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Fuzzy math in the presidential elections?
Opinion by Reenie Young, Opinion editor


The recent voting controversy in Florida reminds us that the 2000 presidential election was one of the closest and most controversial in American history. It was so close that national news networks prematurely announced the United Statesí next president as Al Gore. Early estimates lead networks to believe that Florida votes would go to Gore, but when the final vote came in, the state and victory went to George W. Bush.

The election continues to be controversial. Recently, the National Association For The Advancement Of Colored People (NAACP) and four other civil rights groups filed suits against the state of Florida and five counties of Florida. The civil rights groups claimed that thousands of voter names had been wrongfully dropped from the voter rolls in the 2000 election. Most of those people dropped were minorities.

In Florida, Bush beat Gore by just 537 votes. Those wrongfully dropped votes could have cost Gore the election, since most of the minorities who were dropped from the voter rolls were said to be in favor of the Democratic Party and, therefore, Gore.

Voting systems have been questioned and changed since the 2000 election, but civil rights groups donít think the state will do enough to protect voters in upcoming elections. Florida already has new legislative boundary lines for compliance with the Voting Rights Act, which states that redistricting plans must protect the voting power of minorities. However, this act is still under review by Bushís Justice Department. What the civil rights groups were hoping to gain from the lawsuit is a change in how states and counties drop voters, how they process voter registration applications and address changes, and how precinct equipment and staffing are assigned.

A recent settlement reached on July 2, means hundreds of names could be restored to Floridaís voter roles, which will correct the errors in the central voter files. This deal is pending approval by U.S. District Judge Alan Gold, who has been presiding over the trial. Also, the company that compiles the list of felons and dead people who are to be removed from voter roles will be required to use stricter identification criteria, including a match of first and last name, Social Security number, race, gender, and date of birth. While the 2000 election was indeed controversial and perhaps even unfair, this is a positive result. Many changes are being made to protect the rights of voters so that in the future, no citizenís vote will be uncounted.


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