Tags: Palm | Beach | County | Waits

Palm Beach County Waits

Wednesday, 15 November 2000 12:00 AM

The recount began briefly as scheduled at 7a.m. Wednesday, but the County Canvass Board quickly suspended the count until a ruling in a case brought by the Florida State Democratic Party. The case, which sought to challenge the rules the board set about the ballots it would count as votes, turns on the status of so-called "dimpled" or "pregnant" ballots.

A ballot is considered dimpled or pregnant if the small box a voter should punch out to select a candidate is not detached from the ballot card. Such ballots are typically recorded by machine counts as "under votes," with no vote recorded for any candidate.

Hand counting, said local canvassers, allows the voter's intentions to be divined because inspectors can see that the ballot has an indentation showing that the voter would have cast a vote for a specific candidate but for some reason the ballot did not accept the punch.

However, others argue that the more the ballots are handled, the more likely the partially severed or dimpled ballots are to fall off. Already, Palm Beach has recounted its ballots three times, once at the request of Republican presidential candidate George W. Bush.

The Florida Democratic Party sued the Palm Beach County Canvassing Board in hopes of having the board consider dimpled ballots that were not counted in previous machine or manual counts. The party believes it would pick up votes if the ballots were considered because Palm Beach County is predominately Democratic.

On Saturday, the canvassing board conducted a manual recount of 1 percent of the precinct's ballots before Republican and Democratic observers. At that time, the board decided ballots would only be counted if light showed through the chad, the rectangle box that should be punched out to select a candidate. But the board only applied that "sunshine" standard to half of those ballots. It changed course midway through the count and decided to also consider partially severed chad as votes. The change resulted in 33 additional votes for Gore and 14 for Bush, according to the Democratic Party's lawsuit.

"Based on the plaintiff's observer's objections at the test manual recount, Vice President Gore would receive several hundred additional votes at the test recount alone if the board, totality-of-the-evidence standard were applied. Thus even without the full manual recount of the remaining 527 precincts in Palm Beach County, this difference would be close to the number necessary to change the election result," according to the lawsuit.

Palm Beach County was preparing a written letter to Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris to explain why it decided to proceed with a countywide manual recount. Harris had previously decided that tabulations submitted after 5 p.m. Tuesday would not be accepted, although two circuit court judges ruled that the counties had a legal right to proceed with manual recounts and could submit tallies later. Both judges, however, gave Harris the discretion to accept or deny those additional votes.

Copyright 2000 by United Press International.

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The recount began briefly as scheduled at 7a.m. Wednesday, but the County Canvass Board quickly suspended the count until a ruling in a case brought by the Florida State Democratic Party. The case, which sought to challenge the rules the board set about the ballots it would...
Palm,Beach,County,Waits
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2000-00-15
Wednesday, 15 November 2000 12:00 AM
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