Monday, June 2, 2008

A Modest Proposal to the Florida Secretary of State

This is from the AP wire:

TALLAHASSEE — Florida’s Secretary of State says it doesn’t make sense to continue taking up state archive space with ballots from the 2000 presidential election.

Secretary of State Kurt Browning tells The Miami Herald he’d like to free up space in the archive that holds the ballots — more than 4,000 cubic feet of them. Browning told the paper in an article published Sunday that he wants to seriously consider moving them out sometime after the 2008 elections.

“What purpose do they serve?” said Browning, who as Secretary of State oversees the Division of Elections. “I have a hard time giving away valuable space for more than 5,000 boxes.” Browning said “political reasons” keep him from doing anything with the ballots right now, adding that it wouldn’t look good if a “Republican secretary of state is doing away with ballots that elected a Republican president.”

Browning, who was appointed by Gov. Charlie Crist in 2006, said the ballots could never be used to recreate yet another recount. Browning says the ballots have been handled so many times that any loose chads may have finally fallen out. He said it’s only a matter of time before the paper used to make the ballots will begin to deteriorate.

The Miami Herald talked to Browning about the ballots in the wake of the recent HBO movie about the 2000 election, Recount. In the final seconds of the movie, row after row of election ballots are shown sitting inside a gigantic warehouse.

I have a suggestion to solve Secretary Browning's problem. Consider it a modest proposal.

The fact is Secretary Browning is correct: there's no reasonable way to use the Palm Beach ballots for a recount now. And even if there were, the best anyone could hope for is either a confirmation or an "I toldja so." Neither would be terribly helpful.

Yet, it seems a shame that such important historical artifacts would simply be destroyed. So here's what the Secretary could do.

Come January, the present administration will end and George W. Bush will retire. It is customary for a former President to found a library to archive all the important papers and showcase all the proud accomplishments of his term in office.

If Secretary Browning can hang on to those boxes and boxes of ballots for just a few more months, I'm certain that once The George W. Bush Presidential Library is up and running, it would be all too happy to give the ballots a place of honor. After all, they made his administration possible.

Everyone wins. Secretary Browning gets his shelf space. The Library gets a marvelous exhibit.

And the people of Palm Beach get to know that the votes they cast in 2000 were of some small use.

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