Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Sense of Unease in Some Black Voters

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — For weeks now, James Jones has been extra courteous in traffic and at the gas station because he has an Obama sticker on the back of his truck. “Something like that might make a difference for Barack Obama,” Mr. Jones explained. “I’m not taking a chance.”

I never did get my car magnet, and I'm disappointed.

in conversations with about a dozen Jacksonville residents in cafes, outside churches and at their homes over three days, Mr. Jones and many of his black neighbors worry anyway, unable to put aside the nagging feeling that somehow their votes will not be counted.

Florida was a key in the 2000 election results.

Wounds have not healed here in Duval County since the mangled presidential election of 2000, when more than 26,000 ballots were discarded as invalid for being improperly punched. Nearly 40 percent of the votes were thrown out in the predominantly Democratic-leaning African-American communities around Jacksonville, a reality that has caused suspicions of racial bias to linger, even though intentional disenfranchisement was never proved.

26 thousand votes would have elected Al Gore.

But amid excitement over Mr. Obama’s historic candidacy and the chance that the country might choose an African-American president within a matter of days, there is an unmistakable sense of anxiety among blacks here that something will go wrong, that victory will slip away.

James Jones, an Obama supporter, at his home in Jacksonville, Fla., with his wife, Mary, and two of their three sons, James Jr., left, and Anthony.

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