I voted by absentee ballot during the 2000 Presidential election. I had to.
I was stationed at Fort Hood, Tex., and I sent my ballot via UPS to the office of the Broward County Supervisor of Elections. The reason I used UPS was that I had been away from home for three weeks of temporary duty in Washington before the election. I barely made it back in time in time to vote and send in my ballot.
Knowing it would be close, I sent my ballot via UPS. I tracked the package the entire way. It was delivered and signed for by someone named “Benson” at 3:09pm on Tuesday, Nov 7, 2000. The legal deadline was 7p.m., so my ballot made it on time.
Seven months later, I got a call from Chris Drew at the New York Times. He told me my name was on a list of thousands of voters whose absentee ballots had not been counted.
My ballot, he informed me, had been stamped by Broward County as received nine days late, on Nov. 16, 2000. I was stunned by this revelation.
For the next four years, I tried to figure out what had happened. I made repeated requests for a copy of my ballot, but the office of the Broward County Supervisor of Elections delayed and stonewalled for a year and a half until the statute of limitations had expired.
On November 20, 2003, Jeb Bush suspended Broward Elections Supervisor Miriam Oliphant for incompetence.
Late in 2003, after the two year statute of limitations expired, I finally received a xerox copy of the voided ballot. With that, and a multitude of other documents, I built my case. I presented it to the Florida Elections Commission during a public hearing in Tallahassee in 2004. They validated my claim and sent a letter to Brenda Snipes, the new Broward County Supervisor of Elections, asking that my ballot be officially opened and counted in the official result.
Brenda Snipes never responded to the letter. To date, my ballot has never been opened or counted.
I believe that thousands of Floridian absentee ballots from that election were fraudulently stamped with incorrect dates of receipt. The Supervisor of Elections knows there is no tracking system on ballots handled by the U.S. Postal Service. With no tracking, the receiver can stamp them as “late” without fear of being caught.
It’s the perfect crime.
I can’t speak to the motive. Some election workers might just be lazy. But let’s say an unscrupulous hyper-partisan entity decided to sort the ballots by party registration and decide which ballots to open and count, and which ones to mark “late”?
My vote was stolen by some unscrupulous government servant. Unfortunately, Miriam Oliphant was never charged with a misdemeanor for stealing my vote, because she stonewalled and denied access to the evidence I needed to prove my case. Oliphant’s replacement, Dr. Brenda Snipes, took no action to count my vote. She just swept it under the rug.
But I did succeed in proving that George W. Bush won by 538 votes, not 537. I guess that’s something.
The question now is: What about Brenda Snipes? It would be unwise for Governor Scott to suspend Snipes. His name is on the ballot in a close contest. Scott has a glaring conflict of interest. Florida Secretary of State Ken Dextner needs to act immediately to suspend and replace Snipes before she completely destroys what little remains of Broward County voter confidence. It’s overdue.
Dave Lowry, a retired colonel, is a thirty-year Army veteran with two masters degrees. He lives in Nassau County, Florida.