Florida Recount: Official statements

2001 Analysis

Gore won if rejected ballots counted; but Bush won on manual recount

A comprehensive review of the uncounted Florida ballots from last year’s presidential election reveals that George W. Bush would have won even if the US Supreme Court had allowed the statewide manual recount of the votes that the Florida Supreme Court had ordered to go forward. A close examination of the ballots found that Bush would have retained a slender margin over Gore if the Florida court’s order to recount more than 43,000 ballots had not been reversed by the US Supreme Court.

Even under the strategy that Gore pursued at the beginning of the Florida standoff — filing suit to force hand recounts in four predominantly Democratic counties — Bush would have kept his lead, according to the ballot review conducted for a consortium of news organizations.

But the consortium, looking at a broader group of rejected ballots than those covered in the court decisions, 175,010 in all, found that Gore might have won if the courts had ordered a full statewide recount of all the rejected ballots. This also assumes that county canvassing boards would have reached the same conclusions about the disputed ballots that the consortium’s independent observers did. The findings indicate that Gore might have eked out a victory if he had pursued in court a course like the one he publicly advocated when he called on the state to “count all the votes.”

Source: Analysis of Consortium Study, Ford Fessenden & John Broder, NY Times Nov 12 2001

Overvotes went 3:1 to Gore on Palm Beach’s “butterfly ballot”

The Consortium Study found statistical support for the complaints of many voters, particularly elderly Democrats in Palm Beach County, who said in interviews after the election that confusing ballot designs may have led them to spoil their ballots by voting for more than one candidate.

More than 113,000 voters cast ballots for two or more presidential candidates. Of those, 75,000 chose Gore and a minor candidate; 29,000 chose Bush and a minor candidate. Because there was no clear indication of what the voters intended, those numbers were not included in the consortium’s final tabulations.

The study examined numerous hypothetical ways of recounting the Florida ballots. Under some methods, Gore would have emerged the winner; in others, Bush. But in each one, the margin of victory was smaller than the 537- vote lead that state election officials ultimately awarded Bush.

For example, if Florida’s 67 counties had carried out the hand recount of disputed ballots ordered by the Florida court on Dec. 8, applying the standards that election officials said they would have used, Bush would have emerged the victor by 493 votes. Florida officials had begun such a recount the next day, but the effort was halted that afternoon when the United States Supreme Court ruled in a 5-to-4 vote that a statewide recount using varying standards threatened “irreparable harm” to Bush.

But the consortium’s study shows that Bush would have won even if the justices had not stepped in (and had further legal challenges not again changed the trajectory of the battle), answering one of the abiding mysteries of the Florida vote.

Even so, the media ballot review, carried out under rigorous rules far removed from the chaos and partisan heat of the post-election dispute, is unlikely to end the argument over the outcome of the 2000 presidential election. The race was so close that it is possible to get different results simply by applying different hypothetical vote-counting methods to the thousands of uncounted ballots. And in every case, the ballot review produced a result that was even closer than the official count — a margin of perhaps four or five thousandths of one percent out of about six million ballots cast for president.

Source: Analysis of Consortium Study, Ford Fessenden & John Broder, NY Times Nov 12 2001

Undervotes that Gore demanded would not have given Gore victory

The consortium examined 175,010 ballots that vote-counting machines had rejected last November. Those included so-called undervotes, or ballots on which the machines could not discern a preference for president, and overvotes, those on which voters marked more than one candidate.

The examination then sought to judge what might have been considered a legal vote under various conditions — from the strictest interpretation (a clearly punched hole) to the most liberal (a small indentation, or dimple, that indicated the voter was trying to punch a hole in the card). But even under the most inclusive standards, the review found that at most, 24,619 ballots could have been interpreted as legal votes.

The numbers reveal the flaws in Gore’s post-election tactics and, in retrospect, why the Bush strategy of resisting county-by-county recounts was ultimately successful.

In a finding rich with irony, the results show that even if Gore had succeeded in his effort to force recounts of undervotes in the four Democratic counties, Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach and Volusia, he still would have lost, although by 225 votes rather than 537. An approach Gore and his lawyers rejected as impractical — a statewide recount — could have produced enough votes to tilt the election his way, no matter what standard was chosen to judge voter intent.

Source: Analysis of Consortium Study, Ford Fessenden & John Broder, NY Times Nov 12 2001

Properly counting overseas ballots would have given Gore victory

Another complicating factor in the effort to untangle the result is the overseas absentee ballots that arrived after Election Day. A New York Times investigation earlier this year showed that 680 of the late- arriving ballots did not meet Florida’s standards yet were still counted. The vast majority of those flawed ballots were accepted in counties that favored Bush, after an aggressive effort by Bush strategists to pressure officials to accept them.

A statistical analysis conducted for The Times determined that if all counties had followed state law in reviewing the absentee ballots, Gore would have picked up as many as 290 additional votes, enough to tip the election in Gore’s favor in some of the situations studied in the statewide ballot review.

But Gore chose not to challenge these ballots because many were from members of the military overseas, and Gore did not want to be accused of seeking to invalidate votes of men and women in uniform.

Source: Analysis of Consortium Study, Ford Fessenden & John Broder, NY Times Nov 12 2001

Black votes more likely spoiled in Florida, by 3:1 margin

Ballots cast in predominantly black neighborhoods in Florida were three times as likely to be uncounted in the contested 2000 U.S. presidential election than ballots cast in white neighborhoods. Based on a study of 175,010 Florida ballots not counted in the election, 136 out of every 1,000 ballots cast in heavily black precincts were “spoiled” because of voter mistakes, compared to 45 of every 1,000 in mainly white precincts, the newspaper said.

Ballots in black neighborhoods were twice as likely to have been discarded because there was no indication of a vote for president, a so-called undervote, according to the study conducted for a consortium of eight news organizations. Black precincts also accounted for a disproportionate number of overvotes–ballots on which more than one mark was made for president–according to the Washington Post’s analysis.

Democrat Al Gore was selected on 80,772 of the overvote ballots, twice as many as Republican George W. Bush. The study highlighted the value of so-called second-chance voting systems that alerts voters before they leave the polling place of potential errors that would otherwise spoil their ballot, allowing them to recast their votes.

Source: Washington Post Consortium Study, analyzed in NY Times Nov 13 2001

Gore reiterates that Election 2000 is over; Election 2004 is ultimate verdict

The analysis does not diminish the heartbreaking might-have-beens for Al Gore. It suggests that more Floridians intended to vote for Gore but were deterred, in some cases by ballots that were confounding. (No wonder networks reported on election night that, based on polls of voters leaving the polls, Gore had won Florida.)

Had the analysis concluded that under every conceivable circumstance, Gore would have triumphed under a statewide recount, or that there had been fraud or other mischief, the Democrats would have had reason to speak out today. But it found that even if the Supreme Court had not stepped in to block a statewide manual recount, Bush would have won.

In history, the two anchors of the American political process are whether an election is regarded as final and whether there was an orderly transition of power. Gore, in fact, did his best to encourage that stability last December when he implored the nation “to unite behind our next president.” Today, in a statement, Gore recalled that concession, saying, “As I said on Dec. 13 of last year, we are a nation of laws and the presidential election of 2000 is over.”

Gore, presumably not wanting to appear to be a sore loser, chose not to go the route of President Grover Cleveland, who in 1888 won the popular vote but lost the Electoral College — and the White House — to Benjamin Harrison. Cleveland never let the public forget that he thought he should be president. Four years later, he defeated Harrison, a Republican.

The ultimate verdict on the 2000 election will be the election of 2004. If Bush is re-elected, that would go far to quash lingering talk of illegitimacy. But if Gore runs again, and the economy is in peril, that could give the former vice president an opening to cast the election of 2000 through the prism of what people’s lives are like at the time. If Americans are hurting financially in 2004, Gore could say he was cheated out of the presidency — and that the people were cheated too.

Source: Analysis of Consortium Study, Ford Fessenden & John Broder, NY Times Nov 12 2001

Consensus on electoral remedies still awaiting Congressional action

Congress still has not passed legislation establishing national standards for voting technologies and procedures and providing funds to put them into effect. The anniversary of last year’s mess may create a renewed sense of urgency. Congress must act now if voters are to see substantial improvements by the next presidential race.

Last week the House agreed on a bill that would offer states $400 million to retire their old punchcard voting systems and an additional $2.25 billion over three years for new equipment and better voter registration. Ultimately, however, it will take a determined push by Congressional leaders and President Bush, who has shown little interest in the subject, to get an election reform law signed by year’s end.

Source: Analysis of Consortium Study, Richard Berke, NY Times Nov 12 2001

How the Consortium Study worked

The ballot review project commissioned by eight media organizations tried to decipher 175,010 Florida ballots that went unexamined in last fall’s presidential election and the ensuing recounts. Beginning in Polk County in February and ending in Orlando in May, the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago maneuvered a small army of 153 ballot examiners, or coders, through courthouses and office buildings across Florida’s 67 counties to inspect the ballots.

The ballot project was organized in December by The New York Times and joined by The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, CNN, Tribune Company, The Palm Beach Post, The St. Petersburg Times and The Associated Press, which shared the $900,000 cost.

County employees pulled ballots from precinct boxes one by one, turning them from back to front, flashing them in front of miniature photographic light tables that all the teams carried. The coders, squinting and craning, spent an average of 60 seconds on each before recording what they saw.

But the process was far different from last fall’s in critical ways. The coders were not trying to decide whether a ballot showed evidence of intent to vote but simply recording as objectively as possible critical information about the marks they found. Were chads disrupted, and by how much? Were bubbles filled in, and in what fashion? Were there notes, X marks, editorial comments?

The coders made their judgments without consulting other coders. The method provided both a guard against inaccuracy and a measure of how difficult the dimples and scratches were to see.

Every undervote — the name given to ballots with no machine-readable vote for president — was viewed separately by three coders.

On the more straightforward overvotes — those that were rejected because the machine saw two or more punches or marks in the presidential race — the research center used one coder, but only after running a test with three coders showing that the overvotes could be reliably recorded by one person.

The database produced by the research center was ultimately analyzed by consortium members using computer software designed by the members to sort the ballots based on rules and standards that might have been used by canvassing boards in a manual recount.

Source: Analysis of Consortium Study, Ford Fessenden, NY Times Nov 12 2001

Make Election Day a national holiday;
recommendations of Electoral Reform Commission

    This election commission [headed by Carter and Ford, to recommend reforms] is comprised of 28 members, about as diverse a group as you could possibly imagine, almost equally divided between Democrats and Republicans, chosen because of their deep, sometimes life-long interest in the electoral process in our country. I'm just briefly going to outline the recommendations made:
  1. Each state should devise a uniform voter registration system and enforce it. Now this is done by individual counties; there more than 4,000 of them, and this creates a great deal of confusion.
  2. Voters who come to the polling place on Election Day quite often have found some confusion about whether or not they are qualified, and we are recommending provisional balloting. The voter has a right to cast a ballot. And it's sealed in an envelope. And later after Election Day is over, it is counted if that person has actually qualified to vote there and is not registered at other places.
  3. There should be a national holiday in which to have the election. One suggestion has been that this be combined with Veterans Day.
  4. Overseas voting should be made clearer and fairer and less confusing. The absentee ballots for military persons overseas or Americans living overseas would be greatly expedited by having one central voter registration point, which we recommend.
  5. The news media should not project winners in any states until all 48 contiguous states have finished their voting process and the polls have closed. This would not include Alaska and Hawaii, which would delay it too much. And this would be hopefully a voluntary commitment by the major networks and the major cable companies. If they don't do it, then we recommend that Congress take action. We recognize that there are First Amendment principles involved, but we think this is an important one.
  6. Each state would be required to set uniform standards, both for the performance of voting procedures--punch cards, the mechanical kind, scanning, paper ballots--and that there be a standard required that there would be no more than a 2% error, either over-votes or under-votes.
  7. Felons should be permitted to vote after they complete their sentence or their probation period, at the latest. Some states now, to my surprise, do not permit felons ever to vote again.
  8. Congress should appropriate a modest amount of money, $1 to $2 billion over a three or four year period, which would be about $300 million a year, and this would establish a revolving fund which could go to the states if they meet their matching requirements and to be used to carry out all these recommendations.
  9. All television networks should be encouraged to provide five minutes a day, free of charge, for use by presidential candidates who have qualified for matching funds for the last 30 days of the campaign. So for 30 days, five minutes a day would be used for those major candidates to present their views to the American people.
  10. The networks should provide free time for instruction of voters on how they should cast their ballots.
Source: Press Conference on Electoral Reform Commission results
by Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford July 15 2001

Reject Bush's Florida electors due to election fraud

There is overwhelming evidence of official misconduct, deliberate fraud and an attempt to suppress voter turnout by unlawful means that were used to produce George W. Bush’s false victory. The preponderance of the available evidence points to Vice President Al Gore as the actual winner of the most votes in Florida and he should have been awarded the state’s electoral votes.

Vice President Al Gore may have conceded his judicial contest, but that is irrelevant. There is not provision for the concession of candidates in the Constitution. There is, however, a process set out in law for Congress to consider challenges to electoral votes. The Congress, on behalf of all Americans, is the final judge of how much election fraud to accept.

The hearings held by the NAACP clearly showed that there were massive violations of the Voting Rights Act, and that tens of thousands of Floridians were denied due process when they were removed from the voter rolls without notice. Still others were intimidated by police checkpoints set up near polling places. In Miami-Dade and Broward, investigations by independent news organizations have found hundreds of ineligible persons who were allowed to vote. There clearly were significant inequities in assigning what turned out to be non-working voting machines to precincts that were heavily African-American in Miami-Dade. We would not tolerate any of these errors if they took place in some other country. Is our duty to our own country any less?

Millions of Americans have already expressed their public outrage at the myriad injustices which occurred in the making of George W. Bush’s mistaken victory. But public outrage is not enough. The laws of this country provide for the objection which we herein make on behalf of freedom, justice and democracy. We, Members of the Congressional Black Caucus, therefore wholeheartedly object to the acceptance of the presidential electors from Florida.

Source: Congressional Black Caucus press release 01-CBC4 on Jan 6, 2001

US Supreme Court rulings

No more Florida recount

The Supreme Court of Florida has said that the legislature intended the State's electors to 'participate fully in the federal electoral process.' The statute requires that any controversy or contest that is designed to lead to a conclusive selection of electors be completed by December 12. That date is upon us, and there is no recount procedure in place under the State Supreme Court's order that comports with minimal constitutional standards.

Because it is evident that any recount seeking to meet the December 12 date will be unconstitutional, we reverse the judgment of the Supreme Court of Florida ordering a recount to proceed. Seven Justices of the Court agree that there are constitutional problems with the recount ordered by the Florida Supreme Court that demand a remedy. The only disagreement is as to the remedy.

Source: Per curiam opinion of the US Supreme Court Dec 12, 2000

Rehnquist: exceptional case overrides state opinion

In most cases, comity and respect for federalism compel us to defer to the decisions of state courts on issues of state law. That practice reflects our understanding that the decisions of state courts are definitive pronouncements of the will of the States as sovereigns.

Of course, in ordinary cases, the distribution of powers among the branches of a State's government raises no questions of federal constitutional law, subject to the requirement that the government be republican in character. But there are a few exceptional cases in which the Constitution imposes a duty or confers a power on a particular branch of a State’s government. This is one of them.

Source: Concurring US Supreme Court opinion of Rehnquist, Scalia and Thomas Dec 12, 2000

Stevens: Clear loser is confidence in justice system

In the interest of finality, the majority effectively orders the disenfranchisement of an unknown number of voters whose ballots reveal their intent, and are therefore legal votes under state law, but were for some reason rejected by ballot-counting machines.

Neither in this case, nor in its earlier opinion in Palm Beach County Canvassing Bd. v. Harris, did the Florida Supreme Court make any substantive change in Florida electoral law. Its decisions were rooted in long-established precedent and were consistent with the relevant statutory provisions, taken as a whole. It did what courts do -- it decided the case before it in light of the legislature's intent to leave no legally cast vote uncounted.

What must underlie petitioners' entire federal assault on the Florida election procedures is an unstated lack of confidence in the impartiality and capacity of the state judges who would make the critical decisions if the vote count were to proceed. Otherwise, their position is wholly without merit. The endorsement of that position by the majority of this Court can only lend credence to the most cynical appraisal of the work of judges throughout the land. It is confidence in the men and women who administer the judicial system that is the true backbone of the rule of law. Time will one day heal the wound to that confidence that will be inflicted by today' s decision.

Although we may never know with complete certainty the identity of the winner of this year's Presidential election, the identity of the loser is perfectly clear. It is the Nation's confidence in the judge as an impartial guardian of the rule of law.

Source: Dissenting US Supreme Court opinion of Stevens, Ginsburg and Breyer Dec 12, 2000

Breyer: Let Florida recount, under uniform standards

The Court was wrong to take this case. It was wrong to grant a stay. It should now vacate that stay and permit the Florida Supreme Court to decide whether the recount should resume.

The political implications of this case for the country are momentous. But the federal legal questions presented, with one exception, are insubstantial. The majority justifies stopping the recount entirely on the ground that there is no more time. In particular, the majority relies on the lack of time for the Secretary to review and approve equipment needed to separate under-votes. But the majority reaches this conclusion in the absence of any record evidence that the recount could not have been completed in the time allowed by the Florida Supreme Court.

I fear that in order to bring this agonizingly long election process to a definitive conclusion, we have not adequately attended to that necessary 'check upon our own exercise of power,' 'our own sense of self-restraint.' What it does today, the Court should have left undone. I would repair the damage done as best we now can, by permitting the Florida recount to continue under uniform standards. I respectfully dissent.

Source: Justice Breyer's dissent on US Supreme Court decision Dec 12, 2000

Souter: Give Florida until Dec. 18 to finish recount

As will be clear, I am in substantial agreement with the dissenting opinions of Justice Stevens, Justice Ginsburg and Justice Breyer. I write separately only to say how straightforward the issues before us really are. In deciding what to do about this, we should take account of the fact that electoral votes are due to be cast in six days. I would therefore remand the case to the courts of Florida with instructions to establish uniform standards for evaluating the several types of ballots that have prompted differing treatments, to be applied within and among counties when passing on such identical ballots in any further recounting (or successive recounting) that the courts might order.

Unlike the majority, I see no warrant for this Court to assume that Florida could not possibly comply with this requirement before the date set for the meeting of electors, December 18.

Source: Dissenting US Supreme Court opinion of Souter, Breyer, Stevens and Ginsburg Dec 12, 2000

Scalia: Stay means Court probably agrees

Several Democrats pointed with particular pain to a passage in a concurring opinion [in Saturday's US Supreme Court stay order, which overturned the Florida Supreme Court's order to begin recounting every county] by Justice Antonin Scalia. It said: "The issuance of the stay suggests that a majority of the court, while not deciding the issues presented, believe that the petitioner [Bush] has a substantial probability of success." Justice Scalia would not have included that language, a Gore adviser said, had he not been confident of the votes he will need [in the Supreme Court's hearing on Monday].
Source: New York Times, p. 1 & 32 Dec 10, 2000

State legislatures decide election rules

As a general rule, this Court defers to a state court’s interpretation of a state statute. But in the case of a law enacted by a state legislature applicable not only to elections to state offices, but also to the selection of Presidential electors, the legislature is not acting solely under the authority given it by the people of the State, but by virtue of a direct grant of authority made under Art. II, 1, cl. 2, of the United States Constitution. That provision reads: “Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress .”

Although we did not address the same question petitioner raises here, in McPherson v. Blacker, 146 U. S. 1, 25 (1892), we said:

“[Art. II, 1, cl. 2] does not read that the people or the citizens shall appoint, but that ‘each State shall’; and if the words ‘in such manner as the legislature thereof may direct,’ had been omitted, it would seem that the legislative power of appointment could not have been successfully questioned in the absence of any provision in the state constitution in that regard. Hence the insertion of those words, while operating as a limitation upon the State in respect of any attempt to circumscribe the legislative power, cannot be held to operate as a limitation on that power itself.”
…The parties before us agree that whatever else may be the effect of this section, it creates a “safe harbor” for a State insofar as congressional consideration of its electoral votes is concerned. If the state legislature has provided for final determination of contests or controversies by a law made prior to election day, that determination shall be conclusive if made at least six days prior to said time of meeting of the electors…. Since 5 USC contains a principle of federal law that would assure finality of the State’s determination if made pursuant to a state law in effect before the election, a legislative wish to take advantage of the “safe harbor” would counsel against any construction of the Election Code that Congress might deem to be a change in the law.
Source: US Supreme Court ruling, No. 99-1030, Bush v Palm Beach Dec 4, 2000

Florida Supreme Court must reconsider

After reviewing the opinion of the Florida Supreme Court, we find “that there is considerable uncertainty as to the precise grounds for the decision.” Minnesota v. National Tea Co., 309 U. S. 551, 555 (1940). This is sufficient reason for us to decline at this time to review the federal questions asserted to be present. See ibid.
“It is fundamental that state courts be left free and unfettered by us in interpreting their state constitutions. But it is equally important that ambiguous or obscure adjudications by state courts do not stand as barriers to a determination by this Court of the validity under the federal constitution of state action. Intelligent exercise of our appellate powers compels us to ask for the elimination of the obscurities and ambiguities from the opinions in such cases.” Id., at 557.
Specifically, we are unclear as to the extent to which the Florida Supreme Court saw the Florida Constitution as circumscribing the legislature’s authority under Art. II, 1, cl. 2. We are also unclear as to the consideration the Florida Supreme Court accorded to 3 U. S. C. 5. The judgment of the Supreme Court of Florida is therefore vacated, and the case is remanded for further proceedings not inconsistent with this opinion.
Source: US Supreme Court ruling, No. 99-1030, Bush v Palm Beach Dec 4, 2000

US Supreme Court will hear arguments for certification on Dec. 1

The US Supreme Court has been reluctant to take up election matters because the Constitution says elections are a state matter. Bruce Fein, a constitutional scholar, said the court probably took the [Bush case asking to overturn the Florida Supreme Court, which will be heard on Dec. 1] because of the stakes involved are high and rejecting the case would be a "denigration of the president." If the court were to rule in Bush's favor, the justices could order her to re-certify the statewide total - deleting the numbers from the manual recount.
Source: Raju Chebium, CNN.com Nov 26, 2000

Florida Court rulings

Fla. Supreme Court: No Seminole & Martin County absentee fraud

The court has issued its opinion in the case of Harry Jacobs v. Seminole County Canvassing Board, challenging certain absentee ballots. The trial court in this case found that the evidence does not support a finding of fraud, gross negligence or intentional wrongdoing in connection with any absentee ballots.

Today, the Supreme Court affirms this finding. In doing so, the court does not in any sense condone the irregularities noted by the trial court in the way applications for absentee ballots were handled. However, these irregularities do not require the voiding of all absentee ballots. The vote in this case was six to zero.

Second, the court also has decided the case of Ronald Taylor v. Martin County Canvassing Board, also challenging certain absentee ballots. The trial court in this case concluded that there were irregularities, but that they did not reach the level of fraud or intentional misconduct. Accordingly, the trial court found that the sanctity of the ballot was not impaired.

Based on the rule of law explained in the Jacobs case that I just mentioned to you, the Supreme Court has affirmed the trial court's order. The vote, again, was six to zero.

Source: Statement by Florida Supreme Court spokesman Craig Waters Dec 12, 2000

Florida Supreme Court dissent: unprecedented political crisis

Florida's chief justice, Charles T. Wells, wrote apocalyptically on Friday that his colleagues' decision [to allow a recount of all Florida counties] "propels this country and this state into an unprecedented and unnecessary political crisis." For 24 hours, that word, crisis, avoided by most political leaders in the last month, also crossed the lips of many of them.

Tonight [after the US Supreme Court stayed the Florida recount], the prospect of an enormous constitutional pileup involving the courts, the Florida Legislature, and both houses of Congress seemed diminished, but only at the cost of some of the prestige of the Supreme Court, and only with the diminution of the authority that the new president will wield. No one knows how much the eventual winner has been harmed, but the sudden burst of worried comments about legitimacy, no longer from mere commentators but from the participants themselves, speaks volumes.

Source: New York Times, p. 1 & 32 Dec 10, 2000

Florida Supreme Court ruling cuts Bush lead to 154 votes

The legal roller coaster of presidential politics brought three notable court rulings last week—but it was the third one that revived the nation's attention and, to the surprise of many, breathed new life into Al Gore's hopes. At the start of the week, the US Supreme Court vacated a Nov. 21 Florida Supreme Court ruling that had extended the deadline for ballot recounting. The justices, in an unsigned, unanimous ruling, sent the case back "for further proceedings." Then Florida circuit court judge N. Sanders Sauls rejected Gore's legal arguments for a recount, saying that he found no evidence that counting those ballots again would change the election outcome.

But on Friday a sharply divided state Supreme Court overturned that decision, ordering manual recounts to begin immediately. The justices ordered a far broader recount that Gore had sought, saying that so-called undervotes—meaning ballots on which there was no vote for president—must be recounted in all 67 Florida counties "where such a recount has not yet occurred." By its ruling, the court also added 383 votes to Gore's total from recounts already undertaken, apparently whittling Bush's previous 537-vote lead to 154 votes. Bush moved swiftly to appeal the ruling.

Source: Boston Globe, p. H4, "Focus on Dec. 3-9" Dec 10, 2000

Sauls: No fraud, so not enough basis for election contest

In order to contest election results, the plaintiff must [prove] that but for the irregularity or inaccuracy claimed, the result of the election would have been different. It is not enough to show a reasonable possibility that election results could have been altered by such irregularities or inaccuracies. Rather, a reasonable probability that the results of the election would have been changed must be shown.

In this case, there is no credible statistical evidence and no other competent substantial evidence to establish by a preponderance a reasonable probability that the results of the statewide election in the state of Florida would be different from the result which has been certified by the state elections canvassing commission.

The court further finds and concludes the evidence does not establish any illegality, dishonesty, gross negligence, improper influence, coercion or fraud in the balloting and counting processes.

Source: Decision by Judge N. Sanders Sauls, Leon County Court Dec 4, 2000

Sauls: No more recounts; canvassing board decisions are final

Source: Decision by Judge N. Sanders Sauls, Leon County Court Dec 4, 2000

Sauls: No two-tiered systems; county standards are all ok

The local boards have been given broad discretion, which no court may overrule, absent a clear abuse of discretion. The Palm Beach County board did not abuse its discretion in its review and recounting process. Further, it acted in full compliance with the order of the circuit court in and for Palm Beach County.

Furthermore, with respect to the standards utilized by the board in its review and counting processes, the court finds that the standard utilized was in full compliance with the law and review under another standard would not be authorized, thus creating a two-tier situation within one county, as well as with respect to other counties.

As the state's chief legal officer, I feel a duty to warn that if the final certified total for balloting in the state of Florida includes figures generated from this two-tier system of differing behavior by official canvassing boards, the state will incur a legal jeopardy under both the United States and state constitutions. This legal jeopardy could potentially lead Florida to having all of its votes, in effect, disqualified, and this state being barred from the Electoral College's selection of a president.

The court finds further that the Nassau County Canvassing Board did not abuse its discretion in its certification of Nassau County's voting results. Such actions were not void or illegal, and it was done within the proper exercise of its discretion upon adequate and reasonable public notice.

Source: Decision by Judge N. Sanders Sauls, Leon County Court Dec 4, 2000

1.1 million ballots in truck convoy to Tallahassee

All 1.1 million ballots from Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties must be trucked to Tallahassee by Friday evening, a judge considering another recount ordered Wednesday in the latest chapter of Florida’s increasingly bizarre presidential election.

“Pack them up and ship them up,” Leon County Circuit Judge N. Sanders Sauls told lawyers and election supervisors, who listened through speaker phones. “Can you pack up some of the employees and ship them up here, too?”

On Tuesday, Sauls ordered the 10,750 disputed ballots from Miami-Dade and 3,308 similar ballots from Palm Beach County shipped to Tallahassee, in case he decides to inspect them. Most represent “undervotes,” ballots without clear selections for president. It was that order that Sauls expanded Wednesday. It now includes all 653,930 ballots cast in Miami-Dade and all 462,657 ballots from Palm Beach.

His move came on a motion from Bush’s lawyers, who complained that Gore wants to count “select ballots” from the two counties. “We don’t think any ballots should be counted, but we have to plan for all contingencies,” Bush attorney Barry Richard said after the hearing. In a rare show of harmony, Gore’s lawyers did not object to the request for all ballots.

One or two vans plus at least two vehicles from the Miami-Dade Police Department will form a caravan to carry the ballots, said spokepeople. Palm Beach County’s ballots were being packed into 162 gray metal boxes, each weighing between 20 and 30 pounds. At 7 a.m. today, a mid-size Ryder truck will back up to the county’s Emergency Operations Center and the boxes will be loaded aboard.

Source: Mark Silva et al., Miami Herald Nov 29, 2000

Hearing on Dec. 2; but bring ballots beforehand, just in case

JUDGE SAULS: Here's what we're going to do. Your response times have been moved to Thursday. We're not going to do anything on Friday [because of the U.S. Supreme Court hearing]. We will schedule a hearing [on Saturday, Dec. 2]. It will be all day if necessary. Be prepared--by then, you'll have had the answers. We'll have some issues joined. We'll hear it all. And then we will make those initial rulings and then proceed accordingly.

But then in conjunction with that, I have no idea what we're going to do concerning counting or not counting of ballots…. If you want some ballots up here, we'll bring them. Now, if you want some ballots, we need to know which ones you had to object to, but we're going to have to find out what they did. I'm not saying that anybody's going to count ballots. If what the action that is required by law is to review the actions of the canvassing board, then that may be another matter. But if not, then at least we'd have something to start on. And if you have--any side here has any ballots that are objected to, if you want them, you better let us know so they can throw them on the truck, too. All I'm trying to do is get us logistically in the position that, if you are perhaps wrong and the ruling is the other way, we need to have something. We then won't have further delay after delay.

What I would like is whatever was there that a typical voter in each of those counties would have looked at and utilized when a voter in one of those counties voted.

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY CANVASSING BOARD COUNSEL: Your Honor, we will send up with our ballots, a sample voting booth, and a ballot and the instructions that we had posted at the precinct.

PALM BEACH COUNTY CANVASSING BOARD COUNSEL: We could do the same for Palm Beach County. I believe there were two types we used. We'll send a sample of each, Your Honor.

JUDGE SAULS: They're going to bring us what they had and I'm not going to hear anybody object to whatever it is they've brought, because I'm asking them to bring me what was presented to a voter down there. So it's going to behoove anybody that wants to object to whatever it is they've brought, to get yourself down there to look at it, to see if you've got the objections and see if you can't get it corrected before they bring it.

Source: Ruling by Leon County Circuit Judge N. Sanders Sauls Nov 28, 2000

Summary: accept recount; voter rights are paramount

The Florida Supreme Court has issued a 42-page opinion this evening in the presidential election cases. In its opinion, the court has reversed the two orders of the trial court. It did so based on long-standing rules that govern how to interpret a general statute, containing conflicting provisions, as is the case with Florida's election code. < p>In dealing with similar conflicts in the past, the court has consistently held that the right of the people to cast their vote is the paramount concern overriding all others.

To achieve this goal, the court holds that amended certifications from the county canvassing boards, must be accepted by the Election Canvassing Commission through 5:00 p.m. on November 26 if the secretary of state's office is open for the special purpose of receiving amended certifications.

If that office is not open for this purpose on that date, then the Elections Canvassing Commission must accept amended certifications until 9 a.m. on November 27.

The opinion of the court is unanimous.

Source: Statement by Fla. Supreme Court spokesman Craig Waters Nov 21, 2000

Will of the people is the paramount consideration

Twenty-five years ago, this Court commented that the will of the people, not a hyper-technical reliance upon statutory provisions, should be our guiding principle in election cases:
The real parties in interest here, not in the legal sense but in realistic terms, are the voters. They are possessed of the ultimate interest and it is they whom we must give primary consideration…. By refusing to recognize an otherwise valid exercise of the right of a citizen to vote for the sake of sacred, unyielding adherence to statutory scripture, we would in effect nullify that right.
Boardman v. Esteva
We consistently have adhered to the principle that the will of the people is the paramount consideration. Our goal today remains the same as it was a quarter of a century ago, i.e., to reach the result that reflects the will of the voters, whatever that might be. This fundamental principle, and our traditional rules of statutory construction, guide our decision today.
Source: Florida Supreme Court ruling Nov 21, 2000

Vote tabulation matters; not blind faith in machines

The first issue this Court must resolve is whether a County Board may conduct a countywide manual recount where it determines there is an error in vote tabulation. Here, the [Florida election] Division opines that an "error in the vote tabulation" only means a counting error resulting from incorrect election parameters or an error in the vote tabulating software. We disagree.

The plain language of [the Florida statute] refers to an error in the vote tabulation rather than the vote tabulation system. On its face, the statute does not include any words of limitation; rather, it provides a remedy for any type of mistake made in tabulating ballots.

Our society has not yet gone so far as to place blind faith in machines. In almost all endeavors, including elections, humans routinely correct the errors of machines. For this very reason Florida law provides a human check on both the malfunction of tabulation equipment and error in failing to accurately count the ballots.

Source: Florida Supreme Court ruling Nov 21, 2000

Conflicting statutes decided by recency, specificity, intent

We must now determine whether the Commission must accept a return after the seven-day deadline set forth in [two different statutes]. The two statutes conflict. Whereas [the statute for Canvassing Boards to set a deadline] is mandatory, [the statute for the County Election Board to allow amended returns after the deadline] is permissive.

First, where two statutory provisions are in conflict, the specific statute controls the general statute. Second, when two statutes are in conflict, the more recently enacted statute controls the older statute. In the present case, the [permissive statute is both more specific and more recent].

Third, a statutory provision will not be construed in such a way that it renders meaningless or absurd any other statutory provision. In the present case, [the permissive statute] contains a detailed provision authorizing the assessment of fines. If the Department were required to ignore all returns received after the statutory date, the fine provision would be meaningless.

Source: Florida Supreme Court ruling Nov 21, 2000

Right of suffrage supercedes technical requirements

The right of suffrage is the preeminent right contained in [Florida's] Declaration of Rights. The very first words in the body of the Florida constitution [are]: "All political power is inherent in the people."

Courts must not lose sight of the fundamental purpose of election laws: The laws are intended to facilitate and safeguard the right of each voter to express his or her will in the context of our representative democracy. Technical statutory requirements must not be exalted over the substance of this right.

We conclude that the authority of the Florida Secretary of State to ignore amended returns submitted by a County Canvassing Board may be lawfully exercised only under limited circumstances.

The Secretary must explain to the Board her reason for ignoring the returns and her action must be adequately supported by the law. To disenfranchise electors in an effort to deter Board members, as the Secretary in the present case proposes, is unreasonable, unnecessary, and violates longstanding law.

Source: Florida Supreme Court ruling Nov 21, 2000

Unanimous conclusion: Recount until Nov. 26; then certify

Conclusion: In order to allow maximum time for contests, amended certifications must be filed with the Elections Canvassing Commission by 5 p.m. on Sunday, November 26, 2000. If the office is not open for this special purpose on Sunday, then any amended certifications shall be accepted until 9 a.m. on Monday, November 27, 2000. The stay order [disallowing certification of the election results by the Secretary of State] entered on November 17, 2000, by this Court shall remain in effect until the expiration of the time for accepting amended certifications set forth in this opinion. The certificates made and signed by the Elections Canvassing Commission shall include the amended returns accepted through the dates set forth in this opinion.

It is so ordered. No motion for rehearing will be allowed. [Concurred unanimously].

Source: Florida Supreme Court ruling Nov 21, 2000

Harris cannot certify election until further notice

In order to maintain the status quo, the Court, on its own motion, enjoins the Respondent, Secretary of State and Respondent, the Elections Canvassing Commission, from certifying the results of the November 7, 2000 presidential election, until further notice of this Court. It is NOT the intent of this Order to stop the counting and conveying to the Secretary of State the results of absentee ballots or any other ballots.
Source: Stay Order of the Florida Supreme Court Nov 17, 2000

Florida government officials

Florida legislature convenes to select electors

Florida's Republican legislative leaders, saying they are trying to ensure that Florida voters are not disenfranchised, yesterday announced they will convene a special session to begin picking a slate of electors who would back George W. Bush.

"We're protecting Florida's 25 electoral votes and its 6 million voters," said state Senate president John McKay, who had been reluctant to take this historic step for fear it would be viewed as partisan.

But McKay said he had been concerned that, without legislative action, Florida might wind up with a tainted or disputed slate of electoral votes that would not be counted. That would give the presidency to Gore, whose challenge to the Florida election will be heard by the state Supreme Court this morning.

Within minutes of McKay's announcement, House Democratic leader Lois Frankel, while conceding that Republicans had the votes to do whatever they pleased, blasted the GOP leadership for taking an "unlawful" step. The session would begin tomorrow and last at least through Wednesday, the day after the statutory deadline for certifying electors.

"This is a very sad day for the state of Florida," Frankel said. "We just witnessed the ultimate partisan act." Noting that the state's governor, Jeb Bush, is the brother of Texas governor George W. Bush, she said the act had a "postmark from Austin, Texas."

Source: Michael Kranish, Boston Globe, p. A1 Dec 7, 2000

Punch-card stylus inventor says hand recounts are advisable

Attorneys for the Texas governor sought to prove that “undervotes,” ballots which did not register a presidential choice when counted by machine, were in fact nonvotes by citizens who didn’t care for either candidate. But the Gore legal team, in a boost for its case, won an admission from a Bush witness that a hand recount should be conducted in a close election.

The GOP witness, John Ahmann, also conceded he had designed a new stylus to be used in punch-card ballots and unsuccessfully tried to sell it to Miami-Dade County on the grounds that the old stylus was not reliable. That disclosure delighted the Gore lawyers, who learned of Ahmann’s stylus design by unearthing a patent application from the Internet.

In a dramatic moment during an otherwise dry exchange of technical evidence, Gore lawyer Steve Zack cornered Ahmann, a rancher who also has an elections supply firm in California. “In close elections, a hand recount is advisable, correct?” Zack asked. “In very close elections, yes,” Ahmann agreed.

Source: Susan Milligan, Boston Globe, p. A10 Dec 4, 2000

Miami Herald: With flawless ballots, Gore wins by 23,000 votes

If no one had ever heard of hanging chads, if the butterfly ballot had never flown, if no voter had bungled in the booth, who would have won Florida and the presidency of the United States? In a race so tight, it may never be known for certain. But an analysis commissioned by The Herald of voting patterns in each of the state's 5,885 precincts suggests that Florida likely would have gone to Al Gore -- by a slim 23,000 votes -- rather than George W. Bush, the officially certified victor by the wispy margin of 537.

Statewide, at least 185,000 ballots were discarded, rejected as either undervotes (failing for whatever reason to successfully mark a ballot or punch out a chad) or overvotes (selecting more than one candidate for whatever reason). That number includes rejected absentee ballots. If those ballots had been included and those voters behaved like their neighbors in the same precincts, Bush would have gotten about 78,000 (42 percent) of the uncounted votes and Gore would have gotten more than 103,000 (56 percent). The remaining 4,000 or so would have gone to the minor candidates. That assumption of voting patterns is based on a concept long accepted by pollsters.

One fundamental flaw, Republicans argued, was an assumption that every voter actually intended to cast a vote in the presidential race. [But] even if the analysis were adjusted to include the remote possibility that 90 percent of voters whose ballots were discarded actually intended to skip the race, the margin still would make a decisive difference for Gore -- about 1,400 votes.

Voting machinery played a large role in ballot rejections. Of the 51 precincts in which more than 20 percent of ballots were rejected, 45 of them used punch cards. Of the 336 precincts in which more than 10 percent were tossed, 277 used punch cards. The overall rejection rate for the 43 optical counties was 1.4 percent. The overall rejection rate for the 24 punch-card counties was 3.9 percent. That means that voters in punch-card counties, which included urban Democratic strongholds such as Broward and Palm Beach counties, were nearly three times as likely to have their ballots rejected as those in optical counties.

Source: Anabelle de Gale, et al, Miami Herald Dec 4, 2000

Last of South Florida Ballots Head to State Capitol

A yellow Ryder truck -- with “Rent Me” etched across the top of its windshield -- delivered more than 462,000 Palm Beach County ballots to Tallahassee on Thursday in the latest bizarre scene from the no-end-in-sight election. After the truck’s slow start in West Palm Beach’s rush hour, television station helicopters gave live coverage of the cross-state trip. And just as the O.J. Simpson low-speed chase did six years ago in California, the jaunt chased viewers from their homes to ramps and overpasses along the 450-mile route for an in-the-flesh glimpse at history. And even Simpson, now a Florida resident, tuned in. He gave the show a thumbs-down. “Boring,” he said.
Source: Dec 1, 2000

Supreme Court decision could change political momentum

The Supreme Court battle between the Bush and Gore campaigns centers on a bitter dispute over whether the Florida Supreme Court overstepped its bounds when it extended recount deadlines and postponed certification of the election. That dispute is taking place at one of the fault lines of the law: whether the courts are interpreting law or legislating by their rulings. The Bush lawyers asserted that the Florida court drew up “laws of its own invention,” which would violate a federal statute requiring elections be resolved under laws in place “prior to” the vote. The Gore lawyers said the Florida court simply “interpreted Florida law.” The way the justices resolve that issue may well determine whether it is Gov. George W. Bush of Texas or Vice President Al Gore who wins a Supreme Court ruling that could change the political momentum in the struggle for the White House.
Source: William Glaberson, NY Times Nov 30, 2000

Palm Beach reports net gain of 188 for Gore after deadline

Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Theresa LePore announced that Gore netted 188 additional votes during the county’s ill-fated attempt to recount its ballots before last Sunday’s deadline. The county completed its task two hours past the 5 p.m. Sunday cutoff established by the Florida Supreme Court. Republican Secretary of State Katherine Harris used previously reported results from Palm Beach County.
Source: Mark Silva et al., Miami Herald Nov 29, 2000

Florida legislature leaning towards choosing electors

The Republicans hope to use the Legislature to take the decision out of the hands of Florida's courts. The Legislature, not the Florida Supreme Court, has exclusive authority to appoint Florida's electors when the outcome of an election is in doubt. But if the Legislature proceeds to choose its own slate of electors and if the courts ultimately rule that Mr. Gore won the state, Congress would be faced with having to choose between two slates. "I think the only thing to do is a special session," said Johnnie B. Byrd Jr., a Republican House member who is co-chairman of the committee. "It's the only way to take all doubt out." Republicans hold a 77-to-43 margin in the House and 25-to-15 margin in the Senate.
Source: David Barstow, NY Times Nov 28, 2000

The right to vote is most cherished right in democracy

HANCOCK: Officials have a responsibility to count and recognize the votes of all who voted in this election. Factors such as administrative inconvenience, expediency, or the limitations of vote reading machines, pale in comparison to protecting the voting rights of our citizens. The right to vote includes the right to have that vote counted. That right is applicable to all persons in our state, throughout the state, in each geographic region of the state, as well as to our residents who are temporarily absent from the state, outside of our boundaries, such as the men and women of the military. The Florida constitution begins with a proposition which we submit should guide the resolution of these cases: All political power is inherent in the people. That means that our citizens are the owners of our government and the role of public officials is to listen to their voices. We do that in part through public elections. The right to vote is perhaps the most cherished right in our democracy.
Source: Supreme Court Argument by Fla. Attorney General's counsel Nov 20, 2000

Counties should have discretion to hold elections as they see fit

HANCOCK: The starting point is determining when can a county do a recount and what are the standards for doing that. That raises the issue of the conflicting opinions that have been issued by the secretary of state and the attorney general. The view of the attorney general is that the state has a statutory structure that allows recounts in certain circumstances. A candidate can request a recount in a county. The county officials then have the discretion to determine whether to allow that recount. The secretary of state has very narrow authority in the conduct of elections. The law provides that counties conduct the elections. A substantial amount of discretion is delegated to the counties. One case I would cite to the court is Roudebush v. Hartke. In deciding that case, the United States Supreme Court noted: A recount is an integral part of the Indiana election process and is within the ambit of the broad powers delegated to the states by Article 1, Section 4 of the United States Constitution.
Source: Supreme Court Argument by Fla. Attorney General's counsel Nov 20, 2000

Florida's vote should be certified by December 12

SUPREME COURT: What is your position as to the date that Florida's electoral votes would be prejudiced or not counted in the Electoral College if there is not a certification by the secretary?

HANCOCK: Dec. 12. The Electoral College meets on December 18. This points to the importance of this court using the full reach of its authority to establish procedures that ensure that this results in a process that is fair, that it counts the vote of all people who attempted to exercise that vote.

Source: Supreme Court Argument by Fla. Attorney General's counsel Nov 20, 2000

Katherine Harris, Florida Secretary of State

Bush sees certification as final; Gore task is to reverse it

Gore will be trying to reverse something that has happened. In political as well as legal terms, that is a taller order, and he is starting to run out of time. Only 16 days remain until the deadline for choosing Florida's electors. Bush seized upon his slight advantage, sailing straight past all the legal arguments still pending with nary a glance, as if the certification were the final word. The governor said he and his running mate, Dick Cheney, were prepared to "undertake the responsibility to serve as America's president and vice president."

When Katherine Harris certified the official result, she draped a cloak of authority over Mr. Bush's claims to victory, here and in the nation as a whole. Mr. Bush's rivals heatedly questioned the cloak's authenticity, but there the cloak was, however tattered it may have seemed to some.

Mr. Gore finds himself in a particularly agonizing position, the clear winner of the national popular vote and the leader in the electoral-vote tally with Florida still in doubt, as his spokesmen never tire of noting as they try to persuade the public that his ongoing fight for Florida is an honorable one.

Source: R. W. Apple, NY Times Nov 26, 2000

Re-certified: Bush wins Florida by 537 votes out of 6 million

We're here today to certify the results of the election that occurred November 7, 2000. The certified result in the presidential race in Florida is as follows: Governor George W. Bush, 2,912,790; Vice President Al Gore, 2,912,253. Accordingly, on behalf of the state Elections Canvassing Commission and in accordance with the laws of the state of Florida, I hereby declare Governor George W. Bush the winner of Florida's 25 electoral votes for the president for the United States.
Source: Statement by Katherine Harris on certification Nov 26, 2000

Rejects Palm Beach recount; uses Nov 14 machine count

In accordance with the direction of the Supreme Court, my office accepted amended returns until 5 p.m. today, and these amendments are reflected in the statewide canvass returns, copies of which will be available.

Palm Beach County has submitted a document that purports to be an amended return, but contains two different compilations of the presidential vote. One set of numbers is identified as partial manual recount that fails to comply with the provisions of [the Florida statute]. The other set of numbers is identified as the machine count required by law in this election, and these numbers are identical to those that were certified by the Palm Beach County canvassing board on November 14. These latter numbers are the numbers included in the statewide canvass.

Source: Statement by Katherine Harris on certification Nov 26, 2000

Disagrees with Florida Supreme Court, but complies with their schedule

We're here today to certify the results of the election that occurred November 7, 2000. It was and it remains my opinion that the appropriate deadlines for filing certified returns in this election are those mandated by the legislature. And it remains my opinion that the proper returns in this election are the returns that were certified by those deadlines. The Florida Supreme Court, however, disagrees. The court created a new schedule for filing certifications and conducting election contests rather than implementing the schedule enacted by the legislature, and that is the schedule that we're following tonight.
Source: Statement by Katherine Harris on certification Nov 26, 2000

No more hand recounts in the three counties requesting it

My staff and I, along with counsel, developed criteria appropriate to the exercise of my discretion under Florida law. This criteria is clearly set forth in Florida case law.

I have applied these criteria in deliberating upon the specific requests of the three counties contemplating manual vote recounts. As a result of these deliberations, I've decided it is my duty under Florida law to exercise my discretion in denying these requested amendments. The reasons given in their requests are insufficient to warrant waiver of the unambiguous filing deadline imposed by the Florida Legislature.

I have communicated this decision with these counties in letters detailing the criteria I used in making my judgments and the application of these criteria to the stated circumstances. And copies of these letters are also available.

Because it is my determination that no amendments to the official returns now on file at the Department of State are warranted, the State Elections Canvassing Commission, acting in its normal and usual manner, has certified the results of Tuesday's election in Florida, including the presidential election. Copies of that portion of the certification relating to the presidential election and the signature pages of the certification are also available.

Source: Statement by Katherine Harris, Florida secretary of state Nov 15, 2000

Bush certified as winning Florida by 300 votes out of 6M

As of 5 p.m. today, the director of the Division of Elections reported receiving certified returns from all 67 counties, as required by law. In the race for the president of the United States, these certified results from Florida's 67 counties for the top two candidates are as follows. Governor George Bush: 2,910,492. Vice President Al Gore: 2,910,192.

The usual practice of the state Elections Canvassing Commission is to certify these returns as soon as the compilations are completed by the division's staff. However, in three Florida counties--Palm Beach, Miami-Dade and Broward Counties--these counties may be contemplating amended returns based upon manual recounts not completed as of today's statutory deadline.

In accordance with today's court ruling confirming my discretion in these matters, I'm requiring a written statement of the facts and circumstances that would cause these counties to believe that a change should be made before the final certification of the state-wide vote. This written statement is due in our office by 2 p.m. tomorrow.

Unless I determine, in the exercise of my discretion, that these facts and circumstances contained within these written statements justify an amendment to today's official returns, the state Elections Canvassing Commission, in a manner consistent with its usual and normal practice, will certify statewide results reported to this office today. Subsequently, the overseas ballots that are due by Friday will also be certified, and the final results of the election for president of the United States of America in the state of Florida will be announced.

Source: Statement by Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris Nov 14, 2000

Pat Buchanan, Reform Party Candidate

Buchanan more a "spoiler" than Nader, in state-by-state analysis

The conventional view is that Nader cost Gore a victory, while Buchanan was not a factor. The popular vote tallies certainly support this analysis: Nader won 2.8 million votes, many of which would have gone to Gore. Buchanan received fewer than 450,000 votes, which might otherwise have gone to Bush.

But like seemingly everything else this year, the closer one looks, the more confusing the voting picture becomes. In fact, were it not for Buchanan, Bush might have spent the last month making cabinet appointments rather than awaiting court verdicts.

As Americans have been forcefully reminded this year, the state-by-state tallies, and the electoral votes that go with them, are what determines who becomes president, not the popular vote. So the key question is which states were so close that third-party voters could have made a difference, had they instead voted for Bush or Gore.

There were 8 states in which no candidate received a majority of votes. In two of them, Maine and Nebraska, Gore won [by more than Buchanan's vote], so those are moot.

In two other states, Florida and New Hampshire, Bush won, but by fewer votes than Nader received. Many Democrats have bitterly said that all the recent chad counting and judicial jousting would have been unnecessary if Nader had quit the race. Gore would then have likely picked up Florida's 25 electoral votes, and maybe NH's four, to boot, giving him the presidency.

That leaves four states, Iowa, New Mexico, Oregon, and Wisconsin, in which Gore won by narrow margins, ranging from 500 to 6,500 votes. In each case, Buchanan's vote total exceeded the difference between Gore and Bush. Combined, these four states account for 30 electoral votes, or one more than Florida and New Hampshire combined.

In other words, if Buchanan has dropped out and his supporters had switched to Bush, Bush would not have needed Florida to become president. He would have won 276 electoral votes—six more than needed—even without Florida.

Of course, nobody knows just how many Buchanan voters would have switched to Bush. Keep in mind that even the fifth-place candidate, the Libertarian Party's Harry Browne, probably got enough conservative votes to swing at least New Mexico—and maybe Oregon and Wisconsin—to Gore.

In a race that will lack a clear winner even after a victor has been declared, picking a spoiler turns out to be as complicated as counting votes.

Click here for state-by-state vote tallies.

Source: Davis Leonhardt, New York Times, p. 4 Dec 10, 2000

Votes for me must count for me

Q: We have a chart that shows all Florida counties. The most you did any of them, with the exception of Palm Beach, was 1,000 votes. In Palm Beach County, you had 3,407 votes. In the state, you had 17,300 votes. Twenty percent of your supporters came fro Palm Beach County, a liberal Democratic county. How do you explain that?

A: Some of my votes clearly were intended to for Gore. But votes for me have to be counted for me.

Q: Some people were confused by this butterfly ballot.

A: You can't go on what we think people intended. You got to go on the votes as they were done and as they were counted. The Gore people are exaggerating. Let me give you an example. They mentioned Delray Beach. I think I got 49 votes, and they say there's no way I could have gotten that. I've got a condominium in Delray Beach. I go to the pancake house every morning, and a lot of people are very friendly. And the fact that I got 50 votes there is not outrageous.

Source: Interview with Wolf Blitzer on CNN Nov 12, 2000

Gore win could result from Democrats counting votes

Q: What about the Florida recount?

A: Bush won the popular vote in Florida, Bush won the recount. The Democrats are demanding a recount by hand in four counties that are heavily Democratic. That not only lends itself to human error, it opens the thing up to more than just mischief. People can look up those ballots, say, "Well, a tie, let's give it to our friend Al Gore." The machine is not going to give something to Al Gore that he didn't get.

Q: Who is in the stronger position, right now, knowing what we know right now, to win Florida?

A: If you recount the votes in Democratic counties, with Democrats recounting, there is a likelihood they are going to find more votes for Gore. Gore could well come out of this thing ahead before you get to the absentee ballots. Democrats play hardball better than Republicans. If they get a lead on this thing, they will say it is Al Gore's election. The possibility exists this could be taken away from the Republicans.

Source: Interview with Wolf Blitzer on CNN Nov 12, 2000

Ralph Nader, Green Party Candidate

Nader: Margin of votes is less than margin of error: decide it by coin toss

Ralph Nader has a simple solution to the stalemate in Florida: Toss a coin. "It sounds kind of arbitrary. But I'm not joking," he said. "There's really no other way to end this. At this point, no one's ever going to know who really won Florida." Nader said that, ideally, a team of nonpartisan volunteers should recount by hand all votes cast in all Florida counties. But, given the Dec. 12 deadline to pick a winner, he acknowledges that's not a remedy the Florida Supreme Court likely will hand down.

Speaking before Tuesday night's decision, Nader said a ruling to accept hand recounts in only a few Democratic counties would be perceived as biased because most of the justices are Democrats. Likewise, he said, a move by Florida's Republican-majority legislature to name Republican partisans as that state's electors would be unfair. Meantime, Nader added, the longer the standoff continues, the more ballots will be mishandled and tainted.

"It's razor close, and the margin of error is bigger than the margin between them," he said. "Whoever wins is going to have half the nation against them. It's going to leave a bad taste in the American people's mouths." So, Nader proposes that Gore and Bush settle the standoff with a coin toss.

He claimed to be following the Florida standoff "only casually," saying he doesn't much care who wins. "They're just two lookalike candidates from two lookalike parties that are looking more and more alike. Whoever the winner, he'll just keep hijacking the American governmental system," he said.

Source: Denver Post Nov 22, 2000

Gore has only himself to blame for defeat and a bad campaign

Gore ran a poor campaign, failed to attract new voters and remained a captive of the conservative Democratic Leadership Council and the special commercial interests that financed his campaign. He entered the election with every advantage against a marginal, ill-equipped and corporate-dominated Texas Governor. Yet, he mismanaged his campaign into a deadlock and now has only himself to blame for the Democratic fiasco.

In the end, Al Gore made his appeal on one major campaign pitch - that he was not George W. Bush. That simply was not enough to bring millions of stay-at-home voters to the polls.

Source: Interview in Washington D.C. Nov 10, 2000

Harry Browne, Libertarian Party Candidate

Florida is full of partisan power brokers

The Florida ballot fiasco has produced at least one valuable benefit: It has shown us exactly how government actually operates.

Almost everyone watching the news from Florida can see that anyone with the power to affect the outcome -- the secretary of state, the various judges, the many local election-board officials -- is a Democrat or Republican who is acting according to his own partisan interest.

So the final outcome won't depend on "truth" or "justice" or "fairness" -- but on the party affiliation of whoever turns out to be the person making the final decision. In other words, what should be a non-partisan, objective ruling will instead be a partisan, politically motivated decision.

Is that the way government should operate? Perhaps not, but that's the way government does operate. And that's the way government always operates.

In fact, if politicians will act in such a blatantly self-interested way as they have in Florida with the whole country watching them, imagine what they do when there's no press coverage of their decisions.

Source: Press Release, "Liberty Wire" Nov 22, 2000

The above quotations are from official sources on the Florida Recount.
Click here for quotes from the Gore campaign.
Click here for quotes from the Bush campaign.
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