- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 14, 2000

With all the charges and countercharges, state court cases and federal court cases, court-ordered injunctions issued and court-requested injunctions denied, vote counts and vote recounts, mechanical recounts and manual recounts, all of which have proliferated in Florida in the aftermath of the presidential election just concluded, perhaps it is time to consider some math that isn't the least bit fuzzy. To do so confirms the sound judgment of Florida's Secretary of State Katherine Harris who yesterday reaffirmed today's 5 p.m. deadline for counties to submit their final vote tallies. And it demonstrates the constitutional necessity for overturning on appeal the decision made yesterday by U.S. District Court Judge Donald Middlebrooks, who denied the Bush campaign's request for an immediate injunction blocking Florida's manual recount.

In requesting manual recounts in only four of Florida's 67 counties (Palm Beach, Volusia, Miami-Dade and Broward), the Gore campaign, in the person of the formerly esteemed Secretary of State Warren Christopher, has maintained that these counties were chosen because of the "irregularities" and "anomalies" that the Gore campaign inferred from the voting results there. Mr. Christopher even makes this claim with a straight face.

The strongest evidence he provides is the fact that about 30,000 voters in Palm Beach County either voted for two presidential candidates (an "overvote") on their ballots or failed to vote for any presidential candidate (an "undervote"). In both circumstances, in accordance with Florida law, their ballots were not counted in tallying the votes for president.

Nearly 425,000 votes were counted on behalf of both Al Gore and George W. Bush in Palm Beach County. Thus, cumulative "overvotes" and "undervotes" in Palm Beach County represented 7 percent of the vote cast for the two major party candidates. This fact represented an "irregularity" or an "anomaly" take your pick. In Duval County, by way of comparison, there were 26,000 "overvotes" and "undervotes," or 10 percent of the 260,000 votes cast for the two major candidates. Yet, Mr. Gore's campaign identified no "irregularity" or "anomaly" there, and has sought no manual recount. Why not? Call us cynical, but from here it seems that Palm Beach County, where Mr. Gore received 64 percent of the two-party vote, offered a far more attractive opportunity to search for additional votes by way of an arbitrary manual recount than was offered by Duval County, where Mr. Bush enjoyed a 17-percent advantage over Mr. Gore.

Of course, Palm Beach County wasn't unique among the four counties whose election officials Mr. Gore's campaign petitioned for a manual recount. In Broward County, Mr. Gore received 69 percent of the two-party vote, recording a 210,000 vote advantage over Mr. Bush. Volusia and Miami-Dade counties also reflected substantial Gore margins. These are what are known as a target-rich environments.

According to the Associated Press' unofficial tally following the electronic recount, Mr. Bush leads Mr. Gore by 388 votes in Florida's statewide election, in which 6 million people voted for either Mr. Gore or Mr. Bush. Yet, in the four counties identified by the Gore campaign as having "irregularities" and "anomalies," Mr. Gore received more than 60 percent of the two-party vote, piling up an advantage of more than 380,000 votes, or nearly 1,000 times more votes than the 388-vote advantage Mr. Bush enjoyed after the statewide recount.

Mr. Gore's highly selective choices of counties for manual recounts had nothing to do with "irregularities" and "anomalies," but everything to do with partisan political advantage. Florida Secretary of State Harris clearly understood this. Judge Middlebrooks was obviously confused by Mr. Gore's fuzzy math.

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