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COUP WATCH: Bush Seeks To Block Hand Recounts, Thwarting More Accurate Count

by Paul H. Rosenberg Sunday, Nov. 12, 2000 at 6:22 AM

After days of attacking Democrats for considering going to court, the Bush campaign went to court itself, seeking to block a hand recount, which would produce a more accurate total. Reporter has first-hand experience with hand recounts & critiques AP's biased and/or ignorant reporting.

errorCOUP WATCH: Bush Seeks To Block Hand Recounts, Thwarting More Accurate Count

After days of attacking Democrats for considering going to court, the Bush campaign suddenly reversed itself on the principles involved and went to court itself. Bush campaign lawyers went to federal court in Florida today, trying to block hand recounts in several counties, which were about to begin today.

Hand recounts allow a more accurate count, since machine counts miss partial punches which have been known to occur at rates well over 1 in 1,000. Thus, hand recounts could easily wipe out Bushs razor-thin lead, even without addressing the thwarted will of voters who mistakenly voted for Buchanan or double-punched for Buchana and Gore.

Gore picked up 643 votes in Palm Beach County with the machine recount--a strong indication that he would pick up many more if each ballot was individually examined. High changes in machine recounts are almost certainly the result of partial punches being loosened by the electronic counting process so that they are counted the second time around. Typically in such cases, the punched out piece of the voting card, called a chad, is still stuck in the hole it was punched from, perhaps simply lodged there, perhaps still weakly attached at some point. Some but not all of such chads get dislodged in the process of machine counting.

Hand recounts--which this reporter personally participated in following a disputed 1992 L.A. County supervisors race--are able to detect all such partial punches, even including ones in which the chad isnt punched through at all, but is deeply indented, perhaps with one or two sides separated from the surrounding ballot. The standard for evaluating votes by hand is the clear intention of the voter, which humans can indivually judge in such cases, while machines clearly cannot. Typically, each count is witnessed by representatives from both campaigns, and any disputed ballots are reviewed by recount supervisors. Records are usually kept so that all such disputed calls can be reviewed when necessary.

The Bush campaign has been remarkably effective in keeping this basic information from the American people, with the help of the corporate medias usual inattention to basic facts, in favor of balancing sound bites from both sides. The AP report announcing that Bush would seek the injunction quoted Bush spokesman James Baker (Former Secretary of State) saying that Republicans were acting "to preserve the integrity, consistency, equality and finality" of the Florida vote.

Anyone familiar with the process of hand recounts knows that they only enhance the integrity and consistency of vote counts, while granting equality to those voters whose votes were not counted by machine. The only accurate part of Bakers unchallenged statement concerned finality, a truism also used to defend the swift execution of prisoners to forestall possible proof of their innocence by DNA analysis or other means.

AP also reported, Baker insisted that a manual recount would be more susceptible to error than a machine tally, and went on to quote him directly: Machines are neither Republicans nor Democrats and therefore can be neither consciously or unconsciously biased. Since hand recounts always involve two separate tallies, and they pick up votes that machines cannot record, its universally recognized by those whove actually been involved in hand recounts that they are *less* susceptible to error. Furthermore, since each ballot would be counted by *both* Republicans and Democrats the issue of bias, conscious or unconscious, is simply irrelevent.

Neither did AP question the supposed reliability of machine counts. While theres a straightforward explanation for higher vote totals with each machine recount, theres no explanation aside from machine error when machine recounts produce lower totals. But this is exactly what happened in 18 out of 134 county totals (2 each for 67 counties). In Pinellas county Bushs recount total fell 61 votes, while Gores total increased 417. In Nassau county both recount totals fell, Gore by 73 votes, Bush by 124. These results clearly show that machine counts do not guarantee reliability.

AP was either abysmally ignorant about the basics of recounts or else was willingly complicit in misleading the American people.

The AP story did include a bland generic statement from Gore campaign spokesman Doug Hattaway, "We don't see any reason why people's votes should not be counted, this is part of ensuring a full, fair and accurate count of the vote," but this statement does nothing to counter, much less expose the lies contained in Bakers statements.


See link below for original AP story.

Recount totals are avaiable at: http://foxnews.com/fn99/elections/florida_recount.html
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