New Legal Controversy in Seminole, FL : LUSENET : TB2K spinoff uncensored : One Thread

Seminole faces charge of double voting

By Rene Stutzman and Kevin Connolly of the Sentinel Staff

Published in The Orlando Sentinel on November 23, 2000

"Do we have any evidence of that? Absolutely none." -- Judge John Sloop chairman of canvassing board

SANFORD -- New accusations of voting irregularities, including possible double voting, emerged Wednesday in Seminole County, as attorneys battling to throw out all 15,000 of the county`s absentee ballots began an investigation.

The new allegations, like the old, center on absentee ballots.

Gerald Richman, an attorney challenging presidential returns here, said it is possible some people voted twice -- once by absentee and a second time on Election Day.

A statistical analysis of returns from Precinct 28 in Longwood were "grossly" abnormal, he said.

After the Seminole County Canvassing Board finished recounting ballots countywide, George W. Bush made a net gain of 98 votes. Precinct 28 accounted for 88 of them.

"I think it means there were improprieties or double voting or something else," Richman said.

Sandy Goard, supervisor of elections, was not available for comment Wednesday. However, her attorney, Donna McIntosh, said there is no evidence to support any of those allegations.

She said poll workers had a roster of registered voters, and it showed each person who had already voted absentee. There was no evidence anyone tried to vote a second time Nov. 7.

Said County Judge John Sloop, chairman of the county`s canvassing board, "Do we have any evidence of that? Absolutely none."

The new allegations popped up after Goard began giving a sworn statement to attorneys about the issue at the heart of the vote dispute here.

Longwood Democrat Harry Jacobs is suing Goard, accusing her of colluding with the GOP in a get-out-the-vote campaign. If he prevails, all 15,000 absentee ballots cast in Seminole will be thrown out, enough to swing the election to Vice President Al Gore.

Goard has admitted allowing two Republican operatives to add missing voter-identification numbers to 4,700 absentee ballot requests, forms she had earlier disallowed as incomplete. The requests were from mostly GOP voters.

That suit, set for trial Wednesday, accuses the GOP of voter fraud and Goard of collusion.

Canvassing board attorney Jim Hattaway says Goard did nothing wrong.

At a hearing Wednesday, Richman, who represents Jacobs, asked a judge to order Goard to surrender more records.

Among the things he requested -- and won -- was access to the Election Day book signed by voters in Precinct 28 when they got their ballots. Richman said he wanted to compare them with other signatures on file with the supervisor of elections office.

He also asked for access to Goard`s computer system, saying he wanted to check whether it showed more people had voted absentee than had requested absentee ballots.

Circuit Judge Debra Nelson ordered Goard to surrender a list of names of everyone who requested absentee ballots as well as those to whom the office sent one. She then imposed a gag order prohibiting the disclosure of those names.

-- GOP (, November 24, 2000

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