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How The Miami Herald Legitimized the Florida 2000 Selection [View All]

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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Feb-20-06 02:06 PM
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How The Miami Herald Legitimized the Florida 2000 Selection
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Following their re-count of the Florida 2000 Presidential vote in 2001, the Miami Herald made public statements about their findings which, though very misleading, tended to legitimize that election to the American public. Those statements were then parroted by the corporate media, with the result that many or most Americans believe even today that Bushs ascendance to the Presidency in 2000 was legitimate. Therefore, it is important IMO for us to be able to explain WHY the public statements made by the Miami Herald about the re-count of the 2004 Florida election were misleading.

Here is the statement I refer to, made by the Miami Herald in their 2001 book, The Miami Herald Report Democracy Held Hostage The Complete Investigation of the 2000 Presidential Election Including Results of the Independent Recount, found on page 167:

Finally conclusions emerged. Paramount among those conclusions: Bush almost certainly would have won the presidential election even if the U.S. Supreme Court had not halted the statewide recount of under-votes ordered by the Florida Supreme Court.


Counting of the Florida under-vote

The Heralds conclusion was based on their counting of the under-votes in Florida, as had been mandated by the Florida Supreme Court before the vote counting was stopped by the U.S. Supreme Court. In other words, the Herald looked at all ballots that did not register a vote for President, in order to see if they could ascertain the intention of the voters. In the case of counties that used optical scan machines, that meant ballots that had marks on them (but had not been read by the machines) indicating a choice for President. In the case of punch card counties that meant ballots (not read by the machines) where there appeared to be an attempt to punch through an area of the ballot that indicated a choice for President. This included ballots with clear punches, hanging chads, small holes known as pinpricks, and indentations in the ballot (sometimes called pregnant chads).

Bush had been certified the winner of the Florida election by Secretary of State Katherine Harris, by 537 votes. That total included a net lead for Gore in Broward County of 567 votes, based on a re-counting of the under-votes in that County. That means that Bush held a 1,104 vote lead when only machine counted votes were included in the total. So, in order to come to the conclusion that Gore won the election, he would have to have enough of an advantage among the under-votes to overcome that 1,104 vote Bush lead among the votes that had been registered by the voting machines. The Herald goes on to add up the numbers, based on their counting and the Florida Supreme Court rulings, and they come up with a total which shows a Bush victory by 1,665 votes. Thats their final and most publicized conclusion.

But wait. Look at the Appendix at the back of the book, and add up the totals. Gore has 995 more under-votes than Bush in the punch card counties and 319 more votes than Bush in the optical scan counties. Thats a total of 1,314 more votes than Bush among the under-votes. Hmm. Doesnt that overcome the 1,104 lead that Bush had from the machine counts? Indeed it does. Counting of all the under-votes results in a win for Gore of 1,314 votes minus 1,104 votes = 210 votes.

How did that happen? How do you get a Bush victory of 1,665 when the Herald does its calculations in the text of the book, and yet the numbers in their own Appendix clearly show a Gore victory of 210 votes? Thats a discrepancy of 1,875 votes. To understand how this happened, go back to page 171, and you see that the Herald did not include in their calculations (though they ARE included in their Appendix) seven counties (Palm Beach, Broward, Volusia, Hamilton, Manatee, Escambia, and Madison) plus part of another county (Miami-Dade)*. Still, there would have been no discrepancy had the Heralds count of the votes in those counties (as depicted in their Appendix) matched the counts that they actually used for these counties in their calculations. But they didnt match at all. Hamilton, Madison, and Manatee were very close, but the Herald counted 16 more net votes in Escambia County for Gore, 907 more net votes in Palm Beach County for Gore, and 908 more net votes in Broward County for Gore than what they used in their calculations that gave Bush the victory. That accounts for a 1,831 vote discrepancy in favor of Bush, of the 1,875 vote discrepancy between the Heralds calculations and their Appendix that I noted above. The remainder of the discrepancy must have come from Volusia and Miami-Dade Counties, for which the precise figures that they used in their calculations are not presented in the book. But the important thing to note is that Gore has a 210 lead when all of the under-votes are counted.

So why was there almost a two thousand vote discrepancy between the Miami Heralds re-count of the under-votes and those under-votes that had already been counted (most of the discrepancy being from Palm Beach and Broward Counties)? For one thing, Palm Beach County, under the leadership of Theresa LePore (the creator of the butterfly ballot), had used a ridiculously stringent standard for their re-count. Broward County is more difficult to explain, but it should be remembered that they were in a great hurry to re-count the votes, and they were under tremendous pressure from the Bush machine in Florida and from the corporate media.

In other words, one can demonstrate a Bush victory in Florida only if one uses a very stringent standard for counting the under-votes in the two most heavily Democratic counties in the state (Broward and Palm Beach) but uses the more reasonable standard mandated by the Florida Supreme Court (which was to ascertain the intention of the voter) to count the under-votes in most of the rest of the state. Thats how the Miami Herald came up with a Bush victory. Their own re-count of the state-wide under-vote clearly showed a Gore victory. But they didnt say that.

* The Herald did not use the results of their count from Broward or Volusia Counties because those counties had already performed a full recount, which had been officially certified. They did not use their results from Palm Beach and part of Miami-Dade Counties because the Florida Supreme Court had instructed that votes from those counties from previous re-counting were to be added to the total without re-counting them again and the Herald used those counts their final calculations. And, the Herald did not use their results from Escambia, Madison, Manatee, and Hamilton Counties because those counties had reported completion of their counting before the U.S. Supreme Court stopped the state wide recount and the Herald accepted those reported counts for their calculations.


The Florida over-vote

Over-votes are those ballots that were discounted by the machines because they registered a vote for two or more presidential candidates. The Miami Herald did not count or did not include the count of over-votes in the calculations that led to their conclusions. Why not? Because the Florida Supreme Court had not required a count of over-votes in their ruling? Why not? Because the Gore team had not requested a re-count of the over-votes. Why not? Obviously because the Gore team had not believed that it would be possible to determine the intent of the voter in many cases by examining over-votes.

But they were deadly wrong on that account. The use of the butterfly ballot in Palm Beach County had caused tremendous confusion to voters, tens of thousands of whom could not ascertain where to punch their ballot in order to register a vote for Gore. Consequently, many of them accidentally voted for Patrick Buchanan, and many of them voted for more than one choice, just to make sure that they registered a vote for Gore. Those ballots were discounted by the machines as over-votes. But what the Gore team did not know at the time that they requested the re-count was that in tens of thousands of cases the intent of the voter was obvious from an observation of the ballot, by virtue of the fact that the voter had written in their preference on the ballot just to make sure that their vote counted.

To make a long story short, a later recount of the over-votes clearly indicated about 46,000 additional votes for Gore and about 17,000 additional votes for Bush for a net Gore margin of about 29,000 votes when all the over-votes are counted. This margin of course would have totally obliterated the slim Bush lead of 537 votes that Katherine Harris had certified. But the Gore team, having devoted all their time and energy to fighting off attempts by the Bush machine to totally shut down all re-counting efforts, did not think of requesting a re-count of the over-votes.


The voter registration purge

In an effort to suppress the Democratic vote, Governor Jeb Bush had worked with a contractor (ChoicePoint) to develop a system that would purge from the voter list, not only ex-felons (who by Florida law were not allowed to vote), but also close computer matches of ex-felons. As most of the close computer matches would be black (because of similar names), and therefore likely to be Democratic voters, this cunning plan was meant to target black voters. And in fact, the plan worked, as it disenfranchised about 11,883 legal voters. So this cynical plan alone cost Gore the election.

As a side note, this matter was investigated and confirmed, and Jeb Bush had his hand slapped for this massive election fraud which had installed his brother as president, escaping more severe penalties on the condition that he promise never to do it again. He tried it again in 2004, and this time the plan was discovered ahead of time, so he had to withdraw it. Maybe he even had his hand slapped again.


Other fraud

There was also fraud involving absentee ballots. The Bush machine pressured the Gore team to allow the counting of 680 overseas military ballots which did not meet legal requirements, such as having been sent in an envelop that was postmarked on or before Election Day. In retrospect it turned out that many or most of these were sent after Election Day, and may have been entirely fraudulent but they were allowed to stand. And there were other frauds involving absentee ballots as well.

Also, there were numerous reports of voter suppression of minority voters, documented in this report of the Civil Rights Commission, which was virtually ignored by the corporate media.


Summary

Any way you look at it, Al Gore won the 2000 national popular vote (by about half a million), the Florida vote (by 30 thousand at the very least), and the electoral vote (by 45), despite the officially certified Bush victory of 537 votes in Florida. When the under-vote re-count (the one stopped by the five justices of the U.S. Supreme Court) was completed by the Miami Herald at a later date, that re-count showed a Gore victory of 210 votes. But that slim Gore victory is very misleading. When one considers the fact that illegal voter purging cost him thousands of additional votes, and failure to count over-votes where voters actually wrote in his name cost him almost 30 thousand votes, the only reasonable conclusion is that the Florida election in reality wasnt all that close after all.







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