Fun_People Archive
29 Nov
Broward County: A Report from the Front

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From: Peter Langston <psl>
Date: Wed, 29 Nov 100 09:46:06 -0800
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Subject: Broward County: A Report from the Front

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Forwarded-by: Peter Coyote

 Ron Albert
 Broward County Board of Commissioners
 Office of Internal Audit
 115 S. Andrews Ave. #520
 Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33301
 954 357-5967 (fax 954 357-7314)

 "Ron Albert" <> 11/19/2000 5:34:49 PM

 To my relatives, friends, and colleagues:

 Yesterday, I was a part of history.   My wife Annie and I volunteered to
 take part in the manual recount of the presidential ballots in Broward
 County, Florida.   I know that many of you, especially those of you from
 other parts of the country, have been given a very jaded picture of this
 process.  I want to share our experience with you and attempt to set the
 record straight.

 The EOC (Emergency Operations Center) was under intense security.  You
 even had to sign in and out to go to the restroom.  Each team of counters
 consisted of two county employees (in our case it was me and Annie) and
 an observer from each major party, one Democrat and one Republican.  The
 room was FILLED with supervisors and floor personnel from both parties
 also.  The media presence was everywhere as well.  During the lengthy
 day, we counted two entire precincts.  The process was as follows:

 We received a box of ballots for that precinct from an employee of the
 Supervisor of Elections.  Until that point, no one was allowed to touch
 the boxes of ballots, and that was under the scrutiny of the Broward
 Sheriffs Office (BSO).  Neither party observer was permitted to touch
 the ballots.  Only Annie and I on our team were allowed to touch them.
 Our sequence went something like this:  I would pick up a ballot and scan
 the column for the presidential vote to determine whether a 2 was punched
 (Bush), a 3 was punched (Gore), or 4 through 11 (the other 8 candidates).
 In some cases, there were more than one punch in that column and those
 were placed in a pile marked "Over punched".  In other cases, nothing
 was punched in that column and those were placed in a pile marked "Under
 punched."  As I announced to our team which one was punched, I would then
 show it to the Democratic observer who was literally attached to me at
 the hip.  He or she would look at the front of the card and then I'd turn
 it around so the back could also be carefully observed.  Next, I'd pass
 the ballot to Annie and she would repeat the process with the Republican
 observer.  After all four of us looked at the ballot, it was placed in
 a pile marked "2 Bush", "3 Gore", or "4-11 Other".  On occasion, one of
 the observers would challenge the ballot because of a hanging chad, a
 pregnant chad, or some other irregularity. These ballots were placed in
 the final pile marked "Challenges".  Once all of  the ballots had been
 processed, we would then count each pile.  I did the counting for our
 team, and the ballots were separated into piles of 25.  These were held
 up to the light for all of us to check to make sure that we could see
 through the hole punched for that candidate, ensuring that only Gore
 votes were placed in his pile, only Bush votes were placed in his pile,
 etc.  I then crisscrossed each group of 25 until we had them all counted.
 Then, I totaled up the groups of 25 and came up with a count for that
 candidate.  This was agreed to by all four of us and then it was logged
 on a summary sheet for that precinct.

 In each of the two precincts that we counted, our counts exactly matched
 what the Republican observers had recorded on their clipboard.  When we
 were done, an election official came over to collect our ballots in boxes
 once again and to return them to the room in which they were stored (which
 was under lock and key with security supplied by BSO officers).  The room
 is glass encased, so anyone in the main "war room" could see into that
 room.  The media spent the entire day in the media room, another glass
 encased room, and they had the ability to observe every single counting
 team in the room on a constant basis.  This was also true of the parties'
 supervisors and floor people who walked around the room all day.  About
 every hour, one group of media people were allowed into our room to
 videotape the proceedings.  You weren't allowed to have anything on the
 tables like pens or any sharp object that could possibly be used to punch
 a hole in the ballot.  If you needed to stand up, you had to raise your
 hand and an election official had to come over to "supervise" that
 process.  When we broke for lunch (supplied by the county), BSO officers
 cordoned off the entire area and stood guard during our 30-minute gourmet
 lunch of sandwiches.  What I'm trying to portray is that there was not
 a single chance for any kind of fraudulent  activities or underhanded
 stuff.  This was a very well controlled process and it was done in a most
 professional manner.  Following the collection of our counts, each
 precinct's results were to be compared to the initial machine count.  In
 the case of discrepancies, those were resolved, and it is my belief that
 the hand count would prevail.  Anyone in his right mind would have to
 recognize that this process was way more accurate than any machine could
 ever hope to be.

 When we left the EOC, we had a very strong feeling of pride and patriotism
 for having done an important service to our country, and we felt very
 good that it had been done fairly, honestly, and professionally.  Imagine
 our anger when we heard on the news that one of the major parties was
 claiming that the entire manual count was tainted by blatant fraud.  In
 the span of three seconds, they had diminished all that we (and hundreds
 of others) had done.  Other than an attempt to "save face" just in case
 the manual count did manage to turn up enough missing votes to send the
 election to Mr.  Gore, I can't imagine why Mr. Bush's representatives
 would make such false allegations.  Based on the early results of this
 process in Broward and Palm Beach Counties, it is unlikely that Mr. Gore
 will gain enough votes to win the state.  But, I think it was important
 to go through this process, and I am proud that my wife and I were able
 to take part in this historical event. I wish I had the e-mail addresses
 for many more acquaintances, but I don't -- so, please feel free to
 forward this to whomever you think might be interested in hearing the
 real facts.  Please remember that if you wish to reply to me, don't impose
 on the rest of the people on my list by doing a "reply to all" -- please
 make sure your replies are just sent to me.

 Thanks for listening.       -- Ron

 Ron Albert
 527 Water Point
 Weston, Florida 33326
 954 389-0750 (voice)
 954 389-0749 (fax/modem)

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