2000 Election Fiasco in Florida: The Exclusion of Black Voters
Voices from the 2000 Presidential Fiasco in Florida
Black voters in Florida came out in record numbers on November 7th to exercise their constitutional rights to vote. It is shameful that qualified voters were prevented from voting or from having their vote count because they were purged from registration rolls or because they used voting machines that did not accurately record a vote. These measures have become the literacy tests of the new millennium. These and other practices unlawfully suppressed the black vote. We need to ensure that in our democracy this unfair disenfranchisement never happens again.
—Barbara Arnwine, Executive Director of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
Perhaps the most dramatic undercount in this election was the nonexistent ballots of the countless unknown eligible voters, who were wrongfully purged from the voter registration rolls, turned away from the polls, and by various other means prevented from exercising the franchise. While statistical data, reinforced by credible anecdotal evidence, point to widespread disenfranchisement and denial of voting rights, it is impossible to determine the extent of the disenfranchisement or to provide an adequate remedy to the persons whose voices were silenced in this historic election by a pattern and practice of injustice, ineptitude and inefficiency …. The Commission on Civil Rights did not find conclusive evidence that the highest officials of the state conspired to produce the disenfranchisement of voters. Instead, the Commission found that the governor and the secretary of state, in particular, chose to simply ignore the mounting evidence that many counties were experiencing rising voter registration rates in communities with out-dated voting technology. Furthermore, they ignored the pleas of some supervisors of elections for guidance and help …. The State's highest officials responsible for assuring effective uniformity coordination and application of the election were grossly derelict in fulfilling their responsibilities and unwilling to accept accountability.
—Excerpts of executive summary points from the Commission on Civil Rights report on the 2000 Florida general election
Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to African-American History © 2003 by Melba J. Duncan. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
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