Down For the Recount

Ride with us through a subtropical wonderland where troops rally for a new ballot

The detritus of democracy is all around: a precinct sign with masking tape stuffed in a yellow garbage can, postal boxes stacked with affidavits. A female deputy stands impassive at the door to the glassed-in room where ballots are being recounted. Her arms fold across her chest like the doorman at an exclusive nightclub.

Across the room, 41-year-old temporary Broward County employee Tony Davis slumps in a metal folding chair. "No, I didn't vote," he says, not looking up. "Just not much of a voter." Scanning the day's newspapers, he admits in hindsight he wishes he had cast a ballot. "You kinda feel like, one vote, what's it gonna matter? I guess if everyone thought that way.... " Davis will return to his usual maintenance job when he's done here. He dislikes George W. Bush: "He brought back the death penalty in Texas. We'd be into capital punishment." His coworkers agree. Few of them voted.

Yamaguchi didn't vote, either. He had to leave California and didn't remember to get an absentee ballot in time. "I kinda got screwed," he says. He consoles himself with the fact that Gore won his home state anyway. As the evening wears on, he grows repentant, then angry. "I'm a total Gore supporter. I hate Bush. Whatever hell and havoc he wreaks on this country, it's our fault."

Just before 6 p.m., Broward Supervisor of Elections Jane Carroll appears, and Yamaguchi hurries over to join the reporting horde. In the bright white lights of the cameras, Carroll's face looks pale and glowing, a full moon. Her lips are painted a patriotic crimson that appears inexplicably Republican. She reports the results of the recount, and nothing has changed, really. A young Bush supporter in white shirt and tie holds up a small disposable camera to snap a picture of the media taking pictures of Carroll. "For posterity," he drawls.

Meanwhile his Democrat counterpart ambles about in a gold Gore 2000 shirt, jeans, and flip-flops, looking dejected and collegiate, like he's just pulled an all-nighter only to find out the exam was canceled. He takes a cell phone call while nearby a blond TV reporter explains the recount in Spanish.

Outside it's déjà vu. Through the window of a CNN satellite van, the reporter's face reappears, this time on a flickering 12-inch monitor. Her voice is slightly delayed, but it doesn't matter. In Broward, at least, no one can hear her.

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