WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – Palm Beach County has introduced an absentee ballot that requires voters to indicate their choices by connecting broken arrows, sparking criticism that it is even more confusing than the infamous "butterfly ballot" used in the 2000 election.
Theresa LePore (search), the elections supervisor who approved the 2000 butterfly ballot, opted for a ballot design for the Aug. 31 primary that asks voters to draw lines joining two ends of an arrow.
Critics say the new ballot is not an improvement.
"People do the crazier things when they're asked to connect the arrows," said Stephen Ansolabehere, former director of the Voting Technology Project (search), a collaboration between the California and Massachusetts Institutes of Technology.
LePore said she selected the ballot after tests showed it was easier for voters. Indian River County elections supervisor Kay Klem said she went with arrows for the same reason.
LePore said she would be criticized no matter what she picked. "If I had used circles, they'd complain about the circles," she said.
Her butterfly ballot split the names of 10 presidential candidates across two pages, with spots in the middle to be punched by voters. The names of George W. Bush (search) and Al Gore (search) were on the upper left side of the ballot, and Pat Buchanan's name on the upper right.
Some voters complained that they punched the card for Buchanan by mistake when they meant to vote for Gore in a race decided by only 537 votes statewide. A total of 5,304 Palm Beach County ballots had marks for both Gore and Buchanan.
Election supervisors say the demand for absentee ballots is shattering records because of get-out-the-vote drives and distrust of touch-screen voting machines. Palm Beach County received 30,752 absentee requests by Friday, nearly three times the number requested before the 2000 primary.