Thanks for reading Mike -- I'm not sure what you're looking at that you didn't find the source material but;
Let's take a look at the official documents (found at the bottom of the Wiki page) from the US Civil Rights Commission. Keep in mind -- these are reports prepared by the Executive branch to the President, President of the Senate, and the Speaker of the House -- AFTER the election of 2000.
Excerpts From the Executive Summary of the Report on Voting Irregularities in Florida During the 2000 Presidential Election United States Civil Rights Commission
Pursuant to its authority, and fulfilling its obligations, members of the Commission staff conducted a preliminary investigation and discovered widespread allegations of voter disenfranchisement in Florida in the 2000 presidential election. The Commissioners voted unanimously to conduct an extensive public investigation into these allegations of voting irregularities. Toward that end, the Commission held three days of hearings in Miami and Tallahassee and, using its subpoena powers, collected more than 30 hours of testimony from more than 100 witnesses—all taken under oath—and reviewed more than 118,000 pages of pertinent documents.
After carefully and fully examining all the evidence, the Commission found a strong basis for concluding that violations of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) occurred in Florida. The VRA was enacted in 1965 to enforce the 15th Amendment’s proscription against voting discrimination. It is aimed at both subtle and overt state action that has the effect of denying a citizen the right to vote because of his or her race. Although the VRA originally focused on enfranchising African Americans, the law has been amended several times to also include American Indians, Asian Americans, Alaskan Natives, and people of Spanish heritage. Additionally, the VRA includes a provision that recognizes the need for multilingual assistance for non-English speakers.
The VRA does not require intent to discriminate. Neither does it require proof of a conspiracy. Violations of the VRA can be established by evidence that the action or inaction of responsible officials and other evidence constitute a “totality of the circumstances” that denied citizens their right to vote. For example, if there are differences in voting procedures and voting technologies and the result of those differences is to advantage white voters and disadvantage minority voters, then the laws, the procedures, and the decisions that produced those results, viewed in the context of social and historical factors, can be discriminatory, and a violation of the VRA.
The report does not find that the highest officials of the state conspired to disenfranchise voters. Moreover, even if it was foreseeable that certain actions by officials led to voter disenfranchisement, this alone does not mean that intentional discrimination occurred. Instead, the report concludes that officials ignored the mounting evidence of rising voter registration rates in communities. The state’s highest officials responsible for ensuring efficiency, uniformity, and fairness in the election failed to fulfill their responsibilities and were subsequently unwilling to take responsibility.
The disenfranchisement of Florida’s voters fell most harshly on the shoulders of black voters. The magnitude of the impact can be seen from any of several perspectives:
- Statewide, based upon county-level statistical estimates, black voters were nearly 10 times more likely than nonblack voters to have their ballots rejected.
- Estimates indicate that approximately 14.4 percent of Florida’s black voters cast ballots that were rejected. This compares with approximately 1.6 percent of nonblack Florida voters who did not have their presidential votes counted.
- Statistical analysis shows that the disparity in ballot spoilage rates—i.e., ballots cast but not counted—between black and nonblack voters is not the result of education or literacy differences. This conclusion is supported by Governor Jeb Bush’s Select Task Force on Election Procedures, Standards and Technology, which found that error rates stemming from uneducated, uninformed, or disinterested voters account for less than 1 percent of the problems.
- Approximately 11 percent of Florida voters were African American; however, African Americans cast about 54 percent of the 180,000 spoiled ballots in Florida during the November 2000 election based on estimates derived from county-level data. These statewide estimates were corroborated by the results in several counties based on actual precinct data.
The Commission calls upon the attorney general of the United States to immediately begin the litigation process to determine liability under the VRA and appropriate remedies. The Commission is a fact-finding body, authorized to investigate allegations of voting discrimination, fraud, and other irregularities.
However, it does not adjudicate violations of the law, hold trials, or determine civil or criminal liability. It is within the jurisdiction of the U.S. Department of Justice and Florida law enforcement officials to seek appropriate sanctions and remedies. In addition to calling on the attorney general to initiate the litigation process on this issue, the Commission requests this action on a number of other issues as well, such as Florida’s handling of its voter roll purge and its failure to accommodate voters with disabilities and limited English proficiency
Florida’s governor insisted that he had no specific role in election operations and pointed to his secretary of state as the responsible official. After the election, however, the governor exercised leadership and responsibility in electoral matters in the commendable action of appointing a task force to make recommendations to fix the problems that occurred. The secretary of state, the state’s chief elections officer, denied any responsibility for the problems in the election, claiming only a “ministerial” role, her clear statutory obligations notwithstanding. Rather, she asserted that county election officials are responsible for the conduct of the election, describing her role in the policies and decisions affecting the actual voting operations as limited. However, her claims of no responsibility sharply contrast to her actions in the immediate aftermath of Election Day, when she asserted ultimate authority in determining the outcome of the vote count. On the local level, supervisors of elections in the counties that experienced the worst problems failed to prepare adequately and demand necessary resources.
This overall lack of leadership in protecting voting rights was largely responsible for the broad array of problems in Florida during the 2000 election. Furthermore, state officials ignored the pleas of some supervisors of elections for guidance and help. Especially at the highest levels, officials must take responsibility for leading on matters for which they have authority and, to the extent they do not have sole authority, to take the initiative for working with other key officials. Specific examples of the areas in which Florida officials need to improve are discussed in other parts of the Executive Summary and throughout the report. However, the need for key officials to exercise leadership in protecting the right to vote is imperative. This was not a responsibility that officials were willing to accept during the 2000 election
Purging Former Felons from the Voter Rolls
Individuals not legally entitled to vote should not be allowed to vote. Appropriate efforts to eliminate fraudulent voting strengthen the rights of legitimate voters. In fact, there are already laws in place in Florida that make it a crime to vote unlawfully. However, poorly designed efforts to eliminate fraud, as well as sloppy and irresponsible implementation of those efforts, disenfranchise legitimate voters and can be a violation of the VRA. Florida’s overzealous efforts to purge voters from the rolls, conducted under the guise of an anti-fraud campaign, resulted in the inexcusable and patently unjust removal of disproportionate numbers of African American voters from Florida’s voter registration rolls for the November 2000 election.
The purge system in Florida proceeded on the premise of guilty until proven innocent. In 1998, the Florida legislature enacted a statute that required the Division of Elections to contract with a private entity to purge its voter file of deceased persons, duplicate registrants, individuals declared mentally incompetent, and convicted felons without civil rights restoration, i.e., remove ineligible voter registrants from voter registration rolls. This purge process became known as list maintenance. Once on the list, the process places the burden on the eligible voter to justify remaining on the voter rolls. The ubiquitous errors and dearth of effective controls in the state’s list maintenance system resulted in the exclusion of voters lawfully entitled and properly registered to vote.
African American voters were placed on purge lists more often and more erroneously than Hispanic or white voters. For instance, in the state’s largest county, Miami-Dade, more than 65 percent of the names on the purge list were African Americans, who represented only 20.4 percent of the population. Hispanics were 57.4 percent of the population, but only 16.6 percent of the purge list; whites were 77.6 percent of the population but 17.6 percent of those purged.
The purposeful use of erroneous listings to promote the state’s purging priorities and the permanent disenfranchisement of discharged felons raise important questions of fundamental fairness. The state’s aggressive purging laws, policies, and practices disproportionately affect African Americans, who are disproportionately charged, convicted, and sentenced in the criminal justice system. The Commission questions Florida’s onerous and infrequently rendered clemency process. Former offenders who have paid their debt to society should have citizenship rights restored, which is already done in 36 states. Further, the report expresses disappointment that the recently enacted legislation failed to address the issue of automatic restoration of voting rights for former felons and asks that the governor recommend reform in this area of state law.
Excerpts from Chapter 9: Findings and Recommendations
The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights conducted an extensive public investigation of allegations of voting irregularities during the 2000 presidential election in Florida. The investigation, utilizing the Commission’s subpoena power, included three days of hearings, more than 30 hours of testimony, 100 witnesses, and a systematic review of more than 118,000 pages of pertinent documents.
Perhaps the most dramatic undercount in Florida’s election was the uncast ballots of countless eligible voters who were turned away at the polls or wrongfully purged from voter registration rolls.
While statistical data, reinforced by credible anecdotal evidence, point to widespread disenfranchisement and denial of voting rights, it is impossible to determine the extent of the disenfranchisement or to provide an adequate remedy to the persons whose voices were silenced in this historic election by a pattern and practice of injustice, ineptitude, and inefficiency.
Despite the closeness of the election, it was widespread voter disenfranchisement, not the dead-heat contest, that was the extraordinary feature in the Florida election. The disenfranchisement was not isolated or episodic. And state officials failed to fulfill their duties in a manner that would prevent this disenfranchisement.
The Commission does not adjudicate violations of the law, hold trials, or determine civil or criminal liability. Therefore, the recommendations that follow urge the U.S. Department of Justice and Florida officials to institute formal investigations based on the facts in this report to determine liability and to seek appropriate remedies.
The Commission is charged to “investigate allegations in writing under oath or affirmation relating to deprivations—(A) because of color, race, religion, sex, age, disability, or national origin; or (B) as a result of any pattern or practice of fraud; of the right of citizens of the United States to vote and have votes counted. . . .” The Commission is also charged with reporting its findings to the President and Congress as appropriate. The uncontroverted evidence leads the Commission to the following findings and recommendations
-During Florida’s 2000 presidential election, restrictive statutory provisions, wide-ranging errors, and inadequate resources in the Florida election process denied countless Floridians of their right to vote.
-This disenfranchisement of Florida voters fell most harshly on the shoulders of African Americans. Statewide, based on county-level statistical estimates, African American voters were nearly 10 times more likely than white voters to have their ballots rejected in the November 2000 election
-The state of Florida’s statutorily mandated purge list, compiled by a private firm, was provided to county supervisors of elections with names that were inexact matches. The data provided demonstrated that this list had at least a 14.1 percent error rate.
-African Americans had a significantly greater chance of being listed on Florida’s mandated purge list. The probability of names of African Americans appearing on the list in error was significantly greater than the likelihood of the names of whites being erroneously included on the purge list.
-The state of Florida’s use of this purge list, combined with the state law that places the burden on voters to remove themselves from the list, resulted in denying countless African Americans the right to vote.
-Florida’s statutory scheme for elections provides responsibility without accountability and contributed significantly to the disenfranchisement of Florida voters.
-The governor chose not to exercise his authority to appoint special officers to investigate alleged election law violations in response to the allegations of impropriety in the 2000 presidential election.
-The secretary of state chose to exercise authority to ensure the vote count was discontinued and that the vote was canvassed after the election, but did little to ensure that Floridians would be able to get to the polls and be permitted to vote. The secretary’s office did little to ensure that the state was prepared for the election, adequate resources were available to address problems arising on Election Day, Florida voters received adequate education on voting processes, election precincts were appropriately staffed, and election workers received needed education and training.
-The secretary of state delegated her statutory obligation before and during the 2000 presidential election, to “[o]btain and maintain uniformity in the application, operation and interpretation of the election laws” (as it relates to ensuring that legal voters would be permitted to vote) to the degree that her duty was exercised on such a discretionary basis as to be arbitrary.
Read the entire report http://www.usccr.gov/pubs/vote2000/report/main.htm
Especially Chapter 5 http://www.usccr.gov/pubs/vote2000/report/ch5.htm