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Chronology of Seminole, Martin cases

SEE: Absentee ballot fraud in 6 Florida counties

SEE: Main page for other new election developments

For daily updates on election irregularities and fraud and questionable Bush conduct, see or The Bush Watch.


Courts rule for defense in Seminole, Martin cases as new evidence discloses additional fraud was involved.  The Florida Supreme Court sustained the lower court rulings.  (For more on these cases, see Summary - Background - Details - Legal docs.)



  • Florida Supreme Court sustains lower court rulings in both cases.

  • LA Times: Seminole, Martin cases appealed.1 

  • LA Times: Seminole, Martin judges found that the law was broken and election policy violated in both cases.2 

12/8: The Bay County absentee ballot case was dismissed 12/7 by a circuit court judge3 - here is the "hypertechnicality" involved in that case:

1. In violation of Florida law that provides people may submit no more than two absentee ballots of non-family members, "witnesses in the Bay County case allege in sworn statements that Republicans turned in 'handfuls' and in one case a suitcase-full of absentee ballots."4 

2. Absentee ballot votes went 9,000 to 3,000 for Bush in Bay County.5 

3. Total votes in Bay County went 38,637 to 18,850 for Bush; voter registration in Bay County is 48% Democratic v. 37% GOP (43,462 to 33,273).6 


12/8 +

1. LA Times, 12/12/2000, p. A30.

2. LA Times, 12/9/2000, p.A26.

3. Washington Post, 12/8/2000, p. A33.

4. Washington Post, 12/6/2000, p. A25.

5. AP 12/7/2000.

6. Data from Florida Dept. of State, Div. of Elections: election and voter registration data.


12/7: Depositions show additional fraud

An elections clerk confirmed under oath1 that GOP operative Leach entered wrong voter ID numbers on many or most of the 2,126 GOP absentee ballot requests, as had been discovered by an examination of those forms.2  Goard instructed her staff to process all of Leach's forms without checking voter ID numbers, contrary to office policy and practice for forms with bad voter ID numbers.3 (See details, depositions.)


The sequence of events was thus:

Sept. 2000: GOP makes mistake, omits voter IDs on mass mailing.

Solution: BREAK THE LAW, send in GOP operative Leach.

Oct. 2000: Leach fumbles the fix, enters wrong voter IDs.

Solution: BREAK THE LAW again, accept all of Leach forms.

In each case, the law and office policy was selectively violated only for the GOP forms with missing or bad voter ID numbers.


12/7 media coverage

December 7 media coverage4 will soon be superceded by news of the court rulings and progress of subsequent appeals.


12/6 trial proceedings on Seminole case

Depositions released in the Seminole case revealed new evidence of intentional fraud.  Many of the 2,126 voter ID numbers that GOP operative Michael Leach illegally added to GOP absentee ballot requests proved to be incorrect.  Elections office staff members stated under oath that supervisor Goard instructed them to accept all requests forms filled in by Leach whether the voter ID number was correct or incorrect (this from a journalist in the courtroom, pending final confirmation with documents in hand).  In contrast, trial testimony established that Goard had repeatedly and publicly stated her policy that no absentee ballot request would be accepted without the voter ID filled in by the voter, family member or guardian as required by Florida law.

The defense did not contest that GOP operative Michael Leach worked 15-21 days unsupervised in Seminole election offices adding voter IDs to  2,126 GOP-mailed absentee ballot request forms.  Goard had her staff separate those from the others, which went into the discard pile.  Goard had stated under oath that she didn't know either the GOP official who first called her or the people working with Leach, but plaintiff introduced sworn depositions contradicting both those assertions.


12/6 media coverage


Several media stories provided initial coverage of the trial5 or reviewed the Seminole and Martin County cases coincident with the opening of these trials.6  The Mobile Register provided a particularly good review of legal precedents, including Roe v. Alabama,7 and CNN considered possible court outcomes.8 


12/5 highlights

  • AP: Al Gore said outside the White House, "There were more than enough votes to make the difference that were apparently thrown into the trash can by the supervisor of elections there."9 

  • On Sunday, The Bush-Cheney campaign faxed a 7-page attack against plaintiff Harry Jacobs to newspapers around the country.

  • Judge Clark dismissed GOP motions to dismiss and for judgment on the pleadings.

  • See CSPAN video archive on Seminole case 12/5 hearings

  • In a just-released 11/30 deposition, GOP operative Michael Leach said "I'm a military man.  I follow orders."10 He admitted filling in voter ID numbers only on GOP-provided absentee ballot forms, that had been separated out from Democratic ones by Goard's staff, on orders from Florida GOP political director Todd Schnick.11  He did this in Seminole County elections offices October 19 thru November 2.12 (See latest news on for detailed summary.)

12/3-5 NEWS from court hearings and documents:

  • A Plaintiff's expert witness who examined election office records and databases will testify that a "significant number" of the voter IDs filled in by the GOP were actually incorrect, yet all accepted by Goard.13 

  • According to sworn affidavits, Goard told two Democratic campaign workers on August 18, 2000 that she would accept no absentee ballot request that was missing a voter ID number.  She "emphasized that this was required by Florida state law."  When asked where to get voter ID numbers, she said her office "does not give out voter ID numbers."14 

  • In an Orlando WDBO radio interview broadcast as GOP workers were doctoring ballots in Goard's office, Goard stated that absentee ballot requests without voter IDs would not be honored.15 

12/3-4 highlights:

  • Time: "Seminole County, a ticking time bomb."16 

  • Orlando Sentinel: Seminole defendants cite precedent case supporting Gore recount position.17 

  • Wall Street Journal: "Seminole, Martin Counties' cases may tip scales" - both to be resolved this week.18 

  • Maureen Dowd: "The Bushes sense trouble in Seminole and Martin Counties with those G.O.P.-doctored absentee ballot applications."19 

Goard instructed elections staff to process all Leach forms with bad voter ID numbers.  Asked in her sworn deposition if the numbers Leach had written were "scrambled" or "correct," Seminole elections clerk Eleanor Bailey replied, "scrambled."20  She replied "yes" to a follow-up question: "The numbers he was writing were scrambled?"21  This confirmed the conclusion of a plaintiff witness from review of the records that many of the voter IDs Leach entered were incorrect.22  Bailey's replies quoted above indeed indicated that Leach's voter IDs were typically incorrect.  Deputy elections supervisor Dennis Joyner stated in his sworn deposition that for the requests that Leach filled in, "we basically used the address," and the voter ID number was not checked for validity.23 


Bailey also stated that for the GOP forms filled in by Leach, the voter ID number was not checked.24  Bailey stated that for forms other than those altered by Leach, she would always check the voter ID number and would ask for assistance if she found an incorrect number;25 another clerk, Bonnie Eaton, testified that she would never process an absentee ballot request with an incorrect voter ID number.26  The defense did not contest extensive trial testimony and depositions demonstrating that Goard had repeatedly and publicly communicated office policy that no absentee ballot request would be accepted without a valid voter ID number.  Clerk Eleanor Bailey explicitly confirmed that she followed a different policy for checking the Leach forms as for other absentee ballot requests.27 


Download Notice of Filing, Excerpts from Deposition Transcripts, cited selections (10k, rtf format suitable for MS Word and other programs).



1. Notice of Filing, Excerpts of Deposition Transcripts, excerpts from the 11/30 depositions of elections clerk Eleanor Bailey and Assistant Elections Supervisor Dennis Joyner.

2. Plaintiff's Expert Witness Disclosure Regarding James C. Erlandson.

3. As cited in (1) above.

4. Washington Post 12/7/2000, p. A25; LA Times 12/7/2000, p. A1; Newsday 12/7/2000, p. A5; AP 12/7/2000; CNN 12/7/2000; Wall Street Journal 12/7/2000, p. A28.

5. Washington Post 12/6/2000; CNN 12/6/2000.

6. LA Times 12/6/2000, p. A1; Washington Post 12/6/2000, p. A25; NPR Morning Edition 12/6/2000; USA Today 12/6/2000, p. 3A; NY Times 12/6/2000, p. 1.

7. Mobile Register, 12/6/2000.

8. CNN 12/6/2000.

9. AP 12/5/2000; USA Today 12/6/2000, p. 3A.

10. November 30 Deposition of Michael Leach.

11. Ibid.

12. Ibid.

13. Plaintiff's Expert Witness Disclosure Regarding James C. Erlandson.

14. Affidavits of W. Patrick Westerfield and Steve Hall.

15. US Newswire 12/3/2000.

16. Time 12/4/2000.

17. Orlando Sentinel, 12/5/2000.

18. Wall Street Journal 12/4/2000, p. A16.

19. NY Times 12/3/2000.

20. Notice of Filing, Excerpts of Deposition Transcripts, excerpts from the 11/30 depositions of elections clerk Eleanor Bailey, bookmarked section.

21. Ibid.

22. Plaintiff's Expert Witness Disclosure Regarding James C. Erlandson.

23. Notice of Filing, Excerpts of Deposition Transcripts, excerpts from the 11/30 depositions of deputy elections supervisor Dennis Joyner, bookmarked section.

24. Notice of Filing, Excerpts of Deposition Transcripts, excerpts from the 11/30 depositions of elections clerk Eleanor Bailey, bookmarked section.

25. Notice of Filing, Excerpts of Deposition Transcripts, excerpts from the 11/30 depositions of elections clerk Eleanor Bailey, bookmarked section.

26. Testimony of Bonnie Eaton, as quoted in the trial transcript.

27. Notice of Filing, Excerpts of Deposition Transcripts, excerpts from the 11/30 depositions of elections clerk Eleanor Bailey, bookmarked section.


12/1-2 highlights:

  • Washington Post: In a deposition last week, "Goard said her office sorted out the Republican rejects so they could be revised, but left rejected Democratic and independent applications sitting in a discard box."1 

  • LA Times: More than 550 similar Democratic ballot requests with missing information were rejected.2 

  • AP, Orlando Sentinel: GOP operative Michael Leach fixed 2,100 GOP absentee ballot requests over 15 days.  A elections computer was logged on in the room where he worked, unsupervised.3 

  • LA Times: Plaintiff's attorney confirmed that GOP fixed 2,132 absentee ballot requests that yielded 1,936 actual votes, 95% for Bush.4 

  • LA Times: Democrats point out that altering an absentee ballot application is a third-degree felony in Florida.5 

  • NY Times: Florida law lists the information, including the voter identification number, that ''the person making the request must disclose.''6 

  • NY Times: The Florida Court of Appeals affirmed Judge Clark's denial of a GOP request to recuse herself from the case.7 

  • AP: Seminole elections office stopped notifying voters about incomplete absentee ballot requests in early October, when GOP operatives began fixing GOP absentee ballot requests.8 

  • Palm Beach Post: Plaintiff's handwriting analysis indicates 1,900 ballot requests were altered.9 

  • NY Times, Wash. Post: Democrats suit for Martin County ballot request alterations goes to trial also 2/6 before circuit court judge Terry Lewis (non-overlapping times; download complaint filing).10 

  • US Newswire: Testimony 11/30 by elections office employees contradicts Goard's claim that she did not know the GOP operatives who fixed absentee ballot requests in her office.11

The Orlando Sentinel reported on December 5 that a lawyer for individual absentee voters supporting Goard's defense cited a 1996 Volusia County case as precedent.12  In that case, elections officials remarked 6,000 absentee ballots with a felt-tipped pen because the ballots were too light to register on vote-counting machines; a court ruled that the darkened ballots could be counted.13  The precedent would have been relevant to the Seminole case if GOP workers had darkened only the GOP absentee ballots and left the Democratic ones unread, and if the court found that acceptable.  The 1996 case does appear relevant, however, to recount disputes concerning 10,000 ballots in Dade county that registered no presidential vote during a machine count.


Continued in news archive (11/27 - 11/30)


References, 12/1-2 and 12/5 note

1.  Washington Post, 12/1/2000, p. A25.

2. LA Times, 12/2/2000, p. A20.

3. Orlando Sentinel 12/1/2000, p. A19; AP 12/1/2000.

4. LA Times, 12/2/2000, p. A20.

5. Ibid.

6. NY Times, 12/2/2000, p. 9.

7. NY Times, 12/2/2000, p. 9; US Newswire 12/1/2000.

8. AP 12/1/2000.

9. Palm Beach Post 12/1/2000.

10. NY Times, 12/2/2000, p. 9; Washington Post 12/2/2000, p. A16.

11. US Newswire 12/1/2000.

12. Orlando Sentinel, 12/5/2000.

13. Ibid.