Constitutional Issues:  Part III: The “Pretty” Butterfly Ballot, “Pretty” Again


(1)  A Curious Thing, a “Butterfly Ballot”


A curious thing happened in 2000, just before the presidential election.  An incompetent election supervisor in Palm Beach County, Florida designed a “butterfly ballot.”  Thinking that the ballot “looked pretty,” she inadvertently created a clearly illegal ballot according to Florida law.  Never before had such a “pretty” butterfly ballot been designed in any other state.  Other “butterfly” designs merely placed two slightly smaller pages side by side in order to save space.  This “beautiful creation” staggered the names of candidates, one on the left then one on the right, one candidate’s check off box appearing on the right of his name, the next candidate’s box on the left.



(2) Who Cares About Florida Law, Anyway?

Unfortunately, Florida law was clear on this subject.  The candidate’s check off box must appear to the right of his or her name.  This was wisely mandated to avoid confusion with regard to associated candidates, usually listed underneath one another with a space underneath the first pair separating them from the next pair of associated, opposing candidates.  Unfortunately some thirty thousand or so voters accidentally voted for the wrong candidate.  To make the whole situation even worse, according to one complaint after another, when voters pointed out to poll workers that they were not sure they had voted as they had intended, they were not allowed to review their ballot with a poll worker.  The problem was never officially visited that November day in 2000.


(3) Ever Since More Dead People in Chicago Cemeteries Voted For Kennedy Than For Nixon, Only Republican Votes Can Be Recounted

In the aftermath of “Junior’s” supposed election, the county and state election supervisors realized the error and questions arose as to (1) Whether the ballots should be counted and (2) Whether voters in Palm Beach County ought to be able recast their votes?  At first, it seemed obvious that one of these “solutions” would have to be accepted, but someone in the Supreme Court’s officialdom apparently declared that the case would never be heard by the Court, because the illegal ballots were actually legal.  Their reasoning was based on the fact that in their opinion, in a federal election, federal ballot regulations take precedence over state regulations.  Since federal ballot regulations do not specify on which side of the candidate’s name one must place the check off box, the pretty butterfly ballot was “pretty” again.  The fact that 30,000 voters were inadvertently deprived of their intended vote was as academic as was the fact that Florida’s mandatory recount was somehow not really “mandatory” according to the Supreme Court’s discussion with “a higher power.”


(4) Jeb, Kate, and Uncle Tom, Strange Partners in Hate Crime

After the revelation of the butterfly ballot fiasco and the Supreme Court’s meeting with Karl Rove, John Roberts and other “unbiased authorities,” it was no surprise to find out that with the permission of the Florida Republican Legislature, Governor Jeb Bush and Katherine Harris had happily and illegally transferred thousands of innocent voters’ names to lists of matching felons’ names in order to keep them from voting.  Most of the names, of course, belonged to African Americans.  This quite obvious “hate crime” was never followed up by President Clinton’s useless acting Attorney General nor by the riff-raff eventually appointed by Junior Bush.


(5) The Constitution Fights Back

Now, thirty some states with Republican legislatures are trying to prevent minorities and Medicare/ Social Security recipients from registering and/ or voting, most by making it difficult to obtain a “voter ID.”  Fortunately, “federal election law takes precedence over state law in a federal election,” as the 2000 Supreme Court official reminded us.  Apparently, federal election laws do not require photo ID’s, so  I would assume that lucky voters who are already registered in those Republican strongholds will still be able to vote, no matter how difficult executives in The United States of America, Incorporated may have made it for them to obtain the new ID’s.  What’s more, students with university ID’s will still be able to vote and will not have to join the NRA to obtain valid ID’s as their Republican lawmakers had intended.  They did say “federal election law takes precedence over state law in a federal election,” didn’t they?


Al Finkelstein  4/20/12