After the disputed presidential election of 2000, which produced an administration not ”deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed” as the Declaration of Independence said, several American newspapers dug into how Florida had counted votes.
Among the details recounted in the New York Times was this:
To give overseas residents plenty of time to vote, Florida officials mail out both a preliminary version of the absentee ballot and then, after the primaries, a final version. Voters are instructed to send in both, but the preliminary ballot is discarded if the final ballot arrives in time to be counted.CPO Challen thus publicly acknowledged voting twice. And he celebrated the result.
Yet for 19 voters -- 15 of them Republican -- Duval County election officials counted both ballots. Officials said it was a mistake, the product of long hours and the intense pressure to count every possible ballot.
One of the double voters, Nicholas Challen, 40, a senior chief petty officer in the Navy who cast his second vote from Jacksonville [in Duval County] on Election Day, reacted with jubilation when told that both of his votes counted. He raised both arms as if he had just scored a touchdown and savored the two votes he had delivered to George W. Bush.
“Yes!” he said, beaming.
The Times quoted other military voters saying they had voted after Election Day, taking advantage of the laxer rules set up for service members mailing ballots from overseas (which don’t always get postmarked).
Voter fraud is supposedly why several Republican-controlled state legislatures have enacted stricter rules in this cycle. Yet those lawmakers never seem to bring up CPO Challen’s name. That’s because overseas ballots like his provided the winning margin for Bush in 2000, and because they believe that people with military ties are more likely to vote Republican.
Republicans in Ohio and other states have therefore tried to make rules for military voters more lax than for all other citizens. This is part of a concerted effort that a Pennsylvania party leader acknowledged is designed to “allow Governor Romney to win.”