Palm Beach County - Part 6
Mass Hysteria: "A condition affecting a group of persons, characterized by excitement or anxiety, irrational behavior or beliefs, or inexplicable symptoms of illness."
On the previous pages I have tried to demonstrate that the concern in Palm Beach County regarding the ballot design is largely contrived and overstated. But what about anecdotal evidence? What about people who voted in Palm Beach and are convinced there was a problem?
Is it possible that people were told their votes were in jeopardy? Is it possible that significant confusion happened after people voted?
Early in the day concern indeed had been expressed about the design of the ballot. Talk began to swirl and gain momentum as people complained about its "confusing" layout. Reporters picked up on the story and were dispatched. Complaints also came into Teresa LePore's office (Supervisor of Elections in Palm Beach).
As word had made its way through the Democrat circles they began to take action in an effort to ward off problems.
"We were out talking about it publicly by 10:30 a.m.", Gore spokesman Dan Pfeiffer said (cite).
Dana Kennedy, a staffer at the Gore headquarters, made up a flier to warn voters. "We couldn't get them out on the street quickly enough," she said (cite).
Joan Joseph, a county coordinator for Gore, instructed her workers to call voters to warn them about the ballots. "... every third person was saying that they thought they voted for Buchanan (cite)."
Really? One out of three? Does that sound realistic? Buchanan must have been wracking up a hundred thousand votes!
As the furor picked up momentum, Lois Frankel (Florida State Representative) and Ron Klein (Florida State Senator) joined Robert Wexler (U.S. Representative) in taking action. It should be noted that Ron Klein indicated he didn't think the ballot was confusing (cite). But they began to pressure LePore.
After some discussion about what action to take, Lepore agreed to produce the following advisory that the Democrats could distribute as they wanted: "Attention all poll workers. Please remind all voters coming in that they are to vote for one (1) presidential candidate and that they are to punch the hole next to the arrow next to the number next to the candidate they wish to vote for. Thank you!"
The next day, Robert Wexler could be seen waving the yellow advisory in his hands, showing it as proof there was a problem. LePore realized she had been duped.
"When you get elected officials coming in and telling you there was a problem, it becomes reactionary . . . you try to remedy the problem on the spot...", LePore said (cite).
Robert Wexler seemed to view the ballot issue as a new political calling. He spent most of his time in the following days organizing an intense campaign to broadcast his message that the election was a disaster.
Later on Election Day (after 3:00), Randi Rhodes, a liberal radio host, declared on the air, "I think I voted for a Nazi". Callers said they were baffled by the ballot design and are convinced they voted for Buchanan. Rhodes gave out a phone number for people to call. The number was to a law office.
A short while later, Senator Joseph Lieberman (Gore's running mate) went on the air with Rhodes. Although he claimed not to hear of the ballot problem, he praised the idea of taking affidavits of those who were victimized. He warned, "The affidavit idea is very important. Because if the election is close, there's going to be contests all over America. (cite)"
Wexler also appeared on her show for an hour as part of his new campaign.
The next effort by Democrats was to launch a massive telemarketing campaign. Telequest was urgently contacted by Gore's campaign headquarters located in Nashville. The company was instructed to contact as many citizens as it could before the election ended at 7:00.
"They wanted us to make 74,000 contacts in Palm Beach County," said Wade Scott, TeleQuest's political account director (Citation).
The company ultimately managed to reach around 4,400 people before the polls closed. But they utilized a "push poll" to broadcast an alarming message. They told citizens there was an election "problem", some kind of breakdown or scheme. They told citizens that voters were accidently punching the wrong hole, thereby selecting the wrong choice for President. The message suggested to voters that they return to the polling centers if they feel they were victims of the problem. They should have their names taken down.
Was it responsible for Democrats to broadcast a message of this nature on Election Day? Before polls were closed? Before ballots were viewed? Before there was any empirical evidence of a problem?
What were they trying to achieve?
By instructing voters to return to the polling center and have their names written down indicates they were preparing for litigation. They were mobilizing. They were shaping public opinion. They were trying to destroy the integrity of the election.
Could this orchestrated hysteria have been the beginning steps of a larger plan to take Florida? Remember, a short while later the networks mysteriously declared that Gore was the winner of the state.
A Note About Telequest
Telequest was founded in 1986 by Gordon McKenna, who is believed to be a Republican supporter. The company was noted for its rapid growth, providing telemarketing services for prominent credit card and communication companies. Despite their rapid growth they ran into financial trouble in early 2000 and began bouncing checks, including payroll. In June they filed for bankruptcy. Likewise, just prior to the election an Indian company named the Essar Group agreed to acquired the company. The deal took place nine days after the election.
Telequest occupied three floors of the Copeland Tower located at 850 Copeland Drive, Arlington, Texas.