Theresa LePore

Theresa LePore is a former Supervisor of Elections for Palm Beach County, Florida. She is most notable as the person who designed the infamous "butterfly ballot", used in the 2000 presidential election.[1] This would lead the press to nickname her "Madame Butterfly." Following the controversial results of the 2000 election, she lost her re-election bid in September 2004 and left office in January 2005.


LePore grew up in Palm Beach County, attending Cardinal Newman High School in West Palm Beach, Palm Beach State College in Lake Worth and Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton.

She started her career in the Supervisor of Elections Office in 1971 as a file clerk. She quickly rose through the ranks and achieved the position of Chief Deputy Supervisor in the late 1970s. During the 1980s she also moonlighted as a ramp clerk at Palm Beach International Airport.

LePore was a registered Democrat and was elected as a Democrat in a partisan election.[2][3] In 1996 LePore changed her political party registration to Democratic after deciding to run for the position of Supervisor of Elections.[4] In 2004 she lost re-election as Election Supervisor. Prior to the election she had changed her political party designation to independent.[5]

LePore is (or was) a member of the following organizations:

She was elected as the Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections in November, 1996 and re-elected without opposition in November, 2000. After leaving the Supervisor of Elections Office in January, 2005, she was employed by the Palm Beach County State Attorney's Office for a short period, enabling her to receive her full pension from Palm Beach County.

She then worked at her alma mater, Cardinal Newman High School in West Palm Beach, Florida as director of development.[6] until January 2009.

She is writing a book about the 2000 election and the butterfly ballot she designed.[7]

Election controversies

"Butterfly ballot" from Palm Beach County, 2000 election

In 2000, to accommodate the large number of Presidential candidates eligible in Florida, LePore designed a staggered two-page format with candidate names on alternating sides of a central punch button column. Under her predecessor Jackie Winchester, in the 1996 election the butterfly ballot caused an estimated 14,000 votes for the second candidate on the left (Bob Dole) to be miscast,[8] but this did not affect the election outcome and went unnoticed at the time. In the 2000 election, the miscast votes would have been a decisive reversal and consequently achieved notoriety. A study by the "The Palm Beach Post" speculated that voters confused by Palm Beach County's butterfly ballot cost Al Gore the presidency.[9]

Responding to public anger at the punch card systems, LePore bought paperless DRE voting machines from Sequoia Voting Systems in 2002. This choice came under fire from voting experts, notably Rebecca Mercuri.[10]


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