Saving the Vote
By PAUL KRUGMAN Published: August 17, 2004
veryone knows it, but not many politicians or mainstream journalists are willing to talk about it, for fear of sounding conspiracy-minded: there is a substantial chance that the result of the 2004 presidential election will be suspect.
Yet the behavior of Gov. Jeb Bush's officials with regard to other election-related matters offers no justification for such faith. First there was the affair of the felon list. Florida law denies the vote to convicted felons. But in 2000 many innocent people, a great number of them black, couldn't vote because they were erroneously put on a list of felons; these wrongful exclusions may have put Governor Bush's brother in the White House.
This year, Florida again drew up a felon list, and tried to keep it secret. When a judge forced the list's release, it turned out that it once again wrongly disenfranchised many people - again, largely African-American - while including almost no Hispanics.
Yesterday, my colleague Bob Herbert reported on another highly suspicious Florida initiative: state police officers have gone into the homes of elderly African-American voters - including participants in get-out-the-vote operations - and interrogated them as part of what the state says is a fraud investigation. But the state has provided little information about the investigation, and, as Mr. Herbert says, this looks remarkably like an attempt to intimidate voters.
Given this pattern, there will be skepticism if Florida's paperless voting machines give President Bush an upset, uncheckable victory.