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Old 11-13-2002, 10:36 PM   #1
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More Zany Comments From An Alabama Politician

Gee, I wonder who our Governor's inspiration is?

Well, anyway, he is contesting the election results because he lost by a small margin; he has been going on about it for over a week now. He is even trying to bring up the "undervote" theory again. One certain thing about him is that he has a way with words; if you recall, he is the one who said "If God meant for little boys to wear earrings, then he would have made them little girls."

Here is an article which woke me up this morning, from THE BIRMINGHAM NEWS; please notice the bold comments to see what he thinks of the intelligence of his constituents:

Governor decries ballots

Says optical scanners can be confusing


News staff writers

ANNISTON Gov. Don Siegelman said Tuesday that thousands of votes might have been discarded in the Nov. 5 election because his supporters, particularly the poor and uneducated, were confused by optical scanner ballots.

Siegelman is urging a statewide recount of ballots in his Nov. 5 race with Republican Bob Riley, who leads by 3,117 votes. At least two counties, Tuscaloosa and Russell, are moving ahead with recount plans despite opposition from the Riley campaign and Republican Attorney General Bill Pryor.

The Democratic governor said the optical scanner ballot on which voters fill in a blank space to cast their votes could be confusing, particularly to people not familiar with standardized tests.

"I would argue that most of Bob Riley's voters have taken a test where you have to fill out those things," Siegelman said. "I represent poor people, working class folks, mom and pop store owners. A lot of those people didn't necessarily know the right technique to vote an optical scan ballot."

Republican Secretary of State Jim Bennett disagreed with Siegelman's assessment that some people might be baffled by the ballots. "I think that's an insult to the intelligence of Alabama voters," Bennett said.

He said the optical scanner is designed to be easy to understand and is far less error-prone than the butterfly and punch card ballots that wreaked legal havoc in Florida in the 2000 presidential race.

"It's probably the most simple in existence," Bennett said.

People are given pictures showing what a correctly filled ballot looks like, and they can have a person help them mark it if they are illiterate or have a disability.

Additionally, the optical scanner voting system has safeguards, according to Bennett. For example, if a person circles the names of candidates or puts a check mark by them, the scanning machine likely won't read any votes and will spit the ballot back out for the voter to correct.

Sixty-three Alabama counties use optical scanners.

Siegelman said there might be as many as 8,000 "undervotes" statewide, ballots on which the machines did not record a preference in the governor's race. That's one of the reasons he'd like a recount of the ballots; a closer examination might yield additional votes.

Also, Siegelman said, the optical scanning machines are known to produce errors. It's a small percentage, but in an election this close it could make the difference, he said.

Siegelman contends a recount is legal, citing a state regulation that has been used in local races but never statewide.

But Pryor issued an opinion Friday saying election officials who held recounts could be committing a misdemeanor because of a conflicting 1953 law that makes it a crime to open sealed voting materials except in limited conditions.

Russell County could be the first county to recount ballots in the disputed race. Russell County Probate Judge Albert Howard, a Democrat, said a recount is scheduled for Thursday morning. He said he's not worried about the attorney general's opinion.

"That just sounds like intimidation to me," Howard said.

Tuscaloosa County also plans a recount but has not decided when it will be held, Judge Hardy McCollum said.

McCollum, a Democrat, said he thought election law clearly allowed for recounts. At least one has been conducted in Tuscaloosa County, and he saw no reason not to do this one.

"We've done it before," he said.

McCollum said the ballots will be run back through the machines during Tuscaloosa County's recount. Only ballots that the machines reject will be open to interpretation, he said.

He said that while there might be a significant number of undervotes in the governor's race, he didn't think it was from voter confusion. He said he thought many people sat out that race to protest Riley's and Siegelman's negative campaign tactics.

Siegelman spokesman Rip Andrews praised the two counties' move to recount votes.

"We hope every county in Alabama will do what these counties are doing and follow the law and not the partisan opinion of an attorney general that has no basis in law," Andrews said.

Riley lawyer Matt Lembke would not say if he will go to court to try to block the recounts.

"The attorney general's opinion made it clear that anyone who breaks those seals is committing a crime," Lembke said.

Pryor's office had no immediate comment, according to a spokeswoman.

Siegelman's lawyers are exploring ways to obtain a statewide recount but have not decided on a course of action.

"This thing has been made far more difficult than it needed to be," Siegelman said. "I'm convinced Don Siegelman won this election. But win or lose let's get this over with."

Ummmm, Siegy, you're the one who made it difficult!


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Old 11-14-2002, 11:04 AM   #2
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I just love the "here, let me fill out your ballot cause you don't know what you're doing" attitude.

At least we won't have to sit through weeks of chad examinations to figure out what a voter really wanted.

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Old 11-18-2002, 09:01 PM   #3
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After two weeks of fooling around, the incumbent dropped his request for a re-count. We have a new Governor.

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Old 11-18-2002, 09:10 PM   #4
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I think on day 2, I posted that this incumbent (dem) lost and should concede.
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Old 11-18-2002, 09:43 PM   #5
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What would Al Gore do?
What would Jim Thune do?

Who is a state's man?
Who is not?

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Old 11-18-2002, 09:45 PM   #6
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You did, as I recall. Some of his Democratic allies in the state legislature agreed, and apparently that is why he didn't try to bring the legislature into it (calling them in a special session to "sort it out").

Alabama politics are quite often entertaining.


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