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'Arrows Didn't Line Up' Ex-Cornell Registrar Saw Problem On His Palm Beach Ballot


James Q. Lynch


PALM BEACH, Fla. - Charles Milhauser noticed the problem as soon as he looked at the ballot.

"The arrows didn't line up with the names," the retired Cornell College professor and registrar explained. "I immediately thought, 'This is going to be a problem.' "

Milhauser, who moved to Tequesta, in Palm Beach County, Fla., after retiring from Cornell in 1993, said Thursday it wasn't the first time he noticed the problem when voting. He described the "butterfly-type" ballot as being like a spiral notebook: "When you turn the page the holes don't always line up."

Milhauser is confident he cast his vote for Vice President Al Gore, but only because he kept his "fingernail on the place to make certain I didn't punch the wrong hole."

"But I could see that it would be a problem, especially for elderly people with poor eyesight," Milhauser said.

Milhauser, who worked as an election official in the past, said that in the past there has been grumbling about the "dinosaur of a voting system" put together by "brainless election officials."

"It's an antiquated, bad system," Milhauser, 66, said, "but in previous elections the race has never been so close, so it's never been an issue."

As the nation waits for a recount of votes in Florida to be completed, Milhauser has become disgusted and embarrassed.

"We're the laughingstock of the world," he said. "This is a huge and very rich county, so why doesn't it employ modern technology."

Being the focus of the world's attention is "embarrassing if you have any feeling for the community where you live," Milhauser said.

"Nevertheless," he added, "hour by hour, it's exciting as well as maddening."

Reprinted with permission © 2000 The Gazette, Cedar Rapids, Iowa

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