Column Date 2006-11-30

Tired of being butt of election jokes, Florida fights back

Tallahassee, FL ---- Folks in Florida are losing their patience. “People laugh at us after every election,” complains State Senator Rusty Boggs of Arcadia, “and we’re sick and tired of it.”

The laughter, explained the Senator, usually comes from smug people in other states who, for some reason, never seem to have any voting problems.

“It’s about time we put a stop to all that laughing and snickering,” he said. “And I have the perfect way to do it -- an idea that will show the world that we Floridians can turn a negative into a positive.”

It’s an event that Senator Boggs calls “The Disappearance of the Votes” Pageant.

Since Florida votes disappear like clockwork every two years, he is confident the first Pageant can be scheduled for November of 2008.

The Senator also points out that November happens to be the perfect time of year for a new tourist event: it’s well before Florida’s peak winter season, and just when Florida’s hotel and restaurant businesses could use a boost.

A copy of his marketing proposal to the Senate Tourism & Waterways Committee, obtained by, outlines the proposed Pageant:

a. During “The Disappearance of the Votes” Pageant, tourists will participate in mock elections, using both Diebold and ES&S touch-screen voting machines certified by the State of Florida.

Imagine their astonishment as votes vanish before their eyes! Watch them marvel as losers magically turn into winners! And what fun they’ll have as teams of lawyers argue obscure points of Florida election law nobody understands!

b. Computer experts from around the country will participate in the world’s first “Speed Hacking Tournament” to see who can break into various brands of electronic voting machines the fastest.

c. Guided tours will also take visitors through a high-security facility to see votes being recounted, and where they might even catch a glimpse of state election officials scratching their heads in complete bewilderment.

d. To show people how it was done in the good old days, a series of dioramas will feature life-like wax figures of George W. Bush, Al Gore, Jeb Bush, Katherine Harris and the entire Supreme Court of the United States.

e. A hands-on demonstration area will allow visitors to look at, and touch, real hanging chads. (Chads from the Presidential election of 2000 will also be sold in the gift shop. A rare ‘dimpled chad,’ embedded in a plexiglass cube, will sell for $125.)

f. “The Disappearance of the Votes” Pageant will make Florida the envy of every other state in the union – and the projected increase in tourism and state income will stop people from laughing at us once and for all.

“The real crime of our voting fiasco,” says Senator Boggs, “is if we just sit around and don’t take advantage of it.”

“Turning adversity into opportunity is the American way.”

©2006 Peter Tannen