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Student takes politics to heart

Outraged at the chaos in Florida's voting system, Miranda Griffin wants to do something about it - starting with today's rally.

By JAMIE MALERNEE

© St. Petersburg Times, published November 11, 2000


Miranda Griffin is supposed to be apathetic.

At age 20, the Pasco-Hernando Community College student, who voted in her first presidential election this week, shouldn't be taking all this recount stuff too seriously. Politics is politics, after all, and her generation is supposed to have become cynical about it long ago, she muses.

"There are a lot of people my age who don't have faith in the system, and something like this, in a way, proves them right," she said Friday regarding the saga of who will be the nation's next leader.

But that attitude is not stopping her. Griffin, a registered Democrat who says political stereotypes need not apply, says she is outraged at the confusion and chaos surrounding Florida's voting system. And she wants to do something about it.

On Friday, Griffin spent the day calling friends and family members, copying fliers and handing them out around town. Today at 3 p.m., she hopes hundreds of people will join her in front of the old county courthouse in Brooksville to protest the election and demand a re-vote in at least some Florida counties.

"That's what democracy is, getting together and fighting for what it needs," she said. "We don't want an accidental president."

Griffin is an outspoken supporter for Vice President Al Gore, but she says all parties are invited to today's rally. It's not about who should win, but ensuring that the winner does it fairly, she said. She conceded, however, few supporters of George W. Bush would probably show up.

Griffin listed among her concerns the voting problems reported in Palm Beach County -- where a "confusing ballot" might have led Gore supporters to cast ballots for both the vice president and Reform Party candidate Pat Buchanan -- as well as complaints from minorities around the state that they were not allowed to vote despite being properly registered.

Griffin said the rally will be a gathering of "everyday people," not politicians. Hernando County's Democratic Party will not be participating.

Party president Alexander Jenkins said members think there's no need.

"In this county, we don't really see where there is any Machiavellian intrigue," Jenkins said. "Our machines work perfectly."

He added that members didn't want to press their luck after winning practically every election in Hernando.

"In this county, Gore had a plurality of 2,000 votes, the Democrats swept the (County) Commission, (U.S. Sen. candidate Bill) Nelson had a plurality, we got the supervisor of elections . . . and we also have the tax collector," he said. "We aren't planning anything."

Griffin says she doesn't want a local recount, but she wants to speak out in support of residents in other areas who are demanding them. She says she hopes good can come from all this confusion, with the creation of a more accurate voting system and people's realization that their vote counts.

"This all really shows just how much voting actually matters," she said. "Bush is winning by only 300 votes. Three hundred people is nothing!"

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