There's a lot of talk about rejected military absentee ballots, but Talking Points still isn't convinced that a lot of civilian (and thus more likely Gore) absentee ballots weren't rejected in Broward, Miami-Dade, Palm Beach and other counties. Yesterday's New York Times says that "Lawyers for each party made sure that each envelope containing civilian ballots met the stringent requirements of state law, including having the voter's signature and the date, with the signature crossing the seam where the ballot is sealed, and having the signature of a witness who is either a notary or a registered Florida voter [italics added]."
But a Talking Points reader in Israel, who tells me he helped others navigate the paperwork of absentee-ballot-dom, says there was never any mention of this requirement in the absentee ballot instructions. And he actually seems to have some proof to back up his claim. The Federal Voting Assistance Program website has instructions for obtaining and completing overseas absentee ballots. And the site has information for how to deal with absentee ballots for citizens of each state - information gathered from the state authorities.
But on the Florida section of the site there is no mention of needing a notary or a registered Florida voter to witness your ballot.
Now Talking Points has to admit he got pretty confused reading this material. It took him a while to realize that a good bit of the information on the site applies to the card you send to get your absentee ballot.
But ... but the document does clearly state: "When returning a voted ballot, the certificate on the return envelope must be witnessed by one person over the age of 18. The name and address of the witness are required on the certificate."
No notary, no registered voter Floridian required!
Who's responsible for this screw up? The Feds or Katherine Harris? Did it say something different on the absentee ballots themselves? And how many civilian votes got tossed because of it?
P.S. Talking Points has to admit that he's still a little confused about this; but he thinks he got it right.