Published Wednesday, July 28, 2004, in Investors Business Daily, p. A14

Dems Won’t Permit Facts to Get In Way of ’00 Election Myth 

By John R. Lott, Jr. and Brian Blase.

You know that the political debate has been poisoned when 85 percent of African-Americans feel President Bush stole the 2000 election. At least that is what a CBS poll released last Friday finds.  

Possibly this just reflects the same 85 percent of African-Americans who disapprove of the job that Bush is doing.  But if no body really believes the election was stolen and it is all window dressing, it is hard to explain why the Democrats keep raising the issue at almost every possible opportunity.   

Michael Moore is not alone in asserting the election was stolen. On   Monday night at the Democratic Convention, both former Vice President   Al Gore and former President Bill Clinton raised the election issue   that “this time every vote is counted” and “this year, we're going to  make sure they're all counted.”  

Before both the NAACP and the Urban League during July, Senator John Kerry said that in 2000 there were “a million disenfranchised African Americans” and that it was the “most tainted election in history.”  

Jesse Jackson recently claimed that “in the year 2000, the loser won and the winner lost” and that “our birthright was stolen.” 

The continued charges of Bush stealing the election from Gore are   remarkable considering that exhaustive studies by the U.S. Commission   on Civil Rights and newspaper organizations have found little, if any   evidence voter harassment, intimidation and disenfranchisement   occurred in Florida.   

Probes Come Up Empty 

The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights began an investigation in January   2001 following the public outcry after the election. Although Democrats   appointed 6 of the 8 commissioners and the hearings were often hostile   toward Republicans, the Commission could not find evidence that a   single person was intimidated, harassed, or prevented from voting by   Florida law enforcement.  

The Commission could not find evidence of systematic disenfranchisement of African-American voters, and concluded that state officials were not at fault for widespread voter disenfranchisement.   

A favorite charge is that Republicans threw African-Americans off the   voter rolls to take votes away from Democrats.  

Florida bans felons from voting, unless they had been granted clemency. Before the 2000 vote, the state hired Database Technologies to purge rolls of felons and dead people.

Unfortunately, some non-felons were erroneously removed from the rolls * but the errors didn’t target minorities.     

  The liberal-leaning Palm Beach Post found that “a review of state   records, internal e-mails of [Database Technologies] employees and   testimony before the Civil Rights Commission and an elections task   force showed no evidence that minorities were specifically targeted.”  

In fact, while more African-Americans were removed from the voter   roles simply because most felons in Florida are black, whites were   twice as likely to be erroneously placed on the list as African-Americans were.   

The evidence does not support the charges that there was a nefarious   plot to deny African-American voters their right to vote.  

In fact, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights reports that in 24 of the 25 counties with the highest percentage of non-voted ballots for president, the county supervisor was a Democrat. In the remaining county, the   supervisor was an independent.   

Spoiled Ballots   

Additionally, the overall rate of spoiled ballots was 14% higher when the county election supervisor was a Democrat, and 31% higher when the   supervisor was an African American Democrat. The famed butterfly ballots of Palm Beach County were creations of Democrats.  

Thus, if these nonvoted ballots are viewed as disenfranchisement, not simply that some voters didn’t intend to vote in a particular race, then the ire of Democrats should be directed toward Democrats in Florida.   

Recent research published by one of the current authors in the Journal   of Legal Studies shows that if any African-Americans in Florida had an   unusually high rate of spoiled ballots it was African-American   Republicans, not African-American Democrats.  

By income, it was voters with family income over $500,000, hardly a group that one could attribute their nonvoted ballots to mistakes on their part.   

To start the Democratic convention, newspaper headlines blared:   “Democratic Convention aims to stay positive.”  

Of course, there were the obligatory charges from speakers such as Jimmy Carter that President Bush had lied about the Iraq war.  

But Bill Clinton is the master at simultaneously claiming that Democrats have sought to unite Americans, while Republicans “need a divided America,” and lacing his speech with issues that divide Americans: the supposedly stolen election or rich versus poor being just two.  Senator Kerry and the Democratic Party elites will undoubtedly continue to trumpet their message of the 2000 election as “stolen” and *tainted” because it resonates with their base. But at what costs are these short-term electoral gains achieved? How harmful is it to race relations that African-Americans believe that others are conspiring to keep their votes from being counted?   

*John Lott is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and   was the statistical expert for the Republican minority on the U.S.   Commission on Civil Rights report on Florida.  

*Brian Blase is a research assistant at the American Enterprise Institute.

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