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As the drama over the presidential election unfolds, questions continue to arise about the design of the ballot in Palm Beach, Fla. The placement of candidates’ names on the ballot is based on party votes garnered during the state’s last gubernatorial election. Since Gov. Jeb Bush, a Republican, won the most votes, the Republican presidential candidate — his brother — would be first on the ballot. His name would be followed by a Democrat. But in the hole-punch order, that is, from top to bottom, Pat Buchanan actually took the second spot. The reason for the design isn’t clear. Palm Beach County elections supervisor Theresa LePore declined to comment. Meanwhile, six more voters on Thursday sued LePore’s office demanding a new county election. Three suits in two days underscore claims that the so-called “butterfly ballot” design not only confused and frustrated voters, but that more than 19,000 Palm Beach County voters double-punched for president, invalidating those ballots. Fewer than 300 votes separated Democrat Al Gore and Republican George W. Bush from the White House as of Thursday evening. In each of the suits filed Thursday and the first filed in Palm Beach Circuit Court on Wednesday, voters are demanding a new county presidential election. Plaintiffs Sharon Elkin and Florence and Alex Zoltowsky in their suit, filed on Thursday, not only allege that the ballot was confusing and misleading but that it was illegal, since it was “impossible to properly determine the voting area to punch in order to vote for the candidate of their choice.” Patrick W. Lawlor of Young & Lawlor in Deerfield Beach represents the three. Within 20 minutes after the courthouse opened Thursday, Boca Raton, Fla., lawyer Mark A. Cullen of the Szymoniak Firm filed suit for Kenneth A. Horowitz, Catherine A. Bowser and Sylvia Szymoniak and others similarly situated — the first suit that makes a bid at a class action. All suits repeat a common legal theme of a bogus and illegal ballot. Florida statutes require that the punch hole be located to the right of the candidate’s name. The Palm Beach ballot crisscrossed, with Bush first on the left, Reform Party candidate Pat Buchanan second on the right and Gore third on the left. The resulting confusion served as cornerstone of the current torrent of protests in and outside of court. A couple of blocks from the Palm Beach Courthouse, at the Lytal Reiter Clark Fountain & Williams firm, a phone bank of volunteers continued fielding complaints from county citizens who claim they were disenfranchised by the flawed ballot. “The calls just still come in,” said Mark Clark, whose firm is volunteering to help the Gore-Lieberman camp. Clark said a number of complaints focus on double-punching. Voters, he said, thought they had to punch once for Gore and another time for Lieberman, again a product of a possibly confusing butterfly ballot. More than 2,100 voters have registered their protest with Lytal Reiter’s phone volunteers. The firm, however, is not yet involved in the legal fracas. “People are just irate about this and feel cheated,” said Clark. The Rev. Jesse Jackson picked up on that theme, calling Palm Beach County’s voting process a “wreck” during a lunchtime rally Thursday outside the county government center. “We do not know who won or lost because we do not have a fair count on the first vote,” Jackson said to hundreds who filled a brick courtyard separating the 12-story county administration building from the old, abandoned courthouse. The crowd, most of them waving Gore-Lieberman signs, chanted: “Re-vote. Re-vote. Re-vote.” An hour later, Jackson was joined by U.S. Rep. Robert Wexler, D-Boca Raton, in an impromptu press conference. Wexler charged that Palm Beach County’s so-called butterfly ballots, which listed presidential candidates on facing pages, were illegal. Confusion also was expressed by Milton H. Miller, a Palm Beach County voter who filed and then withdrew his federal suiton Thursday. Miller had asked for, and received, an emergency hearing before U.S. District Judge Kenneth Ryskamp. Miller had claimed that because of the faulty design of the Palm Beach County ballot, he had voted for Buchanan instead of his actual choice, Gore. Miller had asked the court to issue a preliminary injunction preserving the election results and to order a new election. Miller’s attorney, Lawrence J. Navarro, a sole practitioner in North Miami Beach, gave no reason for dropping the suit. Palm Beach lawyer Robert Montgomery and Bruce Rogow, a constitutional lawyer in Fort Lauderdale, were prepared to defend Theresa LePore, the supervisor of elections for Palm Beach County. Miller had also sued Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris, he department and its Division of Elections. The only real action came when Judge Ryskamp entered the courtroom. As attorneys and rows of reporters stood, a man in the back shouted that the Democrats were stealing the election, punctuating that with the cry, “Bush! Bush! Bush!” Ryskamp ordered the man removed.

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