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Butterfly Ballot Designer Speaks Out

ByABC News
December 21, 2000, 9:48 AM

Dec. 21 -- Palm Beach election official Theresa LePore, who designed the butterfly ballot that many voters claimed was too confusing and led them to vote incorrectly, says she was just trying to make ballots easier for Palm Beach County voters.

Being that Im involved with a federal task force for blind and handicapped voters, Im particularly sensitive to the special needs of those citizens that fall into those categories,Theresa LePore told ABCNEWS Good Morning America in an exclusive interview.

Palm Beach County has a lot of elderly voters. I was trying to make the ballot so that it would be easier for the voters to read, which is why we went to the two-page, now known as the butterfly ballot.

Some Florida voters said left the ballot confused them and caused them to cast their ballots for Reform Party candidate Pat Buchanan instead of Vice President Al Gore.

Some Democrats say that cost Gore Floridas 25 electoral votes and allowed Texas Gov. George W.Bush to win the presidency.

A Day of ComplaintsThe first complaints, from two elderly men, about the ballot came at 10 a.m. on Election Day. LePore says she hoped it was an isolated incident, but by afternoon there was a groundswell of criticism.

She says she tried to send word to her 531 precincts to help voters navigate the ballot, but that the complaints kept rolling in.

People need to take some responsibility as well for what they do, LePore told GMA. Looking back, maybe we should have made it clearer that the presidential candidates were on two pages. I dont know. Again, I cant go back and second guess, because its something thats done.

When asked about the pattern of voting for Buchanan in some of the Democratic Jewish precincts, LePore said she did consider it suspicious.

But as normal procedure, the day after the election, we go through precinct by precinct to see if theres any anomalies or anything that looks out of the ordinary, and in some of the condo precincts and other specific precincts where he received a little bit larger percentage than normal, then thats when I started noticing that maybe something wasnt right here.