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The truth about the NORC recount of the 2000 election

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eomer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-03-04 07:47 AM
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The truth about the NORC recount of the 2000 election
In the brief time since I joined DU I've seen numerous posts about the recount of the 2000 election that was sponsored by a group of media organizations and carried out by the NORC. Every one I've seen misstates the results of that study.

This topic also came up in yesterday's appearance by Cliff Arnebeck on C-Span. Steve Scully, the C-Span moderator, misstated the results and had to be corrected by Arnebeck.

And I find that when this topic comes up in conversation the results are usually misstated. The misstatement always goes something like this, "But there was a recount of the 2000 election and it showed that Bush won".

If this happens to you and you would like to know the facts, here they are.

NORC, out of the University of Chicago, conducted the study in 2001 after Bush was inaugurated. They examined all of the undervote and overvote ballots in all 67 counties of Florida. They built a database containing each ballot and the counters' interpretation of the chads (punch cards) and marks (optical scan and absentee).

Once the database was built, they ran nine scenarios as to which counties were counted according to which standard. They multiplied these nine scenarios times two agreement criteria (majority vs. unanimous) for a total of eighteen possible results.

Of these eighteen possible ways the vote could have been recounted, Bush won seven and Gore won eleven.

Specifically, Bush won if the recount that Gore requested would have been finished (four counties). Gore won if you recounted the whole state.

The whole-state recount is the most important scenario, at least to me, because it is the one that gets to the heart of the question - who won if every legitimate voter's vote was counted.

But even if you don't agree with that assessment, you have to admit that the statements being floated around that the NORC recount showed that Bush won Florida in 2000 are, at best, misleading because they forget to tell you that Gore won in more than half the scenarios, including the one where the whole state was recounted.

Please feel free to doublecheck what I'm saying and comment if you disagree. But do me a favor - if you disagree then be specific and base it on the facts. Here is the home page for the NORC recount project:
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rainy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-03-04 07:56 AM
Response to Original message
1. The reason people get it so wrong is because some of the
media either never reported it correctly or just didn't report it at all. If it was reported it was burried in the back of the paper some where. This should have been a screaming headlline, but, all I remember was some report out of Miami headlined Bush Won with your info burried deep at the end of the article.
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New Earth Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-03-04 08:01 AM
Response to Original message
2. let this NOT be the case for this election
let's count all the votes NOW, not AFTER inauguration.
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bemis12 Donating Member (594 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-03-04 08:09 AM
Response to Original message
3. Almost, but not quite

Bush won the statewide recount under the methodology that individual counties said they would have used.

Gore won statewide when everyone used the non-restrictive Palm Beach standard.

"Using the NORC data, the media consortium examined what might have happened if the U.S. Supreme Court had not intervened. The Florida high court had ordered a recount of all undervotes that had not been counted by hand to that point. If that recount had proceeded under the standard that most local election officials said they would have used, the study found that Bush would have emerged with 493 more votes than Gore."

"Out of Palm Beach County emerged one of the least restrictive standards for determining a valid punch-card ballot. The county elections board determined that a chad hanging by up to two corners was valid and that a dimple or a chad detached in only one corner could also count if there were similar marks in other races on the same ballot. If that standard had been adopted statewide, the study shows a slim, 42-vote margin for Gore."

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eomer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-03-04 08:47 AM
Response to Reply #3
5. CNN spin is misleading
What you're quoting is CNN's take on the results, not the results themselves, and it's misleading.

See the article published by the NORC that states their conclusions: (slow loading pdf)

Seven of the nine scenarios involved a whole state recount. Of those, Bush won only one, the one called "Florida Supreme Court Simple". One was split between Bush and Gore based on the agreement criteria. In the other five, Gore won.

The one whole state recount that Bush would have won has been ruled unconstitutional by the US Supreme Court since it applies different standards in different counties.

Of the six whole state scenarios that have not been ruled unconstitutional, Gore won five and the sixth was split as explained above.

So you can see that the facts cited by CNN were very selective and invited the reader to draw a conclusion that wasn't reflective of the results of the study.
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procopia Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-03-04 08:19 AM
Response to Original message
4. The important thing is
Edited on Fri Dec-03-04 08:22 AM by procopia
NORC found if all legal ballots had been counted, Gore had more votes by any standard of counting.

A lot of people are confused about determining the intent of overvotes, but if the same name was both checked and written in, it is a legal overvote.
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Carolab Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-03-04 08:48 AM
Response to Original message
6. Um, one MAJOR point being missed here--machine "error"
there was a "mysterious loss" of over 16,000 votes for Gore on a Volusia County machine that "counted backwards". That was discovered before the certification and before the recount. Look it up.
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IndyOp Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-03-04 09:39 AM
Response to Reply #6
8. They 'gave' the votes they had stolen back to Gore...
after the -16,022 'error' was discovered. So it alone would not have changed the election results. The fact of this very obvious sort of error does leave open the possibility that a lot more votes were being added to Bush's tally or subtracted from Gores - but I don't know of any evidence that this was the case. We do know that the -16,022 had a big impact on media and public sentiment -- such that the Supreme Court decision went through without protest. There should have been huge protests -from someone other than the Republican congressional staffers who were flown to Florida on Halliburton jets to protest the recounts.

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IndyOp Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-03-04 09:33 AM
Response to Original message
7. Important: Computer fraud in FLA 2000 helped stopped the recount!
Edited on Fri Dec-03-04 09:33 AM by IndyOp
The NORC reported that if all overvotes & undervotes had been counted for the entire state Gore won by 60-171 votes no matter what standard was used - strict or lax. The Wikipedia summary of the NORDC report is on target. < >

I think it is really, really important that we make sure that people understand that computer vote fraud was part of why the FLA recounts were stopped.

FLORIDA (2000): Chapter 13 in the book Black Box Voting< > details what happened in the 2000 Presidential election in Florida. At10 p.m. on election night, a Democratic Party election official, Deborah Tannenbaum, called the county elections department and found that Al Gore was leading George W. Bush 83,000 votes to 62,000 votes. But when she checked the countys Web site for an update half an hour later, she found a startling development: Gores count had dropped by 16,000 votes, while an obscure Socialist candidate had picked up 10,000 - all because of a single precinct with only 600 voters.

Additional research reported by Black Box Voting revealed that Precinct 216 gave Al Gore a 16,022 when votes were uploaded at approximately 10:30 p.m. on election night. On January 17, Volusia County employee Lana Hires asked the technical staff at Global Election Systems for help. I need some answers! she wrote. Our department is being audited by the County. I have been waiting for someone to give me an explanation as to why Precinct 216 gave Al Gore a minus 16,022 hen it as uploaded. Talbot Iredale of Global Election Systems replied: Only the presidential totals were incorrectThe problem precinct has two memcory cards uploaded. The second one is the one I believe caused the problem. They were uploaded on the same port approx. 1 hour apart. As far as I know there should have only been one memory card uploaded.

What was the impact of Volusia error on the election? Again, Black Box Voting reports: At some point between 10:16 pm and 1:12 am Bush took the lead in the state and the gap between Bush and Gore widened by an amount sufficient to cause FOX, NBC, CBS, and ABC to call Florida for Bush. By 4:00 a.m. the Volusia error had been corrected and CBS News retracted the call for Bush. According to a CBS internal report, the call for Bush was based entirely on the tabulated county vote. There were several errors that were responsible for that mistake. The most egregious of the data errors has been well documented. Vote reports from Volusia County.

The fact that the state *had* at one point been called for Bush set up the Republicans to claim that Bush was the winner and Gore just a whiner ("Sore Loserman"). The media ran with the story and the public didn't explore with outrage when the court stopped the count.

Those who do not know their history are DOOMED to repeat it.
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