latimes.com: Black leaders sue to overturn election
TALLAHASSEE, Florida (Los Angeles Times) -- African American leaders from Jacksonville, Fla., filed a lawsuit contesting the presidential election, charging that George W. Bush was declared the certified winner in Florida only after minorities were systematically denied the right to vote.
The lawsuit, filed in Leon County Circuit Court on Tuesday evening, says that while votes were tossed out across the state after the election, a disproportionate number were tossed out in African American communities.
"The people that I represent have died to have the opportunity to vote," said U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown, a Florida Democrat and an African American who is a plaintiff in the case. She was joined by several other African American leaders, as well as the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, the civil rights group founded by the Rev. Jesse Jackson.
"People are very upset," Brown said. "They are stopping me in the grocery stores and in church, asking me what I'm going to do about it. . . . There is not a doubt in my mind that Al Gore won the state of Florida."
Brown said the suit was filed independent of the Gore campaign.
Republicans said they had not seen the lawsuit and could not comment on it.
In Duval County, the northeastern Florida county that includes the city of Jacksonville, Texas Gov. Bush received 58% of the vote. Vice President Gore received 41%.
But the county had an unusually large number of votes that were thrown out because they were "undervotes," and did not contain a presidential vote that a machine could read, or so-called overvotes, invalid because they contained more than one vote for president.
Overwhelmingly, those votes came from the county's four black City Council districts, created to ensure a minority voice when Jacksonville combined with Duval County more than two decades ago. Those districts are believed to represent the largest concentration of blacks in Florida, and Gore received as much as 98% of the vote in some precincts there.
According to the lawsuit, 26,000 ballots were not counted in Duval County. More than 9,000 were cast in largely African American precincts where Gore captured more than 90% of the vote.
What's more, the lawsuit claims that a "motor-voter" program, which allows drivers to register to vote or update a voter registration record when applying for a driver's license, backfired in Duval County. There, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles never gave completed voter registration applications to the Duval County supervisor of elections, the lawsuit charges.
The lawsuit also charges that voting equipment problems and a botched sample ballot led to thousands of invalid ballots.
According to the suit, equipment difficulties, such as misaligned punch cards, led to undervotes because voters had difficulty pressing a stylus through the ballot.
And, the suit says, sample ballots passed out in Duval County were different from the ballots used on election day. The sample ballots listed presidential candidates on one page, while the actual ballot had two pages of presidential candidates.
The suit says the actual ballot led thousands of people to choose more than one candidate for president.
The lawsuit aggressively seeks to overturn the election, demanding that:
--Uncounted votes from Duval County be taken to the Leon County Circuit Court for safekeeping;
--Those ballots undergo a manual recount;
--A judge order Secretary of State Katherine Harris and the Florida Elections Canvassing Commission to certify Gore as the winner of Florida's 25 electoral votes.