TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - An international group that
usually monitors elections in developing democracies said
Monday it would take up posts at Florida precincts in November
in hopes of averting another debacle when voters pick the next
Four years after Florida became the object of international
ridicule, officials for the Catholic group Pax Christi USA will
place monitors from 30 countries at polls in four Florida
counties that were at the center of the 2000 U.S. presidential
The Washington-based group will ask its international
organization to send monitors to Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm
Beach and Duval counties, where voting irregularities kept the
outcome of the 2000 presidential race in doubt for more than
The national coordinator for Pax Christi USA, Dave
Robinson, said Florida's 2000 election woes were symbolic of
errors across the United States that disenfranchised hundreds
of thousands of voters.
"Normally, Americans go to developing nations to ensure
fair, transparent and free elections," Robinson said.
"We felt it was necessary to bring our friends from other
parts of the world to the United States to bear witness in
order that we might have a fair transparent and free
Florida Gov. Jeb Bush said equating Florida's election
system with that of a Third World country was insulting. He
also said Florida had put in place machinery and voter
education programs that made it a model for the nation.
"This is all part of some politically motivated thing that
tries to scare people to somehow think their vote is not going
to count," Bush said. "That's hogwash, hogwash."
Florida voters split down the middle in the Nov. 7, 2000,
election, spawning court battles over whether and how to count
imperfect ballots. The battle went all the way to the U.S.
Supreme Court and George W. Bush was eventually declared the
winner by 537 votes, which put him in the White House.
Florida has banished the balky punchcard ballots that made
a household word of "chad," the bits of cardboard dislodged
when the cards were punched.
Florida counties now use paper ballots that are penciled in
like standardized tests and read via optical scanners, or
electronic touch-screen machines similar to automated bank
Some counties have had glitches with the latter. U.S. Rep.
Robert Wexler, a Florida Democrat, filed a federal lawsuit on
Monday asking a judge to order ballot printers that would
produce a paper record in the 15 counties that use touch-screen
machines. Without them, he said, there is no way to conduct a
Copyright © 2004, Reuters Ltd