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Monday, October 18, 2004

Dirty tricks return to Florida

The Guardian reports:
Gordon Sasser first got the feeling that something strange was going on when the telephone pierced the silence of a weekday afternoon at his house on the swampy fringes of Tallahassee, northern Florida.

An automated voice had some surprising news: did he know that he could now cast his presidential vote by phone, and could do so right now, using the keypad? Mr Sasser's suspicion that somebody was trying to trick him into thinking he was casting a vote - presumably so that he wouldn't cast a real one - was far from unique.

James Scruggs, another Tallahassee resident, remembers a similar unease about the young woman who phoned him at home, insistently offering to collect his absentee ballot to ensure its safe delivery.

Then there was the elderly woman who called the local elections office last week to register her husband for an absentee vote. According to office staff, as she hung up she made a point of thanking them: she wouldn't have thought to get in touch about her husband, she said, if it hadn't been for their helpful call the night before, when someone had taken her own details, assuring her that she was now registered and would receive a ballot.

But the elections office makes no such calls.

"It's Alice in Wonderland here now," sighed Ion Sancho, elections supervisor for Leon County, which includes Tallahassee, Florida's capital. "Up is down, and down is up ... My feeling is that someone has essentially conned her into believing that she's going to be voting."

Mr Sancho is a longstanding thorn in the side of Florida's governor, Jeb Bush, who presides from a building across the street. But even he seems astonished by the reports reaching his office these days.

"I've been an elections supervisor for 16 years now, and nobody has ever called me with this kind of activity occurring," he said.

Story continues here.


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