Addicted to CNN

I didn't want to say anything about this election anymore, but I'm sorry I just can't resist:

Overheard on a US AM Radio Station (from California I think) this evening on the way home from squash...

(Note: I live in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada)

H = Female Radio Host
C = Male Caller


C: (something about hand recounting being wrong)

H: That sounds Clintonian to me... In 1997, Bush passed a law in Texas which states that during a recount, a "manual recount is preferrable to an electronic recount". That suggests that a manual recount is better. So how is it better in Texas, but not in Florida?

C: Yeah, on the surface it would appear that way, but if you dig deeper...

H: How much deeper do we have to dig???

C: Just one level. (JIM: <-- Those were his exact words) In Texas the law is state-wide, in Florida it's up to each county to decide how to do their recount.

H: But how does that make a hand recount bad in Florida?

C: Well you might have a Democrat looking at a ballot and saying it's half-way through, the intent was to vote for Gore, and the Republican next to him would say "No the voter changed their mind half-way through that's not a vote".

H: So?

C: Well it's subjective.

JIM: Note: According to officials I saw on CNN, there are guidelines which suggest which kind of undervotes (see definition below) may be counted and which may not. It's not subjective on a ballot-by-ballot basis.

C: In Texas the law explicitly states that there not be any subjectivity!

H: OF COURSE the law says that! Of course there isn't supposed to be subjectivity in an election, anywhere, including Florida!!! You'd have the same situation happening in Texas. Bush's law says a hand count is preferrable, better. So why wouldn't it be better in Florida too?

C: Well it's only being done in selected Democratic counties.

JIM: The republicans had their chance to request recounts whereever they wanted, upto 72 hours after the election, and they didn't.

H: But a manual recount was done in Seminole, a Republican country, with Democrats and Republicans side by side, and Bush gained 98 votes out of that hand recount. You don't hear Bush complaining about THAT result! He isn't asking for that result to be ignored!

JIM: Baker, Bush's Recount Committee Coordinator, said a hand recount is partisan, biased and prone to human error.

H: If it's okay in Seminole, why not in the counties that the Democrats requested manual recounts in?

C: They're filing the injunction so that the manual recount will be done state-wide, not just in selected areas.

H: No they're not, I have the papers right in front of me, they're just trying to stop the hand recount in the counties the Gore campaign has requested.

C: The Republicans had 72 hours to request recounts and they blew it (JIM: yes, he said "blew it") so I guess now they're filing the lawsuit so try to get it done state-wide.

The host said some more here, but I can't remember it. It doesn't really matter.

She also mentioned that only undervotes are being reconsidered here, not overvotes. An undervote is when the machine thinks NO vote was made, an overvote is when the machine thinks more than one vote was made.

However, there were 19000 overvotes, and only 10000 undervotes. (I'm pretty sure these numbers are for Palm Beach County only... this article suggests Duval County had 26,000 overvotes -- I don't know offhand if Duval uses the butterfly ballot or not)

Apparently, overvotes are very rare compared to undervotes. About .1% is an expectable number of overvotes. She spat out some numbers saying that there were .13 (I assume percentage) overvotes in the races for educational (something or other), and the house.. .82 for the Senate and 4.1% (!!!) for the presidential race.

She also said in 1996, there were 15000 invalid votes, but that included overvotes and undervotes, the former being much more rare... so in this election you have twice the number of invalid ballots, and many times more overvotes than in the last election, in fact more than all the invalid ballots combined, meaning that you can't just say this was the normal % of stupid people who can't get it right, there was something serious wrong that was causing widespread voter confusion.

So, my conclusion as to why Bush, who passed a law in Texas stating manual recounts were preferrable to electronic recounts would try to stop a manual recount in Florida where there were a huge, disproportionate number of electronic undervotes which may be considered real votes (unless the "chad" is of the "pregnant" or "dimple" variety (according to Florida officials I heard on CNN :-)), which one would assume is the exact reason the Bush bill states a manual recount was considered preferrable...

Bush knows he's lost the real election, but wants to win the broken election.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but everything the Gore campaign have done is within within their rights based on the Constitution of the USA, which Bush repeatedly keeps on saying he believes in so strongly, and Floridian law. It's Bush that's going to court to try to interfere with the election process as defined under the Constitution, and Florida State and County law.

I understand why either party would want to privately assume that they've one the election and start transition plans -- this is complex and they are eager to get started... but I think it's arrogant and shows his lack of respect for the American people when he publicly declares victory before all overseas ballots have been counted and states he's already setting up his administration.

I was anti-Bush before (never really pro-Gore, I was really pro-Nader) but now I really think this guy shouldn't be President.

I would have voted for Gore, because I would have known Nader couldn't win and didn't want to see Bush as the president, but I would have wanted to vote for Nader. I believe in a flat-tax system, specifically the Fairtax initiative, in case you're curious.

Update... From (which I found by visiting this page), this passage of the bill that affirms a hand count is more accurate than a machine count:

"(d) If different counting methods are chosen under Section 214.042(a) among multiple requests for a recount of electronic voting system results, only one method may be used in the recount. A manual recount shall be conducted in preference to an electronic recount and an electronic recount using a corrected program shall be conducted in preference to an electronic recount."


Written on November 12, 2000