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High Court Angers Palm Beach Voters

December 14, 2000

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) _ Rabbi Richard Yellin says the U.S. Supreme Court forgot the hundreds of Palm Beach County voters who cast a vote for the wrong presidential candidate or punched the ballot twice in an attempt to fix a mistake.

``I have to try to heal the wounds,″ Yellin said of the dozens of mostly elderly people in his congregation who cast ballots on Election Day at his synagogue voting place.

Yellin and a poll worker stopped the voting at Temple Emeth and announced to citizens there was a problem with some of the ballots _ that the punch holes for presidential candidates didn’t line up with the candidates’ names on some voting machines.

``I’m not happy, and I feel like every vote should count,″ senior citizen Belle Prado Wednesday as she sat on a bench at lunch time outside Triple G’s Gourmet Deli in Delray Beach. ``I don’t feel Bush really earned it. I don’t think the Supreme Court ruling was correct.″

Many residents here refused to accept Al Gore’s defeat and couldn’t bear to think of George W. Bush as their new president.

``There is nothing they can do on earth that is going to make me call that man president,″ said Rachel Burstein, a Boca Raton voter who mistakenly cast her ballot for Buchanan instead of Gore. ``It isn’t just Florida that is being totally disenfranchised. It is all of America.″

The mood was somber at Palm Beach County Democratic headquarters, where Executive Director Peyton McArthur, who took calls and statements from angry, crying voters on Election Day, was answering ringing telephones again.

``They are saying what you would expect, that they lost quite a lot of respect for the U.S. Supreme Court,″ McArthur said. ``A lot want to know what we can do. I’m having a hard time explaining to them there is no appeal. Many are having a problem coming to terms with that.″

Andre Fladell, a plaintiff in the first lawsuit filed against the Palm Beach County Canvassing Board over the makeup of the presidential ballot, knew attempts for a fair count of ballots were over when the Florida Supreme Court ruled the Palm Beach ballot wasn’t illegal.

Fladell punched the second hole, a vote for Pat Buchanan, when he meant to vote for Gore. Buchanan took 3,704 votes in the heavily Democratic county, a much larger percentage of votes compared to other Florida counties and more than enough to put either Gore or Bush over the top.

``They (the Florida Supreme Court) said the ballot wasn’t substantially noncompliant enough. That was their ruling,″ said Fladell, a 52-year-old Delray Beach chiropractor. ``The instructions said punch the hole to the right and you had to punch the hole to the left.″

Fladell also said he lost respect for the Florida Supreme Court and U.S. Supreme Court.

``I used to hold those two as the only place above all of this political junk,″ Fladell said. ``The truth of the matter is they are no different.″

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