Who let the South vote?

November 14, 2000

Who let the South vote?

So there I was down at the bank the other day. I was trying to fill out a deposit ticket and wound up voting for Pat Buchanan.

But seriously.

Milosevic has to be loving this. Along with the Nicaraguans and the Mexicans. Imagine, voter shenanigans and angry voter protests in the United States. What are they going to do, send Presidente Vincente Fox up here to monitor ballot counting in Dade County?

I sincerely hope that by the time you read this, we will have a winner, and hopefully a very bitter and ticked off loser. But by the time I'm writing this, the candidates are separated by 350 votes out of 6 million cast in Florida.

So far, we've had misplaced ballot boxes, misunderstood ballots, votes that were knocked out for people who voted twice and ballots that haven't arrived yet from Tel Aviv.


Fie on whatever amendment that was that gave Southerners the vote.

Southerners have fits when we Yankees, or even we Orioles, make fun of them. To which I would say, if you do not wish to be made fun of, then stop doing stupid things.

Of course, we can't talk too loud here in the Tri-State area, home of Berkeley County, W.Va., and its Mayor Richard Daley Model 1960 voting machines. Man, that was the ugliest count this side of Transylvania.

Poll workers started feeding ballots into the machines and they seized up tighter than the friction bearings on a 1943 International Harvester steel-wheeled Tristar tractor, as Dan Rather would say.

Of course, by then no once cared, since at that point the only things we really wanted to feed into a piece of machinery were Jim Humphreys and Shelly Moore Capito.

In Flori-duh, the problem was more of what you would classify as "human error." Apparently the ballot was confusing in, say, the same way that a traffic signal can be confusing. "But officer, it's not fair - the red light is so close to the green light."

So thousands of Gore supporters in Palm Beach County may have voted for Pat Buchanan. Or, as a London Times headline writer archly noted, "How liberal Jews wound up voting for Hitler admirer."

Another good headline from the British tabloids was:

It's Gore!

It's Bush!

It's - oh, never mind.

I know they are talking about taking the Palm Beach case to court, but I think Gore would want to be very careful about this. What he'd basically be saying is that he is the overwhelming choice of the nation's dumbest people. That's hardly a campaign slogan you want to run on; "Al Gore: Clear choice of America's leading idiots."

Although, who's to say that 19,000 people who thought they were voting for Bush didn't actually vote for legalized prostitution?

Wouldn't it be a treat to see other examples of these people's handiwork? I mean if they can screw up a simple ballot, what COULDN'T they do on a Census form?

If the 2000 count comes in showing 42 percent of the people in Palm Beach claim to be Aleutian Eskimos living in doublewide igloos, we'll know what happened.

And what's in a name? Maybe since B comes before G, Bush was in the top spot on the ticket between the two major parties - and Gore was in the second position where he was confused with Buchanan on the opposite side of the ballot. If George W. Bush were named George W. Push, Gore would have won West Palm, won Florida, won the nation and the entire course of history would have been altered.

Think about that if you're ever tempted to name your child Zachary.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist.

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