. Hope your extensive study was rewarding. If this obsession begins to interfere with your life, by all means, go see a psychiatrist or come on over to Tucson and we'll discuss your problems. I'm in the phone book and I'm sure it'll be a treat to meet a "real" Marine.

As to issues, since you have no opinions worth sharing about the 2000 Florida election, I'll assume you agree with me because you find me so interesting.
Bill Heuisler

Kevin M Gannon - 3/4/2004

Gee--the "Nation" is Stalinist?

I had no idea. Thank you, Mr. Heuisler, for rescuing me from what would have been an exceedingly tragic event--I almost bought an issue of that Soviet rag today, before I read your admonition. To think--I could have contributed my hard-earned cash to a periodical whoch wants to purge its enemies from the face of the earth. By Jove--what a close call!


Does it get lonely in your paranoid, hostile world? Do you read, or just react?

I'm sure you'll flame me for this post, as you do anyone else who disagrees with you. You'll dodge the question, as you usually do (and as you have done with Mr. Catsam's points, above). You'll resort to stereotypical slanders (David Corn the "Stalinist"), and failing to find reason there, you'll sink into the usual ad hominem "blather" (your word, not mine) that you've displayed in every comment by you I've read on this site.

You'll lump me in with the other (apparently quite numerous) "Stalinist" academics who *dare* to take issue with you. But I'll let you know I'm an ex-Marine. So if you want to call me un-American, I'll gladly discuss that with you, as opposed to the easy and consequence-less internet posting, where you seem so brave. Patriotism does so much better with free inquiry and an open mind, rather than blindly and dogmatically clinging to a set of assumptions that never characterized this country.

So go re-read (or read for the first time) your Constitution, the Bill of Rights (even "Article XV"!), the writings of Washington, Jefferson, and Madison--and try to open your mind for a change, instead of reacting in your usual close-minded, knee-jerk fashion.

Call me what you want, respond how you want. Judging by the tenor of your above posts, and your refusal to engage in any argument more serious than superficial, stereotype-based name calling, whatever you write won't even be worth a response. I apprently don't have as much spare time on my hands as you do.

Bill Heuisler - 3/4/2004

This is becoming tiresome. Three questions were asked. None were answered. The questions involved the Lichtman article and his imputation of racial discrimination by Republican partisans for Bush. Racism was charged, my response was to point out the obvious flaws in this slur. Your response to my points was to avoid them. typical.
Your response was to scorn my dislike of the racial slur without addressing the questions about voter IDs and poll officials. Then - typically - you changed the subject.

The Nation is identified as a far-Left and a Stalinist Magazine; David Corn is its editor. He is also one of the most anti-US American writers and commentators I've ever read and heard. Instead of defending him by slamming me, please produce one article the snide little twit has ever written in praise of, celebration of, or uncritical of an American foreign policy or institutions that didn't involve kissing up to Fidel Castro or the tyrant of North Korea or the tyrants of Red China.
Cite the man's words or stop the crocodile tears.

As to cherry-picking from Corn's refutation of Safire, I notice you again resort to avoidance in response to my specific arguments. Derek, holding an opinion doesn't cut it, try defending your opinions. Try explaining how the captured Al Qaeda CD not mentioning Saddam - after his capture - in any way disproves Iraq-Al Qaeda connections. Try defending Allan Lichtman's premise that Democrat poll workers and election officials threw out unidentified black votes, thereby implicating the GOP.

Try critical thought instead of critical blather.

Derek Charles Catsam - 3/4/2004

Bill --
I'm tired of correcting you on the 1964 Civil Rights Act, among other things. Yes, there was democratic opposition in the South but there were also more Democratic yes votes than Reopublican. I am going to assume you have a learning disability if I have to keep pointing out the difference between southern Democrats and northern ones, between conservative Democrats and liberal ones. As for the 1964 CRA stemming from Eisenhower, that is simply factually not true, period, as the 1964 Acts genesis was from Kennedy's planned proposal in the wake of Birmingham. And let's not begin to paint Eisenhower even as the hero of the 1957 Act, tepid and toothless though that one was.
Meanwhile you show a clear inability to read my posts for what they say, instead going for what you think they say. It shows a remarkable lack of sophistication to always attack Democrats, whose flaws I have long pointed out when it comes to race but to deny any GOP flaws, and then pretend you are making some sort of grand point against me. You continue this silly straw man building and bashing. As for the GOP, let's keep in mind that at least as early as McKinley there were many in the party who explicitly advocated abandoning the black vote. Pardon the chhoice of words, but your consistent oversimplification of the history of race in America reveals partisanship and it reveals ignorance, not to mention simplicity.
Meanwhile you ate least try to act grown up in your second post about Corn. But in your first post you called him, I do believe, AntiAmerican and Stalinist. It is this unwarranted level of viciousness that poisons the well. No more whining from you if some nimrod calls Bush a Hitlerite (or conservatives racist)-- you've established that such absurdities are acceptable.
Meanwhile at what point did I say David Corn was right about everything. I pointed to one specific argument, and you went on a (libelous) hysterical, hyperbolic ad hominem rant. Then you try to cherry pick from his piece which in turn is fairly thorough in its use of the Times. The fact is, your citation of the Safire pisce may be a small piece of evidence but it does not prove what you say that it proves. Call people all the names that you want, which just goes to show how weak your actual case is.
Wait, doesn't Safire write for the Times? I agree with you then. Their reliability has been pretty shoddy of late. That you pick and choose to relay on them when they volster your case but nto when they don't reveals the sort of hypocritical partisanship for which you have proven quite deft.

John H. Lederer - 3/4/2004

Mr. Green is right to point out the service done. We should take steps. Would disqualifying Democrats from being election supervisors be appropiate since apparently they were the ones responsible for the coup?

Perhaps we should simply call the elections on the morning of election day based on our understanding of how we think people intend to vote to achieve an unbiased result, since the process of voting seems so subject to bias? (bonus: we would save on gasoline)

Richard Henry Morgan - 3/3/2004

I'm still trying to figure out how ballots by blacks, that were overwhelmingly machine-read, can be tossed out in a discriminating manner. Help me out here.

Michael Green - 3/3/2004

All of us owe Allan Lichtman a debt of gratitude for presenting facts in the face of Republican rewriting of the past and present to justify what was tantamount to a coup. Perhaps it truly is a tribute to our Constitution and our country that we survived a stolen election. Perhaps it is a sign of what is wrong with them that too many cannot admit it.

Bill Heuisler - 3/3/2004

I didn't bother refuting the man whose book calls the President a liar and whose invective seems always reserved for his own country because his Nation article is full of nothing but sneers and gaping holes. In his nyah, nyah style he takes the word of terrorists over heads of state, twists George Tenet's testimony and falls flat when his own words inadvertantly trap him.

A few examples should suffice:
Corn makes much of post war information not being casus belli because it was post war, but then asserts the captured CD doesn't show Iraq/Al Qaeda collaboration because it doesn't mention Hussein. Corn apparently forgot Saddam Hussein had been captured prior to the interception of the CD. Why request help from a man in American custody? Also, his assertions of a disconnect between the Taliban and Al Qaeda and his assertions of a disconnect between Al Qaeda and Baghdad are spurious and rest on conjecture. To assert Taliban would not work with or support Al Qaeda - or wouldn't work with Hussein - is unreasonable and unsupported. Hussein allowed the Salman Pak training camp less than fifty miles from Baghdad. The camp was used to train Al Qaeda and was staffed by Mukhabarat. This was testimony by former CIA Director Woolsey and various defectors in Senate hearings.

And why this effort from the Left to sever Al Qaeda from Taliban? It would be like trying to sever Pete Licavoli from Joe Bonnanno because they used to live in different Tucson neighborhoods and were never seen at the same restaurants. Last, where's the evidence for Afganistan if there's none for Iraq. And I really appreciate you and Corn quoting from the NYT to prove points. The NYT has not proved itself to be reliable lately. But then, neither has The Nation.

Bill Heuisler - 3/3/2004

"macro from the micro"? This is supposedly your field. You should know this stuff. I'm tired of reminding you that today's PC remarks and voting patterns have very little to do with race and much to do with politics.

The Republican Party was formed over the issue of slavery and Republican votes carried the Civil Rights legislation in the Sixties over the defiant no votes of over half the Democrats in Congress - legislation that was begun in The Eisenhower Administration. The Republican Party lost the black vote during FDR for reasons I cannot fathom and JFK became an icon of the Civil Rights Movement because of his actions to assist MLK. Mention of the surpression of Civil Rights for blacks during FDR is hardly ever heard and the scurrilous wire taps and investigations of MLK under RFK are also seldom mentioned. We've discussed Robert Byrd, JW Fulbright and Al Gore Sr, but you and others - this article - never seem able to raise your sights above the racial slur when shooting at the GOP.

Derek Charles Catsam - 3/3/2004

Bill --
Do you have stock in Mendel's law? You keep citing it as if it were somehow germane. Is it a number of citiations, or simply that you can demonstarte that you cite it. leave inapt and clumsy theorizing to the social scientists.
Ahh, there you go -- this is why sometimes you are not worth arguing with, Bill. You instantly resort to the ad hominem against Corn. Anti-American Stalinist views? Please. You are someone who rightly gets pissed when someone equates the president with Hitler. Show the left the same courtesy. meanwhile none of what you said actually engages Corn's fisking of the safire piece using other NYT articles, not material he made up out of whole cloth. Easier just to name call, though, huh, Bill, than to engage an argument from a different wing of the political spectrum. It's sheer demogoguery, and not especially savvy at that.
Meanwhile there is that old reading comp thing. A vaguely literate retarded monkey would clearly see from my post that I rejected the Gore/Berry formulation of simply cherry picking counties that would presumably push votes in their favor. So you are heroically making an argument against something I never said. Kudos.
Meanwhile my argument about the GOP and race takes the argument to the macro from the micro -- from the specific point to larger questions about the Republican party's sometimes uneasy relationship with race.

John H. Lederer - 3/3/2004

" know that the GOP and more to the point, a partcular brand of conservatism, has a cross to bear when it comes to race relations."

Bad choice of metaphor. Those crosses involved in race relations were burned by Democrats. It was not Democratic politicians accompanying the civil rights marchers -- the Democrats were holding the dogs.

And it sure, historically, has not been Republicans denying people the right to vote because of race. It was Democrats-- you know, the party that had the strongest opposition to the Civil Rights bill.

Richard Henry Morgan - 3/3/2004

I disagree that the post-election analysis said Gore would win. In fact, if my memory serves me right, the consortium did a number of different scenarios, driven by different assumptions on what counted as a vote. Only one scenario had Gore winning. And even that was contested by Mickey Kaus, and others, who said the total did not include votes rehabilitated by a federal judge, but never included in the count of even the newspapers.

Actually, the USSC made up the deadline from the Florida Supreme Court's own opinion. Admittedly, the USSC's equal protection rationale went beyond anything they had ever done before. Then again, even the Florida Appeals Court judge Terry Lewis said the Florida Supreme Court just made up the law. A lot of activism all around. My money says that Dershowitz would have praised the logical extension of equal protection doctrine, had circumstances been reversed.

As for Mary Berry, I remember watching an interview of her once, in NY, where she decried the fact that taxis discriminated against blacks, and called it a case of white racism. When it was pointed out that black taxi drivers did the same thing, she claimed without pause or evidence, that that just demonstrated how some blacks had taken on the master's racist attitudes.

I wasn't really shocked because I've followed Berry for some time and she is, to put it bluntly, a hack. She proved this by deliberately misreading the law to allow her to keep one of her cronies on the commission. She's an embarrassment to civil rights, not a champion.

Bill Heuisler - 3/3/2004

You wrote, "Further, all of the voting officials in contested areas were not democrats." clumsily avoiding the issue again. The two Counties in the descrimination-sights of the Berry Commission were controlled by Democrats. Answer the original question: why would these Democrats purge Gore voters?

Your, "very possibility that the GOP or conservatives might ever have had any problems with race" both makes and misses the point. The GOP did not control the voter purge, the design & manufacture of ballots or the relatively flawless primaries. The GOP was, however, accused of racism by Mr. Lichtman and others.

Mendel's Law of Independent Assortment is quite relevant here. Peas do not become beans just because a neighboring farmer wishes. Berry's commission found no intimidation. Cite some if you can. Safire's article used evidence of WMD and I passed it on. Consider Mendel's Quantitative Investigation of Single Characters before you throw Corn into the act. His anti-American Stalinist views don't amount to a hill of beans.

Derek Charles Catsam - 3/3/2004

Actually, Bill what i was lecturing you about, if you actually read and understood my post (and it seems that in at least one post in every exchange we have your reading comprehension skills fly out the window) is your excessive defensiveness about the very possibility that the GOP or conservatives might ever have had any problems with race. Further, all of the voting officials in contested areas were not democrats. Simplistic reductionism might be good for some. It doesn't hold water with me. Finally, let us keep in mind -- Gore surely acted out of pure politics. However the most thorough post-election analysis has been quite clear -- a recount not of selected counties (Gore, screw up on strategic issues? I'm shocked. Shocked!) but of the entire state would have shifted the election to Gore. Too bad those conservative activist judges made up a deadline out of whole cloth. We might have been able to see if this would have been the case. I also find it funny that you would resort to Berry's commission as the final word. (A commission that was rather clear that there were civil rights violations) I guess you'll take a narrow, selective, and misconstrued reading of the opposition when it bolsters your argument. Good work, Rush.
By the way -- there is no forum right now for this, but you might want to check out David Corn's Nation piece aboput the flaws in the Safire argument you cited to me a while back about the messenger with the cd-rom that supposedly made clear the links to Iraq and 9-11. he makes a pretty devastating case as to why that argument is bunk. No doubt, be leery of the Nation, but Corn tends to do good work, and his argument, using news articles in the Times, refutes pretty soundly Safire's case.

Bill Heuisler - 3/2/2004

Aren't you just a little uncomfortable accusing me of overreacting? Lichtman's first paragraph uses the term fiasco and uses the terms black and white in his initial premise. Should I argue against Mendel's Law? Perhaps you would prefer I wax poetic against the Voter's Rights Act. When my Party is accused of stealing an election - the accusers repeating dysfunctional logic - it's appropriate to point out the people who adopted the system, ran it, monitored it and enforced it were Democrats supposedly favoring Gore. Lichtman brought up race, Derek. Have you scolded him for his dire and absurd protests?

Also, you wrote, "in Florida where it is demonstrably true that some people were intimidated, that some people were purged from voter rolls improperly, and so forth. I see it is representative of a larger issue with race that we still need to be aware of." But Berry's Commission found there was no actual intimidation, only rumors. And purged improperly by whom? Lichtman implies race was the reason and fails to answer why Democrat/minority precinct and County officials would purge Gore voters. You also fail to address that key issue and only concentrate on lecturing me about inappropriate reaction to criticism.

BTW Mendel's Law is overly simplistic and doesn't take cultural deprivation into account for bad seeds. Better?

Richard Henry Morgan - 3/2/2004

I'd say it's not been demonstrated to be true that people were intimidated. But yes, people were purged from voter rolls improperly, and many more purged properly (the whole thing stemmed from a recent Miami mayoral race where the dead voted). Moreover, people who did not have a legal vote also voted (to the tune of 75% Democrat, by calculation of the Miami Herald) -- and have yet to be prosecuted. Interestingly, most of the purging occurred in Democrat controlled counties. That occurred because, well, the Secretary of State had no authority to purge rolls, only to recommend names for purging by county election boards. Those to be purged were sent notices beforehand, so they could appeal -- the great majority either not bothering to respond, or having moved without notice. It was a mess, to be sure, but then it is always a mess to a greater or lesser extent. Up through 2000, Florida had no allowance for provisional ballots. We need to work on the problems, and we need a non-partisan US Civil Rights Commission -- which do not have.

Derek Charles Catsam - 3/2/2004

Bill --
You protest too much. Indeed, whenever race is brought up you protest to such a dire and at times absurd extent that the only conclusion I can draw is that you know that the GOP and more to the point, a partcular brand of conservatism, has a cross to bear when it comes to race relations. I say this because this is not about the GOP per se -- it is about what happened on the ground in Florida where it is demonstrably true that some people were intimidated, that some people were purged from voter rolls improperly, and so forth. I see it is representative of a larger issue with race that we still need to be aware of. You automatically jump off the deep end and claim it is an indictment of the GOP. Funny, but you raised the issue. Feelin' guilty, Bill? This is not a Republican and democrat issue so much as an issue of equal access that in 2000 happened to effect Republicans and Democrats. Let's take a larger view here -- when people are kept from voting or when the system breaks down so that those votes don't count, that is a problem. let's keep in mind that both parties prepared for something remarkably similar to happen in 200 but with just the opposite result -- I found it interesting how both parties truned an inherently unpartisan event into one where people's opinions so conveniently broke down along party lines even though the parties themselves were preparing for precisely the opposite eventuality to happen. Indeed, in many ways 2000 was incredibly bad for necessary voting reforms, because it all occres under the refracted light of the 2000 debacle ather than as some sort of bipartisan coming together to rectify wrongs that could simply help the process.
Now about representation for the tax paying citizens of Washington DC . . .

Bill Heuisler - 3/2/2004

The whole point is what, "allegedly happened in Florida to hundreds of people". That's the HNN subject here.

You say, "the question of sign in sheets is a bit superfluous if someone who is black walks up to a table."
Right, but only if the Civil Rights Commission is at the actual polls on election day with a camera, or witnesses with photographic memories testify under oath about race. Otherwise how can Bush/Republican critics even allege racial discrimination? Your comment, "silly but how did they know what race people were canard." ignores simple logic in the face of a very nasty accusation of racial bias by a bunch of sore losers. Guesswork cannot replace actual evidence, but is evidently sufficient for Democrat accusations of racism.

You write, "And of course there are areas that are predominantly minority, and purging even a small percentage of those voters is tantamount to purging minority votes." Okay. Explain problem-free primaries. And who does the purging in Democrat-controlled, minority-controlled County Divisions of elections? It's certainly relevant who does the purging. Mr. Lichtman ignores this obvious fact in his article - his rush to "question".

Finally, Derek, you muddy the whole issue by writing:
"Certainly no one is going to deny that there were allegations of racial shenanigans in the 2000 election?"
Allegations? Allegations are cheap; anybody can allege.
But I deny racial shenanigans during the 2000 election.
And I accuse phony statisticians and Democrat talking points and anti-democratic sore losers of fomenting racial hatreds in order to serve partisan interests. Also I accuse people like Mr. Lichtman of stirring hatreds and using phony stats to alarm and scandalize minorities by undermining their confidence in the democratic process.

This continuous disgusting accusation of Republican racism is the real transgression, and I'm a little surprised you don't see it that way.

Richard Henry Morgan - 3/2/2004

The question is not how did the poll workers know what race they were, but where (if anywhere) was their race recorded such as to provide a data set for later analysis by the US Civil Rights Commission. There were certainly allegations of racial shenanigans in the 2000 election, including a brief court order in Missouri to extend polling hours in predominantly minority areas (which was quickly vacated by a higher court). The question here is whether the allegations can be shown to have substance, using the data sets and modes of analysis used by the US Civil Rights Commission. To be careful, Allan isn't saying the voters were purged, but their ballots discarded for whatever reason -- and he's careful not to point the finger at anyone, based on the evidence.

Derek Charles Catsam - 3/2/2004

There are of course two other possibilities, both of which allegedly happened in Florida to hundreds of people -- the question of sign in sheets is a bit superfluous if someone who is black walks up to a table. In other words, let's let go of this silly "but how did they know what race people were" canard. And of course there are areas that are predominantly minority, and purging even a small percentage of those voters is tantamount to purging minority votes.
Certainly no one is going to deny that there were allegations of racial shenanigans in the 2000 election?

Richard Henry Morgan - 3/2/2004

Ralph, after l'affaire Bellesiles, I don't think you want to attach too much weight to the fact that law reviews aren't peer-reviewed (though JLS, not being a law review, but a social science review, of sorts, is peer-reviewed). When a law review produces something as bad as Bellesiles' 1996 article, and gives it an award on top of it all, then perhaps such concerns about lack of peer review in law reviews would be justified. I would just note that Don Higginbotham, in the Washington seminar (and as a point of pride), said professors sent their grad assistants to the stacks to check footnotes. Grad assistants will be delighted to know they are now considered "peers", and will undoubtedly eagerly await the commensurate increase in their pay.

BTW, it seems to me that trying to decide these issues by way of the data sets you have access to is something akin to trying to fix a Swiss watch with a sledgehammer.

Richard Henry Morgan - 3/2/2004

That's just weird. I live in Florida, have voted in every election, and my sign-in sheets don't carry racial information. Now I'm not sure of other areas in Florida. Perhaps there are some counties that still qualify for supervision under the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts, where such data is collected. But I can assure you its never been kept where I vote.

Secondly, I can't see where you get income information for your control variables. I once worked for the Census Bureau, and I know that it is a matter of law that income and other individuating information is aggregated at such a level as to preclude any invasion of privacy. It would seem that to disaggregate, you would have to do so randomly (by assumption), when in fact there may be an income effect hidden within the data and lost by randomizing. In fact, the income effect may even vary by ethnic group, which of course runs counter to the very purpose of having it as a control variable.

The same objections hold for literacy rates. There are no individuating measures of literacy in the data bases, so you must be using aggregate data. This brings up another objection. Literacy in what? Consider Asian-Americans. A larger proportion of them are within the first generation of immigration, and qualify for native-language ballots. Measures of literacy in English wouldn't capture this. An example is the subject SAT's required by the University of California system. UC went to this in order to depress Asian-American enrolment, and boost black and hispanic enrolment. But they also allowed native language subject SAT's, with the result that the proportion of Asian-Americans admitted to UC (already disproportionately high) climbed even higher. You compare blacks and whites. I would venture that Asian-American bad ballot rates, even after controls, are lower than that for whites. If so, is that evidence for discrimination against whites?

Other variables not controlled for. The ratio of poll workers and machines to voters, the differential competence of the poll workers, the speed with which the voters voted (by race), and differential competence of voters. In Palm Beach for instance, the competence of voters was compromised by miseducation -- Democrat party workers gave the elderly in retirement communities faulty instructions for filling in ballots. What do we know about voter education programs in minority areas, and their effects on voter competence? Last interim election, the black supervisor of elections in (I believe) Dade was relieved, as many poll workers (you guessed it -- in disproportionately black areas) failed to show up for duty.

There seem a variety of possibilities.

1. black ballots are treated discriminately

2. black voters are treated discriminately

3. black voters vote discriminately

4. various combinations of above

Your models don't seem to be able to tease out these different possibilities. We live in an era that celebrates "multiculturalism". Yet your control variables don't capture cultural differences -- in fact, your model assumes there are none.

Bill Heuisler - 3/2/2004

Patronizing me doesn't answer my questions. Democrat poll workers and precinct workers and vote counters tossed out all those black votes, right? The question is, why? The second question is, why blame the Republicans? Third question. Why not answer the first two questions?

The fourth question - which you attempted to impugn with some sort of racism - is how can you tell which voter is black? Does statistical analysis read their fingerprints? Or can you tell by their name what the race of a voter was? Or do you need to check a list some Democrat poll worker wrote? And since ballots have no IDs attached, how do you match them up with your disenfranchised voters?

Amendment XV of the Constitution deals with the rights of citizens of the US to vote regardless of race, color etc. I'm surprised you didn't know. And, by the way, you don't have an exclusive franchise on racial matters in the Florida vote, so stop being didactic about something you obviously don't understand - an agenda driven mission.
"What really happened" in Florida's election, indeed. Bush won. Get over it.
Bill Heuisler

John H. Lederer - 3/1/2004

Are you suggesting a third factor?

Seems to me we have three possibilities:

1. Election officials did something to cause black votes to be improperly disqualified.

You seem to be unwilling to accept this on the basis of motive -- the election officials were democrats, presumably many were black.

2. Something about Blacks (education, familiarity with voting machines, whatever) caused Blacks to spoil a disproportionate share of their ballots

You seem to deny this.

3. Some unknown caused the result.

Are you suggesting an unknown? Can you suggest some possibilities or is it "unknown and unsuspected"

Richard Henry Morgan - 3/1/2004

You conclude that Gore would have won based on comparison of the gross numbers and gross disparities by race. You then concede that disparities (other than gross disparities) persist after controlling for confounding variables. I take it the two disparities are not equal -- yet you quote only the gross disparities, and generate 40,000 net Gore votes by reference to the original gross disparities. Why is that? Why don't you quote the disparities post-control for confounding variables? And why aren't those same disparities, rather than the gross disparities, the basis for your calculation of net Gore votes?

You seem also differentially exercised about "disenfranchisement" rates. Apparently, the disenfranchisement of non-blacks are of little concern, just the greater rate for blacks (strange, since I thought it was the US Civil Rights Commission, not the Black Civil Rights Commission, though anybody who has seen Mary Frances Berry in action could easily make that mistake). You use the expression "major racial disparities persist". I'm unfamiliar with this term "major" from my classes in statistics in a department that featured such names as Ralph Bradley and Wade Savage. Could you point me to the text in a statistics manual where "major" is defined? I'm curious since, to beat a dead horse, you don't quote the disparities that are post-control for confounding variables. I also note you don't control for differential gender distribution and unemployment rates.

What would impress me is a study, say, within majority Democrat counties, that differentially distributed voting machines with higher faulty ballot rates to disproportionately black precincts. Imagine my surprise if such studies were never conducted by Berry.

I'd like to see the final numbers on disparities when all confounding variables are controlled for, and then see if they are statistically significant. That should concern all people.

It's probably a good thing you don't "point the finger" based on the gross disparities. Too bad you apparently calculated the net Gore votes using those gross disparities.

What disturbs me also is that the study doesn't examine voter behaviour other than the production of a ballot. I've never turned in a ballot without checking all the chads first (as I'm instructed to do). I've never walked out of a voting location without casting a fully executed ballot. Are there studies of differential voter behaviour other than the simple production of a ballot?

Our county, for instance, went to local scantron machines that keep both a hard copy, and keep a running count for each race -- for quick data transfer when counting. We switched two elections before the 2000 election, at a cost to us (if I rememebr right) of several million dollars. Palm Beach County, largely Democrat with Democrat county commissioners, rejected their own election officer's request for new machines. Now, as a reward for their irresponsibility, the state and federal governments are throwing my taxdollars at the problem (after my other tax dollars bought my own county new machines). And people wonder how it is that the government incentivizes irresponsibility.

Allan Lichtman - 3/1/2004


Your comments are off-base on many levels. My conclusions were not partisan. To the contrary as stated in the blog "I pointed no fingers of blame at supervisors or any other officials, but called for studies to determine the causes of disparate treatment of black voters in Florida." Comments like your's that the disenfranchisement "seemed unworthy of merit" keeps such studies from ever being conducted.

Second, you confuse ballots with sign-in sheets. A sign-in sheet simply indicates that a voter showed up at the precinct. It does not violate the law by recording any votes. Such sign-ins are routinely kept in Florida and other states with racial IDs. Thus the racial composition of the precincts can be compiled and statistical analysis colnducted. Indeed, you can purchase from the state a CD with the sign-in data for each precinct. My analysis relies on this data not on "anecdatoal evidence." By the way, what in the world is "Article XV of the Bill of Rights?"

Bill Heuisler - 3/1/2004

Mr. Lichtman,
This issue is subject to partisan conclusions because most rely on questionable datum.

Two questions about your article:
1) Since your fourth paragraph's "electoral officials" were Democrats and the bulk of questioned precincts were Democrat controlled, why would they sabotage Al Gore? Precinct politicians are meticulous about acknowledgement and prerogatives; glaring political incompetance by so many politicians is highly improbable. The ballots were designed by Democrats and had been used in a primary just months before with few problems. In an apparent rush to condemn, you skim this matter in paras 6 & 7, but never explain why so many local Democrat officials helped W.

2) The sixth paragraph cites, "voter sign-in sheets with racial identifications..." as data used to show racial bias by poll officials. I've been involved in politics for 35 years and have never encountered a sign-in sheet with racial IDs. In fact, such sign-in sheets would tend to violate Article XV of the Bill of Rights. Where was this racial information listed? The Florida Attorney General would probably be interested. And, if this racial info isn't listed anywhere, anecdotal evidence dredged from precinct worker's memories should be very suspect.

The racial premise cynically (in my opinion) used to stir up Democrat resentment about the 2000 election has always seemed unworthy of merit due to both considerations.
Bill Heuisler

Allan Lichtman - 2/28/2004

The JLS is peer reviewed. As for Lott's absurd claims about black Republicans, as indicated in my blog and demonstrated statistically in my JLS article, the mean rejection rate for ballots cast by blacks was about 10 percent, not 1 percent (it was 11 percent in 90%+ black precincts across the state). Therefore, Lott's claim would produce a clearly impossible rejection rate of 540 percent to 660 percent for ballots cast by black Republicans.

A. Lichtman

Ralph E. Luker - 2/28/2004

Is the Journal of Legal Studies a law journal? My understanding is that law journals are not peer reviewed, but that publication is determined by law school students.

Tim Lambert - 2/27/2004

Lott's claims are ridiculous, but he doesn't say that the rejection rate for black Republicans was 540 to 660 percent. Apparently the rejection rate for blacks was really only 1%, so, according to Lott, the rejection rate for black Republicans was a mere 50%. Obviously spurious, but not mathematically impossible.
It was actually published in the Journal of Legal Studies, so there is something seriously wrong with the refereeing process.