- The Washington Times - Monday, November 13, 2000

10,000 votes?

Former Sen. Bob Dole, the Republican presidential nominee in 1996, says a study will be released tomorrow suggesting that the TV networks, by calling Florida for Al Gore even before the polls closed there, "cost George Bush 10,000 votes" in that state.

Mr. Dole did not say who conducted the study or how such a conclusion was reached.

"How do we go back and find these people who went home after the early network call and didn't vote?" Mr. Dole asked.

Take your time

"Based on the nine hours which the hand 'count' of 1 percent of Palm Beach County's precincts took, it will take over 37 days for humans to examine the remaining votes there, assuming they work 24 hours a day," observes Marc Levin, executive vice president of the American Freedom Center.

Fasten seat belts

Debbie Schlussel, who writes a www.jewishworldreview.com column, is something of an expert on recounts she lost a race for the Michigan House by just one vote in 1990, the closest contest in the history of that state.

"And if my recount and resulting legal challenge is any experience, we're in for a long, bumpy ride," Miss Schlussel said.

"We may not know the true winner for days, weeks, even months. Just like in Florida, they checked and rechecked the results of my race, and then the election commission certified the results. But that's where the 'fun' began.

"Like in Florida, much of my district used punch-card ballots in voting. We began a manual recount, which took over a month, for one small state legislative district with less than 50 precincts and only about 10,000 total votes cast… .

"In my case, we had to examine each punch card with magnifying glasses. We had to turn each punch card over to see if the punch (the chad) was still hanging, and by how many corners, to determine the voter's intent. (One corner indicated the voter meant to punch the chad out and vote for the particular candidate signified. Three corners meant no intentional vote, and the card had to be set aside for careful manual counting so as not to upset the hanging dot of chad and change the vote.)

"Imagine doing this for millions of votes. And every time punch-card ballots are run through the machines for a count, more chads (punches) inadvertently fall off the ballots, possibly changing the results each time the ballots are electronically counted. That's what happened to me. One time I was winning. But they ran them through more times, until I was losing."

Looks like it

Republican National Committee Chairman Jim Nicholson, interviewed Saturday on CNN's "Evans, Novak, Hunt & Shields," denounced the hand recounts of presidential votes under way in some Florida counties.

"You can't just keep counting and counting until … you get the count that you like. That's not fair to voters in other parts of Florida, nor is it fair to voters in other parts of the United States," Mr. Nicholson said.

Asked by host Robert Novak if he believes the Democrats are trying to "steal" the presidential election, the Republican Party chief said: "That's your terminology. And it looks like that seems to be what they're doing."

Mr. Nicholson noted that William Daley, who chaired Al Gore's campaign, has said "there's only one outcome in this election that's acceptable … and that is that they win. Any other outcome is illegitimate."

Child's play

"It's a ballot that perplexed Florida voters but was no match for the wits of first- and fourth-graders at Stockwell Elementary School in Bossier City," the Shreveport (Louisiana) Times reported Friday.

"Disillusioned and upset by the lingering chaos of this week's presidential election, fourth-grade teacher Lisa Burns pulled a sample of the controversial Palm Beach County, Fla., ballot off the Internet on Thursday. She then put her class of 9- and 10-year-olds to the test," reporter Don Walker writes.

" 'I gave them a ballot and had them take a blue marker to vote for Al Gore and a red marker to vote for George Bush. Then I had them put their name on the bottom of the ballot and turn it in.'

"Turns out this election was mere child's play. Not one of the 22 students present in class Thursday was confused by the ballot. Each one was marked without error.

Well, if a fourth-grader could do it, how about a first-grader? Down the hall in Stacey Robinson's class, the ballot was handed out to 6-and 7-year-olds. Miss Robinson used an overhead projector to point out Gore's name, then asked the class of 24 students to find his bubble on the punch-card ballot.

" 'It wasn't a vote, Robinson said. 'I just wanted to experiment to see if they could find the correct bubble.' When the ballots were turned in, 19 of the first-graders marked the correct bubble for Gore, three picked Buchanan's bubble, one picked Bush's and one marked the bottom bubble for the 'Natural Law' party.

" 'If a first-grader can choose the correct bubble, there's no legitimate claim. Anyone could have done it,' Robinson said. 'A grown adult who took any time at all could find it.' "

By the numbers

The recount in Florida that has narrowed the gap for Al Gore by more than 1,400 votes so far does not jibe with statistical probability, the Las Vegas Sun reports.

The newspaper said Friday that University of Nevada at Las Vegas economics professor Tom Carroll, a Democrat, "began running statistical equations Thursday on the net gains both Gore, who gained more than 2,200 votes, and Texas Gov. George W. Bush, who added about 700 votes, have made in the recount. He found that the statistical chance for such large and different totals to occur as a result of random glitches was less than 'infinitesimal.' "

Said the professor: "The probability of being struck by lightning is about one in a million. The same person would have to be hit by lightning 30 times to compare with what we've seen in this recount."

Mr. Carroll based his computations on the notion that ballots in Florida "were the result of computer or human mistakes." He said that "a recount is a 50-50 proposition, so statistically speaking, making up something like 1,700 votes is highly unlikely."

He added: "For this to have been just random error is statistically unlikely. It wouldn't be unlikely to see some changes in the number of votes during a recount, but the differences should come much closer to canceling each other out."

Back to spin

ABC political correspondent George Stephanopoulos used to earn his living as a Clinton-Gore spin doctor, but he has tried hard to be evenhanded since moving into the news booth. However, Mr. Stephanopoulos, in a panel discussion yesterday on ABC's "This Week," sounded just like Gore campaign manager William Daley. And he used an argument accepted by only the most partisan Democrats, such as Rep. Robert Wexler, Florida Democrat, and Jesse Jackson.

In fact, Mr. Stephanopoulos declared that Al Gore was victorious in Florida no matter what.

"There is no question, or very little question, that Al Gore won the votes cast in the state of Florida," Mr. Stephanopoulos declared.

"The question is, will he win the votes counted? Look at the statistics. In the rest of the state of Palm Beach County, Buchanan was strongest in the precincts where Bush was strongest. In Palm Beach, he was strongest where Gore was strongest. Because they were right next to each other on the ballot. Even more important, in the rest of the state, Buchanan got the same percentage of votes on the ballots as he did in absentees. In Palm Beach County, he got four times more votes on this butterfly ballot than he did on absentees. Listen, if this race is counted fairly, Al Gore won more votes in Florida."

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