Follow Slashdot stories on Twitter


Forgot your password?
DEAL: For $25 - Add A Second Phone Number To Your Smartphone for life! Use promo code SLASHDOT25. Also, Slashdot's Facebook page has a chat bot now. Message it for stories and more. Check out the new SourceForge HTML5 Internet speed test! ×
User Journal

Journal Journal: On Florida Felon Disenfranchisement

The list of "felons" to scrub was given to Harris by private contractor ChoicePoint whose ties with the GOP are, shall we say, strong.

I've heard lots of accusations of Harris disenfranchising, etc... but never that ChoicePoint had "close ties to the GOP". You cite Greg Palast. Could you find a less biased source? Noam Chomsky Perhaps?

All sorts of deliberate errors were made in the scrubbing process, costing Gore a minimum 22 000 votes on election day 2000.

You obviously pulled these numbers from some reference (probably Palast's work) and didn't even bother to see if they make sense. Since you didn't cite any web references, I will use this Wikipedia entry as my source. Let go through the various "disenfranchisement" claims.

From the article, 57,700 "felons" were struck from the voter list. These people were all contacted (although I assume it is reasonable that many of these people were not reached), of which 4,874 appealed. Of the 4,874 appeals, 2,430 were re-instated. Now, lacking an additional info, I assume that someone compared these two numbers, and figured that 50% of the listed names were incorrect, where in reality, it is only 50% of those on the list who came forward to dispute the error. Granted, anyone being denied a vote is tragic, but 2,430 (all of whom were reinstated) is a far cry from 22,000. Why didn't the other 53,000 people on the list appeal? More likely, most didn't appeal because outside of the 2,430, nearly all were convicted felons. Which brings us to ...List Demographics:

Voter demographics authority David Bositis, a senior research associate at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies in Washington, DC, reviewed The Nation's findings and concluded that the purge-and-block program was "a patently obvious technique to discriminate against black voters." He noted that based on nationwide conviction rates, African-Americans would account for 46% of the ex-felon group wrongly disfranchised.

Breakdown of the distribution for 3 major counties:

  • Miami-Dade, 20% voters are Black, 66% names on list were Black (3,794)
  • Leon County, 29% voters are Black, 55% names on list were Black
  • None of the names on the list were Hispanic.

First off, David Bositis is expecting a 46% rate of black names on the ex-felon group list. What is his criteria? national averages. African Americans comprise 12.6% of the US population, but make up 46% of the ex-felon group (according to Bositis). Florida has slightly more aftican-americans than the national average at 14.6%. Lets look at Miami-Dade and Leon counties that the Bositis cites: Both counties have significantly higher (about double) the national average of African-Americans. Wouldn't it make some sense that the they would appear on the felon list with greater frequency than the national African-American breakdown of ex-felons? (46%)

Now lets go after that last bullet: None of the names on the list were Hispanic. Greg Palast has this screenshot on his website of a segment of the list. (Ignore for the moment that he apparently uses Windows, AOL, and has 16 non-standard icons in his system tray.) While I don't dispute that ChoicePoint used poor methods to determine matches, what else can we glean from the spreadsheet? For one thing, there are no "Hispanics" in the race column, despite there being two names that appear to be hispanic in origin. One is listed as unknown, and one as white. So, the argument that "hispanics have been removed because they tend to vote Republican" is probably bunk. Much more likely, ChoicePoint correctly identified Hispanics as an "ethinic group" and not a race. This would very reasonably explain why there are no "hispanics" on the list.

Bottom line, while I don't doubt that some African-American voters were disenfranchised, maybe even enough to change the outcome, I seriously doubt it was 22,000. More importantly, why isn't anyone calculating how many of the white voters were disenfranchised (through the same felon list, voter fraud, or absentee fraud?)

Slashdot Top Deals

Torque is cheap.