August 08, 2004

Thursday's outburst had been brewing since LePore's handling of the 2000 election, and it escalated about a month ago when Klein, the Florida Senate Democratic leader, came to her office with a three-page list of questions and the suggestion that she simp

Some of those with eyes to see and ears to hear, who were
watching C-SPAN in 2000 during the post-election
Fraudida debacle, had to wonder if Theresa LePore,
like the-shell-of-a-man-formerly-known-as-Ralph-Nader,
is not what she purports to be...

Dara Kam, Palm Beach Post: Sen. Ron Klein and Palm
Beach County Supervisor of Elections Theresa LePore
agree on one thing: They've both had it. Thursday's
outburst had been brewing since LePore's handling of
the 2000 election, and it escalated about a month ago
when Klein, the Florida Senate Democratic leader, came
to her office with a three-page list of questions and
the suggestion that she simply isn't doing her job.

Thwart the Theft of a Second Presidential Election,
Show Up for Democracy in 2004: Defeat Bush (again!)

http://www.palmbeachpost.com/news/content/news/epaper/2004/08/07/s1a_vote_0807.html

Elections chief, senator fire back
By Dara Kam

Saturday, August 07, 2004

TALLAHASSEE Sen. Ron Klein and Palm Beach County
Supervisor of Elections Theresa LePore agree on one
thing: They've both had it. Thursday's outburst had been brewing since LePore's handling of the 2000 election, and it escalated about a month ago when Klein, the Florida Senate Democratic leader, came to her office with a three-page list of questions and the suggestion that she simply isn't doing her job.

The tension between the two elected officials came to
the boiling point Thursday, after LePore learned that
Klein wants voters in the 15 counties that use
touch-screen voting machines to be able to cast their
ballots on paper.

"I've been holding back in saying this, but I've just
about had it," LePore said.

"I have intentionally not been going after her, but
I've about had it," Klein said upon hearing that she
slammed his three-point plan to increase voter
confidence.

When told that LePore said she has worked in the
elections office since 1971 longer than Klein has
lived in Florida he retorted: "That doesn't mean
she's doing it well, though."

Klein, of Delray Beach, reiterated Friday that he is
"very, very concerned" that LePore isn't doing
everything she should to ensure that Palm Beach County
citizens feel confident that their votes will be
counted.

The standoff between them has become so bad, he said,
that she refuses to return his calls. Since last week,
Klein said, he has called LePore's assistant eight
times and had yet to receive a response by early
Friday evening.

"Can you even imagine that?" an indignant Klein asked.
"If my office responded that way to one constituent
forget being a state senator any constituent, they
should hang me out to dry."

LePore, who said her assistant had just a single call
from Klein's staff, said she feels he's been hounding
her and that she's fed up with his accusations, many
of which she says are based on his ignorance of
election laws.

"To be quite honest, I don't answer to Senator Klein,"
she said. "I answer to the constituents of Palm Beach
County. I've got a job to do, and I can't have
legislators trying to tell me how to do my job when
they're not familiar with the process."

Klein says he has voted using the touch-screen
machines and has no problem with them.

But he says he believes that many area residents are
worried that their votes may again go uncounted, after
reports of the machines' malfunctions in Miami-Dade
County and in other states, error rates higher than
those found with optical-scan machines and lingering
doubts of voters still smarting from the specter of
hanging, pregnant and dimpled chads.

Klein's plan would require placing at least one
optical-scan machine, which range in price from $4,100
to $5,500 apiece, in each precinct to tabulate the
paper ballots. LePore said the county now owns four
such machines and would need at least 696 more to meet
Klein's demands adding up to $2.8 million, at least.

"That's real money," LePore said.

"If that's the case then that's the case," Klein said.
"We need to have one. Whatever we have to do to make
it right, that's what we should do. I don't want to
hear excuses from the Division of Elections. I don't
want to hear excuses from the governor. I don't want
to hear excuses from the supervisors of elections. How
much would it cost to screw it up again? We made
serious mistakes in Florida. But we should have
learned lots of lessons in this."

Klein's attitude, LePore said, exemplifies his lack of
knowledge of the mechanics of running an election.

"Can the manufacturer manufacture that many machines
in that short amount of time? No," an obviously
irritated LePore said. "Can you train the poll workers
in that short amount of time? No. Do we have the
storage space in our current facility? No.

"You've got the paper issues, printing issues,
security issues. There are a whole lot of issues that
the advocates of the paper ballot don't comprehend or
don't want to understand."

If it weren't for the gravity of the issue at stake
fair and open elections the sniping about the
questions and answers after last month's nearly
two-hour meeting with the state senator during one of
LePore's busiest times of the year, would carry the
he-said, she-said quality of schoolyard bickering.

"It's never been about her," Klein said. "I'm not
going to get dragged in the mud on whether she's a
nice lady or not. That's not my issue here. I am just
concerned that her office does the important things to
make sure people are properly trained and that people
know where to go and how to vote and that their votes
get counted."

Klein took LePore's answers to the three-page
questionnaire he had presented LePore during their
meeting and sent them to his constituents in an August
newsletter, but he's still not satisfied.

His focus is what he characterizes as a lack of
information from LePore's office to the entire
electorate of the county.

This includes, Klein said, the standardized sample
ballot that LePore plans to send out this year. He
said this one-size-fits-all ballot will just confuse
people.

LePore countered that sample ballots customized for
each precinct would be cost-prohibitive.

"All they had to do was look at the number and look at
the page and be done with it," LePore said of the
standardized ballot. "God forbid we have to read and
follow instructions."

Klein also said LePore hasn't done enough to let
elderly voters know they can fill out a form that
allows them to update their signatures and not be
turned away from the polls because their signature
doesn't match the one on file.

Workers in the Delray Beach elections office on
Thursday did not know when the absentee ballots would
be mailed, Klein said. LePore said she could not have
predicted when they would be sent out until they all
came back from the printer. They arrived Friday, and
LePore said they would be sent to voters Monday.

"I think Senator Klein is nitpicking on a lot of
things that he knows nothing about," LePore said.

Klein did praise LePore for her thoroughness in
testing every machine and offered to assist her to get
the word out to voters.

"Time's a-wasting," he said. "We need to take action
and make sure these procedures are put to bed. And if
she needs help in getting the word out, I'll talk to
every media outlet in town."

That's where he and LePore agree.

"I need to get on with my job and I need to get back to concentrating on putting on a good election Aug. 31 and Nov. 2," she said on her way to demonstrate voting machines Friday evening. "I don't have time for this nonsense."

Posted by richard at August 8, 2004 04:51 PM