March 9, 2004

Florida Myth Refuted...Again

Just because you say something often enough, or loud enough, that doesn't make it true. Peter Kirsanow takes on the scurrilous charge that Florida voters were disenfranchised in the 2000 election:

Even before the last vote had been cast in the 2000 presidential election, activists had descended upon Florida, claiming a widespread conspiracy to disenfranchise black voters. Allegations that state troopers put up roadblocks and checkpoints to prevent blacks from voting were rampant. Dogs and hoses were allegedly used to drive black voters from the polls. Bull Connor's heirs had been unleashed — all at the direction of Governor Bush and his sidekick, Secretary of State Katherine Harris.

But the bottom line, as articulated by Kirsanow, a member of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, is that...

There's absolutely no evidence that a single person was intimidated, harassed, or prevented from voting by Florida law enforcement. Despite claims of rampant police intimidation and harassment, the only evidence of law-enforcement "misconduct" consisted of just two witnesses who described their perceptions regarding the actions of the Florida Highway Patrol. One of these witnesses testified that he thought it was "unusual" to see an empty patrol car parked outside a polling place. There was no evidence that sight of the vehicle somehow intimidated the witness or any other voters from casting ballots. There was no evidence that the erstwhile occupant of the vehicle harassed voters. There was no evidence that the empty vehicle was there for the purpose of somehow disenfranchising anyone assigned to vote at that location.

The second witness had filed a highly publicized complaint with the NAACP regarding a police motor-vehicle checkpoint. In the hysterical recount period following the election the complaint took on a life of its own and apparently became part of the basis for the legend that legions of cops were harassing thousands of black voters throughout Florida.

The evidence, however, shows that the checkpoint in question was two miles from the polling place. Moreover, it was not even on the same road as the polling facility. During the checkpoint's approximately ninety minutes of operation, citations for faulty equipment were issued to 16 individuals, 12 of whom were white. The uncontroverted evidence shows that no one was delayed or prohibited from voting due to the lone checkpoint.

There's no evidence of systematic disenfranchisement of black voters. The myth of a nefarious plot to thwart black voters from casting ballots is wholly unsupported by the evidence. Inconvenience, bureaucratic errors and inefficiencies were indeed pervasive. But these problems don't rise to the level of invidious discrimination. (There was one case in which a black woman alleged that she was turned away from a poll at closing time whereas a white man wasn't.)

(emphasis in original)

Kirsanow had a similar piece on NRO back in October, but the myth persists, and so too must the myth-busting.

Posted by dan at March 9, 2004 10:56 PM