In the Nov. 10 Washington Post, Philip Heymann, a Harvard Law School professor and former Clinton deputy attorney general, claimed that the now-infamous butterfly ballot was "a plain violation of the law." As Heymann noted, the law requires voters to "vote for a candidate whose name is printed on the ballot place a cross (x) mark in the blank space at the right of the name of the candidate ..."
It ought to have struck a lot of people when reading the quoted language that it speaks of placing a "cross (X) mark," but the butterfly ballot does not permit of any cross marks anyplace! It's all very confusing, and thank heaven we have fancy, high-priced lawyers to explain complicated legal conundrums like this -- until you realize: the "at the right" requirement has nothing to do with butterfly ballots.
That phraseology comes from a section tellingly titled "Voting by paper ballot" -- you know, the kind of ballot on which it is possible to "place a cross (x) mark in the blank space," not to be confused with a butterfly ballot.
If you read down just a little bit, down past the section on "paper ballots," there is a completely different chapter titled "Voting machine ballots" -- such as butterfly ballots. This section quite clearly states that the location of the "push knob, key, lever or other device" must simply "indicate to the elector" which candidate the "push knob, key, lever or other device" refers to. If there were an "at the right" requirement for butterfly ballots, this would have been a good place to mention it.
The requirement that voting machine ballots follow the "order" of paper ballots ("as nearly as practicable") refers only to the order of the candidates and measures being voted upon -- which the "paper ballot" section describes in laborious detail.
Just remember this the next time you hear a Harvard Law professor explaining the law.
Lie No. 4: Pat Buchanan could not possibly have received 3,000-odd votes in Palm Beach County.
Just four years ago, Pat Buchanan received three times that many votes in a primary in Palm Beach. So we know there are at least 9,000 potential Buchanan voters in Palm Beach, and they are the kind of devoted voters who vote in primaries. Moreover, even this year, the Reform Party candidate for the House of Representatives received more than 7,000 votes from Palm Beach.
Lie No. 5: I believe the president.Whoops! That's "old news."
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