Brother's Keeper

Finally, the governor is standing up for the famous subspecies of human often called by its scientific name, electis moronis. I am, of course, talking about you, the common voter.

The voter is no stranger to scorn and humiliation; he is a creature that has adapted to ridiculous amounts of abuse over the decades. Ever wondered how depressing it must have been to cast a vote for, say, Chester Arthur? As horrible as that was, the subspecies has never seen such a dark age as this.

But fear no more, good voter. Help is on the way. Gov. Jeb Bush and his appointees on the Florida Elections Commission have decided to fix the broken electoral system.

"How?" you ask as you dunk your half-eaten beef jerky into your cup of Irish, stub out your Pall Mall, and finally give your mind a rest from that nasty bit of business you got caught up in last week. "How do we heal after the butterfly ballot, the U.S. Supreme Court appointment of the president, the electronic voting irregularities, and, most horrific of all, the haunting Howard Dean scream in Iowa?"

Bush has your answer: We first must loot former Broward County Elections Supervisor Miriam Oliphant's personal bank account and -- keep those fingers crossed! -- maybe, just maybe, we can ruin her finances for the rest of her life.

That's how.

It's only a dream, but there was once a fellow called Martin who had a dream, and look at his phenomenal success (a hit TV show and the Bad Boys blockbuster movie franchise, for starters). The founders of this country also had a dream -- and we can help make it come true if we, as a society, can ultimately force Oliphant to eat dinner from a can of cat food off her kitchen floor sometime in the near future.

Oliphant must be financially gutted because she oversaw some terrible indignities at the Broward polls during the 2002 primary, and I'm not just talking about the humiliating choice between Bill McBride and Janet Reno. There were a bunch of other problems too, like precincts opening late and closing early, machines working improperly, and other shockingly common events.

Anyway, Bush booted Oliphant from office before the 2004 election, thank goodness. If that had not happened, I bet the elections office would have been plagued by ridiculous technical problems. Voters would have had to wait in obscenely long lines during the early voting process, and thousands of absentee ballots would have probably been misplaced.

I know what you're thinking, as you pull up your pants in the back alley, suddenly regretting taking them down in the first place. You're thinking, hey, all that stuff happened anyway. But what you're missing is that it would have seemed a lot worse if Oliphant had been in charge when it happened. Clearly, you have no understanding of politics.

But enough about you. What we need to focus on now is a scarred and ruined ex-politician and her role in the meaningless 2002 primary. And rest assured that the Elections Commission has our backs on that one. It charged Oliphant with 55 counts of, according to the indictment, "being really stupid and dumb." At $1,000 per guilty verdict, that comes up to some decent scratch. But first, the commission must prove its case at the trial, which has been graced with the presence of a quasi-celebrity, Franz Kafka III, the great writer's grandson. Bush named Kafka to be Oliphant's judge, even though he has no legal experience and has in fact spent most of his life working for the European arm of Orkin in Vienna. Kafka speaks no English, which legal experts predict will increase his understanding of the case.

To make sure we get Miriam O's money, the commission brought in a star witness last week: Former Palm Beach Supervisor of Elections Teresa LePore. You may remember her from 2000, when she conjured up the wonderfully mischievous butterfly ballot. Who could forget the time she spoiled 20,000 votes, made 3,500 elderly liberal Jews vote for Pat Buchanan, and in the process turned an American presidential election upside down? Classic. Even Kafka had heard about it.

LePore testified that she phoned Oliphant to offer her professional assistance before the 2002 primary. She recorded the call, which was played in the Fort Lauderdale courtroom last week:

"Hi, Miriam. It's Teresa, designer of the butterfly ballot. How'd you like me to get down there and help you run your primary?"

"Who is this really?" Oliphant answered, laughing hysterically. "Robin McKinzie Darville, is that you?"

"Who is Robin McKinzie Darville?"

"My sister. She's a riot. Seriously, is this some twisted new version of Crank Yankers or something?"

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Journalist Bob Norman has been raking the muck of South Florida for the past 25 years. His work has led to criminal cases against corrupt politicians, the ouster of bad judges from the bench, and has garnered dozens of state, regional, and national awards.
Contact: Bob Norman