- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 3, 2000

We used to joke in the Middle West that "if anybody ever saw sausage being made they wouldn't eat it."

I was reminded of this after spending nearly four hours in Broward County, Fla., watching the manual vote "counting." If objective Americans could watch these votes being "counted," they would never swallow it. I know. I was there.

As I sat there, the vote counters became vote casters. How is this possible? It's possible because of the Gore campaign's insistence on counting votes that were not votes.

The Gore campaign tells us they want every vote to be counted. But every vote has been counted, at least twice. Curtis Gans of the Committee for the Study of the American Electorate estimates that this year there were between 2.1 million and 2.8 million ballots nationwide that did not have a vote for president. Why? Many voters go to the polls to vote for their representative, their senator or their mayor, and do not cast a vote for president. That's their right. And between 2 million and 3 million Americans exercised that right in this year's election.

Yet it is precisely these non-votes that have the Gore campaign salivating.

They believe they can translate these non-votes into Gore votes. How? It's simple. By using Democratic canvassers in Democratic counties to hand recount the votes. When one of the non-votes is reviewed, the canvassers suddenly gain biblical powers and "divine" that a voter meant to vote for president even though the voter didn't cast a vote for president.

Of course, it's helpful to have a standard to use. And the Gore team had one. A non-vote is a Gore vote. It's that simple. I witnessed the Democratic majority again and again look at a dimpled ballot and determine that it was a vote for Al Gore and yes, some, not many, for George W. Bush too. While I'm not now questioning anyone's integrity, it's fair to say, Republican or Democrat counters will have a bias in favor of their candidate and that was the case in Broward County. When all was said and done, Mr. Gore had a net gain increase of 583 votes and in a close race, that's a lot of sausage.

Al Gore lost in Florida not once, but four times. He lost on Election Night, he lost on the machine recount, he lost after the overseas absentee ballots were counted, and he lost on the vote certification. And now with a concession by Mr. Gore, we will have resolved the closest, most hotly contested election in more than a century. While the electoral process is certainly not perfect in Florida, or any other state, the law should never permit a candidate to change the rules again and again, after the election, until he is finally declared the winner.

Al Gore waged a tough campaign, and came up just a little short. He called for a recount and the Florida Supreme Court gave him everything he asked for but he still came up short. Now, he should begin the process of helping to bring Americans of all political persuasions together. The lawsuits should end, the lawyers should exit, and the healing should begin. It may be the road less traveled, but it is the honorable one.

Bob Dole, a former Republican member of the U.S. Senate from Kansas, was his party's 1996 nominee for the presidency.

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