Gore rolls up delegates in Michigan, Minnesota, Arizona
Internet voting helps Arizona set record
By Scott Thomsen, Associated Press, 03/12/00
The state's voters had a choice of using traditional paper ballots or computer terminals at most of the 124 polling sites. Mail in ballots also were available. Even without a competitive race, more than 35,000 people -- three times as many as participated in 1996 -- had cast ballots in early Internet voting completed Friday. An additional 20,000 mail-in ballots also were cast.
Saturday's voting at polling sites offering paper ballots as well as Internet voting stations raised the total to about 76,000, double the previous highest turnout since the party switched from a nominating convention to a primary in 1984
With 93 percent of the paper ballot and Internet vote counted, Gore had 55,508, or 78 percent, to 14,198, or 20 percent, for Bradley and 1,087, or 2 percent, for Indiana businesswoman Heather Anne Harder, the only other person on the ballot.
The rest of the vote, including the mail ballots, was to be counted later and party officials said the final vote and delegate awards would not be announced until the vote count was finished, possibly Sunday.
But with Gore already having the nomination assured and his rival, former Sen. Bill Bradley, out of the race, the story became more about how Arizona Democrats voted to allocate 31 delegates than who they voted for.
A total of 234 Democratic delegates were being decided this weekend in Arizona, Michigan and Minnesota. The three states have a total of 295 delegates, including at-large delegates not selected by primary or caucus.
In Michigan caucuses Saturday, Gore had 15,854 votes to 3,117 for Bradley with all 135 caucus sites reporting and all mail-in ballots counted. That translated to at least 107 delegates for Gore and 7 for Bradley, with the allocation in three congressional districts unavailable Saturday night as voters chose 129 of Michigan's 157 total delegates.
While not as groundbreaking at Arizona's Internet voting, Michigan Democrats allowed mail voting for the first time and more than 75 percent of the caucus ballots were cast by mail.
With 93 of 111 precincts reporting after the first of two days of Minnesota caucuses, Gore had 74 percent of the votes to 12 percent for Bradley in contests for 74 of the state's 91 total delegates. However, a candidate has to get at least 15 percent of the votes cast in a congressional district to win any delegates and Bradley had not reached that threshold anywhere Saturday. Were that pattern to hold true Sunday, Gore would get all 74 of the delegates.
Arizona party officials were excited about the turnout, expecting the highest number of ballots since Arizona switched from a nominating convention to a primary in 1984. "What a nice problem to have, the place being busy," state Party Chairman Mark Fleisher said. "Not too many elections have had that problem."
Arizona's vote was a glimpse at the future, said Phil Noble, president of PoliticsOnline, a South Carolina-based company that provides Internet tools for politics.
"There are millions of people who want to participate and they're telling us the Internet is the way they want to participate," Noble said. "What Arizona proves is it's going to happen a lot faster than anyone imagined."
But the future didn't arrive without some glitches, usually associated with the large number of people participating.
Ute Brady of Scottsdale, a native of Germany who exercised her first vote since becoming a U.S. citizen, wasn't able to vote online at Scottsdale Community College because of the heavy volume. But she said since it was her first election, she preferred using a paper ballot anyway.
Millie Cunningham of Phoenix, also had problems. She tried repeatedly to log on from home to cast her vote, but she said all she ever got was a busy message or a blank computer screen. She finally decided to cast a paper ballot the old fashion way. "It sounds so easy to do. I wanted to do it," she said.
But Bill Burns, 63, a Phoenix engineer, said he found no problems and would like to see the Internet used in general elections.