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How the Miami Herald Helped Legitimize the Florida 2000 Selection of George W. Bush as President

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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jun-27-12 08:46 PM
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How the Miami Herald Helped Legitimize the Florida 2000 Selection of George W. Bush as President
I'm currently working with a publisher, Biting Duck Press, to publish a book (title as yet undetermined) on the corruption in our election system. We intend to have it published prior to the November election, and hope that it will help to make Americans more vigilant and concerned about the way our elections are run. Ive drafted most of the book. I am currently intending to post large portions of it on DU, in the hope of stimulating discussion and obtaining useful feedback.

My first post on this topic dealt with Election Day 2000, and included explanations for the national networks two wrong calls that day and the automatic machine recount all of which helped to explain how screwed up this election was. My second post dealt with the 36 day Florida recount, ending with the SCOTUS decision to stop the counting and award the presidency to Bush. In this post, the third and last portion of Chapter 1 of my developing book, I discuss how the Miami Herald helped to legitimize Bushs victory by conducting their own recount of Floridas undervotes in a manner that was highly biased towards making Bush appear to be the legitimate winner of the election. Included in this discussion is the illegal voter purge conducted by Floridas Jeb Bush administration, which was probably more decisive in George W. Bushs victory than any other single factor.

Spinning the 2000 election to make it look like Bush would have won anyhow

In a purported effort to find out who would have won the election had the Supreme Court not stopped the vote counting, the Miami Herald undertook an investigation. Following their re-count of the Florida 2000 Presidential undervotes in 2001, they 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 owned news 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 to understand why the public statements made by the Miami Herald about the re-count of the 2004 Florida election were misleading.

Here is the most important of the statements 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 undervotes ordered by the Florida Supreme Court.

The Heralds conclusion was based on their counting of the undervotes 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 looking for 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 represented a Bush lead in machine counted votes of 1,202 minus a 665 Gore lead among the undervotes recounted in Broward and Volusia Counties, which were the only two counties whose recounted undervotes were accepted into the official vote count by Secretary Harris. So, in order to come to the conclusion that Gore won the election, he would have to have enough of an advantage among the undervotes to overcome that 1,202 vote Bush lead among the votes that had been registered excluding the counting of any undervotes. The Herald goes on to add up the numbers, based on their analysis and counting, and they come up with a total which shows a Bush victory by 1,665 votes. Thats their final and most publicized conclusion. That conclusion rests on their specifying a total net undervote count in the state of 463 in favor of Bush (which added to the pre-undervote count of 1,202 gives 1,665).

But wait. Look at the Appendix at the back of the book, and add up the totals. Gore has 995 more undervotes 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 undervotes. That overcomes the 1,202 lead that Bush had prior to the counting of any undervotes: Counting of all the undervotes results in a win for Gore of 1,314 votes minus 1,202 votes = 112 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 112 votes? Thats a discrepancy of 1,777 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. Most important, the Herald counted 907 more net votes in Palm Beach County for Gore, and they counted 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 1,815 vote discrepancy in favor of Bush, of the 1,777 vote discrepancy in favor of Bush between the Heralds calculations and their Appendix that I noted above. The remainder of the discrepancy came from Volusia Miami-Dade, Escambia, Hamilton, Madison, and Manatee Counties. Those discrepancies were all much smaller than the discrepancies in Broward and Palm Beach Counties, which voted heavily Democratic. But the important thing to note is that Gore has a 112 votes lead when all of the undervotes are counted by the Herald.

So why was there almost a two thousand vote discrepancy between the Miami Heralds re-count of the undervotes and those undervotes 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 undervotes 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 undervotes 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 undervote clearly showed a Gore victory. But they didnt emphasize that. However, they do discuss it on pages 168-9 as if it isnt of primary importance:

In a finding certain to interest Gore supporters, the review also discovered that many hundreds of ballots were discarded in predominantly Democratic Broward and Palm Beach Counties even though those ballots contained marks identical to marks on ballots that were officially tallied. That was the result of several factors At any rate, the bottom line of that analysis is this: If not for the inconsistencies in Broward and Palm Beach Counties, Gore might have netted enough new votes to have swung the election and long before the Florida Supreme Court and U.S. Supreme Court Acted.

I will now try to put this whole confusing mess in simple language, since it is so important. The Miami Herald conducted an analysis of the undervotes in all Florida counties in order to ascertain who really won the election. But they did not use all the vote totals that they came up with in their analysis. Instead, most importantly in heavily Democratic Palm Beach and Broward Counties, they used pre-existing vote counts produced by county election officials. Those vote counts were much less favorable to Gore than what the Miami Herald obtained using standards identical to what they used for the rest of the state. In other words, the constant Republican pressure exerted during the recounts in Palm Beach and Broward Counties apparently paid off. That pressure was exerted in the form of demands to compromise on the standard for counting the votes. Whereas the Florida Supreme Court decision of December 8 required that votes be allocated on the basis of voter intent, during the county hand recounts, Republicans successfully pressured those responsible for the recounts to adopt a much stricter standard.

* 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 in 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.

Voter purging in preparation for the 2000 Presidential election in Florida

An illegal voter purge appears to be the most important factor in Bushs victory. If not for that purge, Gores margin of victory would have been great enough that no recounts would have been required, so the U.S. Supreme Court would not have been enabled to steal the election. Yet the Miami Herald barely mentions this in their report and attach almost not importance to it. They state:

Some claim that many legitimate voters of all ethnic and racial groups, but particularly blacks were illegally swept from the rolls through the states efforts to ban felons from voting. There is no widespread evidence of that.

Note that they dont say that they did any investigation of this matter. They simply state that there is no widespread evidence of it.

As initially reported by Greg Palast, in preparation for the 2000 election the state of Florida conducted a massive voter purge of presumed ex-felons, who were not allowed to vote by Florida law. This resulted in the purging of approximately 58,000 Florida voters. The problem was that a very loose computer match to a known felon was required to perform the purge. Consequently, an investigation by found that approximately 15% of the purged voters were purged incorrectly. This was by design, as the state of Florida requested very loose matching criteria. Partly because race was often used as a match criterion, according to one analysis 88% of purged voters were black, even though blacks accounted for only 11% of Florida voters. Given the 15% error rate for the computer matches, as well as information that 2,883 of the purged voters were found to be from states that restore voting rights when their sentence is served therefore, Florida had no legal right to purge them it was estimated that almost 12,000 voters were purged incorrectly. Given that a very high percentage of them were black and that blacks voted for Gore by an overwhelming margin (more than 90%), it is obvious that the illegal voter purge alone cost Gore several thousand net votes. This is a very conservative analysis of how many votes Al Gore lost from illegal voter purging in this election. Later analysis, based on admissions by the database company that conducted the purging, revealed the net loss to Gore to be tens of thousands of votes (See Chapter 6).

Conclusions on the 2000 Presidential election

So who really won the 2000 election? Al Gore won the national popular vote by about half a million votes, but he lost in the Electoral College when he lost Florida by an official margin of 537 votes. The U.S. Supreme Court awarded the election to Bush in a 5-4 decision that stopped the recount, in one of the most blatantly political and legally unsupported decisions in U.S. Supreme Court history. The Miami Herald investigation determined that even if the recount had been allowed to continue Bush still would have won the election. But that statement accurately applies only in a very narrow sense. It disregards all of the following:

The undervote
The stated purpose of the Herald investigation was to analyze and count only the previously uncounted undervotes. That analysis showed a Bush victory. However, although the Herald investigation analyzed and counted the two most Democratic counties in Florida (Palm Beach and Broward) they did not use those counts to form their final conclusions regarding the Bush victory. Instead they used the count produced by county election officials, which the Herald acknowledged produced a vote count that favored Bush by almost two thousand votes compared to the Heralds own analysis. Nobody knows the precise reason for that huge discrepancy. It can only be assumed that intense Republican pressure during the recount intimidated election officials from counting many valid votes.

The over-vote
The Heralds investigation did not count the over-votes at all in arriving at their vote totals , despite the fact that a good amount of evidence suggests that Gore probably lost thousands of net votes to ballots with double votes on them. One reason for not analyzing over-votes is that in individual cases it can be almost impossible to determine the intent of the voter. However, at least one category of over-votes could easily have been examined to determine the intent of the voter those with the candidates name written on the ballot. Had that been done, Gore would have netted an additional 873 votes far more than enough to overcome his official deficit of 537 votes.

Voter purging
The illegal purging of predominantly black voters from the voter rolls resulted in a net loss of several thousand votes for Gore. This was not considered at all in the Heralds calculations.

Electronic vote switching
Then there is the possibility of electronic vote switching. We know that Volusia County alone deleted more than 16 thousand votes from Gore through an electronic glitch. That deletion resulted in the premature calling of the election for Bush, until the glitch was caught and reversed. Nobody (except those most intimately involved) knows if that glitch was an accident or whether it was the result of an attempt to steal the election. Nor does anyone know if other smaller glitches occurred in Florida on Election Day, which were not caught and reversed.

Other issues
This chapter deals only with some of the most important and obvious means by which the will of Florida voters was subverted on Election Day 2000. There were several others, not discussed her, such as 680 illegal overseas ballots that the Bush team managed to get into the official vote count.

I will discuss just one other means by which Gore undoubtedly lost numerous net votes unobservable undervotes. We all know that poor, black, and Democratic areas used much older punch card voting machines than wealthier and Republican areas. This was true not only in Florida in 2000, but in most past elections in counties throughout the country. The failure to completely punch holes in ballots resulted in a disproportionately large number of undervotes for Gore. Many of these votes were reclaimed during the recount process. However, in cases where hole punching was a complete failure, there would have been no opportunity to assess the will of the voter from looking at the ballot. That means that the wealthy have a big advantage over the poor with regard to their opportunity to vote. This will remain true until something is done about it.
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No Elephants Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jun-28-12 12:19 AM
Response to Original message
1. IMO, the docility of Americans is the result of centuries of believing that
they are responsible for their governments (meaning both state and federal and the long succession of governments since Washington was first elected--maybe even before, inasmuch as we had a number of presidents under the Articles of Confederation.)

Americans believed for so long that we actually do now have, and always have had, government of the people, by the people and for the people.

I know of no other reason, except perhaps the geography/topography of our nation, that there has not been the same kind of rioting in the streets that we've seem from time to time in places like Greece and France.

Some of us go to the polls every four years, maybe even every two years, and seem to feel that we have done everything we can possibly do to make sure "our" "guys" will look out for the 99%. And then we go to sleep until it's time to stand on line to vote again.

And lately, it seems we are being encouraged into cults of personality and to viewing politics like we view baseball games involving our home team. We've stopped insisting that "our" "guys" do right by us and by the country. Instead, we seem to have become damned fan clubs instead of political parties, like 12 year olds admiring every move made by Justin Bieber and forgiving him anything and everything.

We beam with pride when we are told that the American worker is the most productive worker in the world, instead of looking into to why the hell that is true. And so on.

If more people were aware--and believed--how badly both primaries and general elections are rigged, there might be blood in the streets. Then again, maybe not.

Maybe that would have happened only 50 to 100 years ago. Maybe now, we are boiled frogs, too used to every bad thing in politics from all political parties, major and minor. And the propaganda arms of the incumbents, which consistent both of government propaganda arms--using our own money to dupe us--and the establishment media.

Anyhoo.....Another excellent installment. Thanks
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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jun-28-12 06:40 AM
Response to Reply #1
2. I pretty much agree with everything you say here
I think that the root cause of our complacency is that we've been saturated for so long with the thought that our country is so "GREAT" that we don't have to worry about making anything better. I guess there are many reasons for that, and not least among them is the constant propaganda we are bombarded with by our corporate owned media.

Yet I believe there is hope, and I don't think that it will necessarily take blood in the streets to change our country for the better. Peaceful revolutions have occurred elsewhere, and they can occur here.
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No Elephants Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jun-28-12 11:21 AM
Response to Reply #2
3. Yes, we were saturated.
I have been told that the reason that our captured troops were so susceptibe to thorough brainwashing during the Korean War was that they had never been told the full truth about things like slavery, Original Americans and other things in American history that were less than admirable (to understate vastly).

I have no idea if that is true or not, but it is what I was told and it seems plausible.

However, I think that we have been willing to believe all that because we also believe(d?) that the nation was actually a democracy.

Of course, I cannot prove that. It could also be that we are just a docile nation and obedient nation.

I was hopeful in 2008. Since then, I have experienced a lot, read a lot and noticed a lot. I don't know how hopeful I am now that there will ever be a revolution, peaceful or not.
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