- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 29, 2000

When Al Gore went to court to challenge George W. Bush's now-certified election victory in Florida, he insisted that he did so only because he wanted thousands of Florida ballots to be counted for the first time. "Ignoring votes means ignoring democracy itself," Mr. Gore asserted in his nationwide address Monday evening. "Great efforts have been made to prevent the counting of these votes," he charged.

In fact, with the exception of hundreds of overseas absentee ballots cast by American soldiers and sailors, which Democratic lawyers successfully challenged for hypertechnical reasons, every Florida ballot has been counted at least twice: They were counted on Election Day. And they were counted in the statewide mandatory recount that immediately followed. Ballots in Broward and Palm Beach counties the two counties that provided Mr. Gore with his biggest Florida margins (210,000 and 117,000 votes, respectively) were counted at least three times. Even if Palm Beach County had completed its manual recount in time to meet a court-ordered deadline, it still wouldn't have generated enough votes for Mr. Gore to overcome the Bush lead.

So now that Mr. Gore has decided to contest the election, he is seeking not just another manual recount in Palm Beach, but one with a standard likely to result in more votes, not surprisingly, for Mr. Gore: He wants mere "dimpled" ballots indented but unpierced paper squares or "chads" next to the candidate's name to count as tallies for president even though voters managed to vote for other candidates on the same ballot by punching out the chads completely. These are the famous "undercount" ballots. Mr. Gore does not want to admit the possibility that like countless other voters across the country, Palm Beach County voters may simply have declined to vote for president even while voting for other offices. Mr. Gore is also challenging on similar grounds approximately 10,750 ballots cast and counted at least two times in Miami-Dade County.

Interestingly, this request comes in the wake of an earlier debacle in Miami-Dade. When it became clear that it would be impossible for Miami-Dade to conduct a manual recount of all the county's 654,000 ballots by a court-ordered Nov. 26 deadline, election canvassing board members there, a majority of whom are Democrats, unanimously voted Nov. 22 to drop the effort. The board explained its decision saying it was based on fairness to all voters in the county. "We simply can't get it done," elections supervisor and board chairman David Leahy told reporters after the board's unanimous vote. "We decided that it was going to be a full hand recount or nothing." The next day the Florida Supreme Court summarily rejected a Democratic appeal to require Miami-Dade to resume its recount.

At this point, it seems clear that Mr. Gore intends to recount and recount until he wins the Florida election. Nothing in the law requires Florida or U.S. courts to give him that opportunity.

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