Everything you need to know about the Florida recount

By Anthony York and Eric Boehlert

By Letters to the Editor

Published November 14, 2000 8:25PM (EST)

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Hand recounting of only Democratic counties in Florida causes "selection bias." A hand recount will primarily affect ballots where the hole has been partially punched. If a manual recount is done in a county that voted heavily Democratic, one would expect the partially punched ballots that are picked up in the manual recount in that county to also be primarily Democratic.

Bill Daley has requested manual recounts in four counties in Florida, all of them heavily Democratic. Unless the manual recount is done statewide, then it is a statistical certainty that this maneuver will come up with a biased selection of additional Democratic votes, and will unfairly throw the Florida election to Al Gore.

-- John Daugirdas

One thing that is being missed in the coverage of the Palm Beach recount is that Florida law requires that there be a manual count of computer- or machine-read ballots that are defective. The relevant portion of Fla. Stat. _ 101.5614 reads:

"If any paper ballot is damaged or defective so that it cannot be counted properly by the automatic tabulating equipment, the ballot shall be counted manually at the counting center by the canvassing board. The totals for all such ballots or ballot cards counted manually shall be added to the totals for the several precincts or election districts. No vote shall be declared invalid or void if there is a clear indication of the intent of the voter as determined by the canvassing board."

This language and other language make it clear that the Palm Beach election officials actually have an obligation to manually read any ballot that the machine cannot read because of a hanging chad. These ballots are not being recounted, they are being counted properly for the first time.

-- Kevin Hill

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