Florida Absentee Vote From Israel Still A Mystery

By Julie Stahl | July 7, 2008 | 8:08 PM EDT

Jerusalem (CNSNews.com) - As ballot counting continues in Florida Wednesday, the 2000 presidential race is expected to be won or lost by the absentee ballot count.

Of more than 20,000 absentee ballots, an estimated 10 percent have reportedly been sent by Floridians living in Israel, many of whom are believed to have voted for Vice President Al Gore.

Voting and postal officials in Israel both agreed that there is no way to know how many Floridians in the country have actually sent in their ballots.

However, according to David Froehlich, U.S. voting coordinator in Israel, there are approximately 4,000 Floridians living in Israel. Froehlich said that voter registration was up by about 15 percent this year.

Although there is no way to know for sure, Froehlich - who also heads Democrats Abroad in Israel - estimated that 2,000-2,500 Floridians probably voted absentee. Of those, he said, he is fairly certain about 90 percent would have voted for Gore.

Froehlich based his assumption on the fact that the majority of Jews in America (and abroad) tend to vote Democratic, and the fact that Gore's running mate is a Jew.

Jerusalem Attorney and former Floridian David Baskin created a stir last week when he pointed out that an instruction sheet included in the Florida ballot package indicated that the ballots did not have to be postmarked on or before Election Day.

As long as they were received in Florida by November 17, he said, it appeared they would be counted.

Baskin stressed Wednesday that he had not been suggesting that Floridians voted after the November 7 polling deadline. Only if they had already punched their ballots could they still have sent them in, he explained.

Out of eight Floridians contacted by CNSNews.com, only two said they had voted.

Baskin was one of them. The other, a former resident of Palm Beach County, was told later by Baskin that her ballot might be disqualified because she mailed it by regular Israeli post. The Israeli postmark records day/month/year instead of month/day/year.

Many voters, however, would have sent their ballots by express mail.

A Floridian from Broward County, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said with hindsight she and her husband should perhaps have voted.

"Had we known that we could have changed the course of history, we would have voted," she said.