Tags: Florida | Supreme | Court | Considers | 'Dimpled' | Ballots

Florida Supreme Court Considers 'Dimpled' Ballots

Monday, 20 November 2000 12:00 AM

If the court orders Florida counties to count those ballots, it could mean hundreds of additional votes for Democrat Vice President Gore, who lags behind Bush by fewer than a thousand votes.

Attorneys for Republican Texas Gov. Bush told the court Monday that counting the ballots now would constitute changing the rules of the election. Gore attorneys claimed that a ballot with a dimple showed voter "intent" and should be counted.

"It is quite important that this court be as specific as possible as to the standard [for counting ballots by hand] as possible so that we have some uniformity," Gore attorney David Boies told the court Monday.

Bush attorney Michael Carvin said judging dimpled ballots was a "standardless and subjective inquiry" that could "impart partisanship" into the counting. "I would urge the court that to count [those ballots] after the election had been held would change the rules."

In the hand count in Florida, counters decide the fate of a ballot. Either party can appeal a decision by a team of counters. Those ballots go before a three-member canvassing commission. The commission then makes a decision on those ballots, but the two parties could challenge that decision, and the commission could overrule any complaints.

Boards in Palm Beach and nearby Broward County have placed those challenged ballots aside, waiting for direction from the Florida Supreme Court on how to proceed. In just a partial hand recount in Palm Beach County alone, 349 votes so far could go to one candidate or another depending on direction from the court.

All of the 349 ballots challenged by either party have a dimple in the column of one candidate or another, but the "chad" in the ballot is still in place.

In Palm Beach County alone, Gore supporters claimed that 276 of those dimpled ballots could go to Gore while 73 could go to Bush. The 349 ballots represent only 297 out of 531 precincts. The number could rise significantly by the time the counting is over.

Bill Buck, the state Democrat communications director, said those ballots contained an indentation where the voter "tried" to punch out a chad but did not dislodge the chad.

Bush campaign officials in West Palm Beach said Gore was simply turning to those votes as a "reserve fund" because he still lacked the votes to win.

The judges on the Supreme Court showed similar uncertainty.

"The person punched the hole but for whatever reason the chad did not fall out. What should we do with those ballots?" Justice Peggy Quince asked Carvin.

The Bush team said they shouldn't count. But the Gore team claimed that a dimple was a vote.

Copyright 2000 by United Press International.

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If the court orders Florida counties to count those ballots, it could mean hundreds of additional votes for Democrat Vice President Gore, who lags behind Bush by fewer than a thousand votes. Attorneys for Republican Texas Gov. Bush told the court Monday that counting the...
Florida,Supreme,Court,Considers,'Dimpled',Ballots
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2000-00-20
Monday, 20 November 2000 12:00 AM
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