PALM BEACH STORY
With challenges to vote counts flying furiously throughout Florida, we presume to advise an attorney for one group of complainants--those voters in Palm Beach County who were misled by the infamous "butterfly ballot." A total of 19,120 ballots were disqualified in the county because they recorded votes for two different candidates. A later sample count by the canvassing board showed a majority of the double votes were for Gore and Buchanan, lending credence to the theory that folks were misled into voting for Pat. A Florida barrister with the Dickensian name of Henry Handler is representing dozens of Palm Beach County voters who sued because their votes weren't counted. On behalf of his clients, Handler asked for a revote, but on November 20 Judge Jorge LaBarga of the Palm Beach County Court rejected the revote remedy on the ground that the Constitution clearly states that presidential elections have to be held on a single day. The case is now on appeal, and we offer Mr. Handler a suggestion: Instead of asking the court for a new election, ask it to disqualify the tainted ballots in the election districts (EDs) in question--a practice with which Florida courts in particular are familiar--and simultaneously invite all aggrieved voters in these same EDs to come forward with affidavits stating, under penalty of perjury, whom they really meant to vote for. Thus, they would not be voting on a day other than Election Day, but simply reaffirming their vote under oath. And they would be cleansed of the sin of voting for Buchanan.
THE REAL LEADERS
Although the word "leadership" was bruited about ad nauseam in the late campaign, we emerged no wiser about what it consists of. The Advocacy Institute, a Washington public interest group co-directed by Michael Pertschuk, a contributor to this magazine, has undertaken a project in partnership with the Ford Foundation and the Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service at New York University that should reinject some content into a term that was filled with hot air. It's called Leadership for a Changing World, and the objective is to recognize community leaders or leadership teams who have been tackling social problems with noteworthy success. Over the course of six years the program will give sixty leaders and leadership teams $100,000 each to advance their work, plus $30,000 for supporting activities. You are invited to nominate someone who has shown superior leadership talent in a local community or field. Nominations will be accepted through January 5, 2001. First, you'd better obtain a nomination brochure, setting rules and criteria. It may be had by going to www.leadershipforchange.org or by writing the Advocacy Institute, 1629 K Street NW, Suite 200, Washington, DC 20006.
READERSHIP SURVEY (CONT.)
Watchers of this space may recall we published a "Readership Survey" that provided mock descriptions of the typical readers of various publications. Since then we have received some additional examples: "The Congressional Record is read by those who hope (and some pray) that no one is running the country" (Don Slagel). "The Financial Times is read by people who don't care about the country but want to run the world" (Robert C. Sommer). "National Review is read by people who think liberals are running the country" (Suzanne Prichard). "The Washington Times is read by people who wish the country were being run by editorial writers at the Wall Street Journal" (Morton Paulson). And this from the erudite Washington columnist Lars-Erik Nelson, sadly, not long before he died: "The New York Daily News is not only read by people who are not too sure who is running the country, it is also written by people (e.g., me) who are not too sure who is running the country. I maintain this is the only intellectually defensible position." Finally, an anonymous entry we rather liked: "The Nation is read by people who think the country should be run by the powerless."
NEWS OF THE WEAK IN REVIEW
Media monopoly update: The American Antitrust Institute called for the breakup of the Voter News Service--the polling group serving all the major TV news organizations and the AP. The AAI attributed the erroneous calls by these media on election night to lack of competition among their exit pollsters.