WEST PALM BEACH (AP):
Here, in a county that knows a thing or two about election day meltdowns, both parties are fretting over what might go seriously wrong before, during or just after the November 6 presidential election.
"More than 50 per cent of the provisional ballots are thrown in the trash in this state," Florida state Republican Mark Pafford told about 80 retirees who gathered for last week's meeting of the Golden Lakes Democratic Club.
That's only a slight exaggeration, 48 per cent of the provisional ballots cast in Florida in 2008 were rejected. And Pafford's warning underscores anxiety in Florida and other states about legal challenges, ballot problems or bizarre outcomes that could bedevil a race that seems likely to be close, conceivably as close as the 2000 contest that people still quarrel about.
Merely the mention of that election unsettles people in Palm Beach County. The county's poorly designed 'butterfly ballot' confused thousands of voters, arguably costing Democrat Al Gore the state, and thereby the presidency.
Gore won the national popular vote by more than a half-million ballots. But George W. Bush became president after the Supreme Court decided, 5-4, to halt further Florida recounts, more than a month after election day. Bush carried the state by 537 votes, enough for an Electoral College edge.