Article in Toronto Star this morning on election tomfoolery in Florida happening yet again....who will do Jeb Bush these favours when he runs in 2008?
Florida voters fearing déjà vu
Flaws could mar presidential race
Roadblocks, fraud case among issues
MIAMI—It's happening again.
Four years after Florida became a national embarrassment for its chaotic voting system, charges of intimidation, disenfranchisement and potential irregularities are swirling across a state which again could determine the country's next president.
Some see a pattern that leads all the way to the door of Governor Jeb Bush. His brother, George W., needed this state to win the White House in 2000 and could need it again Nov. 2.
This year's Florida presidential vote will face unprecedented scrutiny from both U.S. and international observers, but even in the face of such attention, activists and interest groups want answers they can't get from their state legislators.
"One thing we're doing is trying to shed some light on this, because when you do, it's like cockroaches, they have to scatter," said Thomasina Williams, a Miami lawyer and voting rights activist.
In no particular order, they'd like to know why:
Florida law enforcement officers showed up at the doors of elderly African-American voters in Orlando, perhaps the key battleground in this swing state, seeking evidence of voter fraud from bewildered residents.
Ezzie Thomas, a well-known 73-year-old resident of the city — an African-American — is under investigation in that case after the probe had once been closed and has now been reopened in the run-up to the vote.
Police in Jacksonville set up roadblocks in predominantly African-American districts on a primary voting day in August. Was it really to search for lapsed drivers' licences and vehicle registrations, or was it something more sinister? Did they really not know, as they said, that it was voting day?
How, after the scandal of 2000 — when it was revealed that a disproportionate number of blacks were wrongly identified as felons and prevented from voting — did a similar, erroneously bloated list show up again this year. Why were there so many errors when it came to blacks, who vote overwhelmingly Democrat, but not Hispanics, who back President Bush in this state?
"There is a pattern here," said Greg Bush, a political scientist at the University of Miami (and no relation to the governor and president).
"This is very serious business, the second time around, and worthy of a national investigation. It is a reflection of the incredibly partisan nature of the electoral system in the state of Florida."