The Florida Overvote: Tragic Mistake, or Katharine Harris with Tweezers?
Sharman Braff firstname.lastname@example.org
"You say overvote, I say Katharine Harris with tweezers"
(from a website I could not find again or I'd give credit)
Gentle reader, why should you slog through this overlong article if you read the previous version? Because there's lots of new evidence, and I'm a little smarter, thanks largely to the input of readers responding to the first version. Most significantly, Washington Post reporter Dan Keating furnished me detailed data, previously unpublished, from the Post's study of 57,000 of the overvotes. These data confirm my suspicions in several respects. Some teasers:
I now know how the 5800 Bush/Gore overvotes (what voter makes that odd mistake?) fit into the tampering scheme. These suspicious ballots alone prove the fraud. There may be physical evidence of tampering, and we have some insights into how the tampering was accomplished. Please read - and pass it on!
It is a crime that the Republican Party stopped the counting of Florida's 60,000 undervotes. But perhaps the real crime is in the overvote.
There were 120,000 overvotes in Florida, ballots rejected because more than one choice was marked for president. Overwhelmingly, the spoiled ballots were Gore votes. It was the overvote, much more than the dangling and dimpled chads of undervote, that cost America the president we really elected.
Did tens of thousands of voters screw up their ballots by mistake, or was the second hole punched by someone other than the voter?
NOW ITS OFFICIAL: GORE WON BY 50,000. BUT FOR THE OVERVOTE, THAT IS
Seven counties, Duval (22,000), Palm Beach (19,100), Miami-Dade (18,000), Broward (8,000), Hillsborough (5,000), Pinellas (4,000) and Pasco (2,000), account for 78,000 of the overvotes. We'll call them the suspicious counties. 
The Washington Post was able to study computer records from all the suspicious counties except Duval.  The Post determined that 46,000 Gore and 17,000 Bush votes were spoiled by double- punches; these totals include 5,800 ballots punched for both Bush and Gore. If the 5,800 Bush/Gore overvotes are all Gore votes (believe me, they are. see further below), that's 46,000 spoiled Gore votes to 11,000 of Bush's.
The ratio of spoiled ballots thus ran more than 4:1 to Gore's detriment. If Duval's 22,000 overvotes followed approximately the same ratio (say, 18,000/4,000), that's 64,000 spoiled Gore votes to 15,000 for Bush.
Gore would have won by 50,000. If not for those spoiled ballots.
THE OVERVOTE NUMBERS ARE OFF THE CHARTS
As the public now knows, many votes go uncounted in every election. But most rejected ballots are undervotes. Overvote is relatively rare, and it is particularly rare with punchcard ballots. All seven of the suspicious counties use punchcard ballots.
One expert put the normal rate for punchcard overvote at 0.1% of total ballots cast, while another expressed the rate as 2% of total rejected ballots. By either measure, one would expect only a few thousand such ballots out of Florida's 6,000,000 total. In the words of the two experts, Florida's punchcard overvote was "phenomenal," "outrageous." 
The Republican Party has spun a number of arguments to downplay the overvote statistics. A common ploy was to recite statistics for total rejected ballots (combined over and undervote), for example, comparing Palm Beach's 14,000 rejected ballots in 1996 with its 19,100 overvotes in 2000. (Palm Beach had only 3,000 overvotes in 1996.)  My personal favorite was the GOP chairman who cited the overvote in Duval, a Republican county, as proof that there was nothing suspicious about the overvote in Democratic Palm Beach.  (Duval is in fact Republican by majority. But it has a large black population in urban Jacksonville, which is-surprise-where the overvote came from.)
But no one really disputes that the overvote in Duval and Palm Beach was extraordinary. That has been the subject of many a news report. And no one disputes that the rejected ballots came disproportionately from Democratic precincts. (Gore votes, as now confirmed by the Washington Post.) In some black precincts, the spoilage rate ran as high as 30%. 
But it's not just Duval and Palm Beach. There were 18,000 overvotes in Miami-Dade, and 19,000 from Broward, Hillsborough, Pinellas and Pasco combined. Again, mostly Democratic precincts, mostly Gore votes. 78,000 total, 50,000 net lost.
5,800 BUSH/GORE OVERVOTES THAT'S PROOF RIGHT THERE
There were 5,800 Bush/Gore overvotes in the Washington Post study. The Post did not have data for Duval's 22,000 overvotes, so there may be more. 5,800 voters who do not know the difference between Bush and Gore? More likely, 5,800 Gore votes lost when, for speed, ballots were stacked and mass-punched for Bush. A handy tactic, to quickly ruin your opponent's votes without endangering your own. 
There is no explanation for Bush/Gore overvotes but tampering. In optiscan counties, where such mass-tampering is impossible, there are no Bush/Gore overvotes. And not because optiscan voters are smarter, or aren't prone to overvote. There were 25,000 overvotes in optiscan counties, including 15 counties dubbed "most error prone" by the Miami-Herald. 
Furthermore, the Bush/Gore overvotes are found more often in Republican precincts than Democratic.  If voter error were really the cause, wouldn't we find most of these ballots in the error- prone (Democratic) precincts, the precincts with the most overvotes? Or was "Bush/Gore" a mistake peculiar to the otherwise much smarter Republicans?
The more likely explanation: In the heavily Democratic precincts, which voted 80 - 90% for Gore, you could mass-tamper without fear of hitting many Bush votes. The Bush/Gore ploy was reserved for Republican and split-vote precincts. See the Addendum for further evidence that the ballots were ruined by mass-punching.
VOTER CONFUSION MY ASS
Confusing ballot designs, coupled with inexperienced and uneducated first-time voters, is the official explanation for Florida's extraordinary overvote. The get-out-the-vote effort (raising Afro- American turnout from 10% of the State's votes in 1996 to 15% in 2000) was impressive, but tragically undermined by voter error. 1) Can that many voters be that dumb? Miami-Dade, Broward, Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco (37,000)
The public has been fed cover stories about the overvote in Duval (broken ballot error) and Palm Beach (butterfly ballot confusion). But that still leaves 37,000 overvotes in Miami-Dade, Broward, Hillsborough, Pinellas and Pasco. There were no reports of misleading ballots or voter confusion there. 
The overvotes in these 5 counties give no clue as to how 37,000 voters could be so badly misled. Indeed, there is no discernable pattern at all. A breakdown (furnished to the author by Washington Post reporter Dan Keating) listed the following fifteen most common overvote combinations in these counties:
Gore/Browne 5420 Gore/Harris 1017 Bush/Nader 613 Bush/Gore 5157 Gore/Buchanan 1015 Gore/Hagelin 611 Gore/Nader 1700 Bush/Brown 782 Punch all 560 Gore/Moorehead 1278 Bush/Moorehead 722 Every other candidate 525 All but Bush 1271 Gore/Phillips 619 Bush/Buchanan 508
Can you discern any pattern? Any theme that shows where these voters went wrong?
Nor is it likely that thousands of voters just punched at their ballots randomly, either in protest or ignorance. "Random" does not explain it, when virtually every ballot includes a punch for either Gore or Bush, and Gore is punched four times more often than Bush.
2) Can that many voters be that dumb? Palm Beach (19,100)
The infamous butterfly ballot was confusing, causing 3,400 Jewish seniors to mistake the Buchanan hole for Gore's. That's true. But it has yet to be explained to me how picking the wrong hole causes a voter to punch twice. If you knew you'd just punched the wrong hole, you would know you could not correct the mistake by punching a second time.
Another butterfly ballot theory has it that voters thought they were to vote for both president and vice-president, because two holes lined up inside the Gore-Lieberman box. I have read of one voter admitting to this error, and perhaps some did make that mistake. But 19,100?
In fact, the Post study disproves both theories. There were only 5,282 Gore/Buchanan ballots, the combination you would expect from Buchanan confusion or the president/vice-president error. And there were only 2,868 Gore/McReynolds, the only other combination that might be explained by the president/vice-president error. (Again, these are unpublished data furnished to the author by Post reporter Dan Keating.) That leaves 11,000 overvotes not accounted for. Like the other Post study counties, most of Palm Beach's overvotes are random combinations, not explained by the butterfly ballot.
Most certainly, the butterfly ballot does not explain Palm Beach's 343 Bush/Gore overvotes.
3) Can that many voters be that dumb? Duval (22,000)
The presidential race in this county's ballot ran onto two pages, and a sample ballot printed in the newspaper instructed voters to "vote every page." Get-out-the-Vote volunteers with the Democratic Party, working with poorly educated, first-time voters, repeated the bad advice. Faithfully following directions, voters punched for president on both the first and second pages, voiding their votes.
Did this really happen? Of all the evidence for an innocent explanation of the overvote, this is the most convincing to me. Not because it sounds plausible, but because Democratic Party and elected officials, and groups such as the NAACP, have publicly repeated the story.  Presumably they were able to verify it by interviewing voters. But 22,000? How many GOTV volunteers did it take to screw up that many voters?
Or perhaps some Democratic leaders were intimidated into supporting the "dumb voter" line. I wouldn't blame them; they should be scared. The bad guys have both houses of Congress, the Executive Branch, and I guess we know where the Judiciary stands. The Republicans have shown themselves to be without scruple, vicious. Is Jesse Jackson supposed to take them on alone? If you shoot at the king, don't miss.
Duval generally stinks. Republican by majority, with Republican elections officials, it also has large concentrations of Democratic votes in the black precincts of Jacksonville: The perfect setup. Duval was among the most egregious in stories of voters turned away from the polls, intimidated, etc. Most suspicious of all, this county has waged a determined, and thus far successful, campaign to keep its ballots from inspection. See "Coverup--Physical evidence?" below. .
4) No, voters are not that dumb. Look at the optiscan overvote.
As previously noted, mass-tampering is impossible with optiscan ballots. Also, optiscan counties tend to be smaller, and vote majority Republican. In short, they are not likely targets for Republican tamperers.
There were about 25,000 overvotes in Florida's optiscan counties. (Overvote is not uncommon with optiscan, for reasons that will become clear below, though it is rare with punchcards.) These are innocent overvotes, and they give us some insight into true voter error. The optiscan lesson is: voters do make mistakes, but not irrational mistakes, in overwhelming numbers, costing one candidate much more heavily than the other. 
Some of the optiscan overvote was caused by smudges and erasures; in some instances, voters wrote notes on the ballot to indicate they were correcting a mistake. Another common error occurred when voters voted for their chosen candidate, and also wrote the name on the write-in line. Note, in none of these overvote patterns does the voter deliberately vote for two different candidates, as we see in the punchcard overvote. Note also, these errors are either impossible or unlikely with punchcard ballots, and indeed, were not found (in any numbers I've seen reported) in the punchcard overvote.
In counties where the list of presidential candidates ran onto two pages, some optiscan voters voted on both pages, apparently believing the second list was a separate race. A variation of this so- called "broken ballot" error is what's supposed to have occurred in Duval. But apart from Duval, "broken ballot" does not account for the overvotes we see in the punchcard counties. Palm Beach had the butterfly ballot, and I am pretty sure Miami-Dade had a single-page ballot. (I do not know about the others.) In any event, we know from the Post data that broken ballot does not explain the punchcard overvote.
Finally, while the optiscan overvote cost Gore more heavily than Bush, it was not by a factor of four.
In short, optiscan counties experienced neither irrational overvote patterns like we see in the punchcard counties, nor astronomical numbers of Gore overvotes. Further, the mistakes found on optiscan ballots do not explain what we're seeing in the punchcard overvote.
And it bears repeating, no optiscan voter voted for both Bush and Gore.
5) The overvote was not confined to under-privileged, first-time- at-the-polls black voters. In the 120 Jewish seniors precincts of Palm Beach, one out of every 13 ballots was double-punched. 
Two Florida populations: (1) Afro-Americans, underprivileged, less well-educated, first time voting. (2) Jewish seniors, well-off, well-educated, been voting for decades. What two things do they have in common?
1) Their ballots were invalidated for double-punching at far greater rates than any other group in Florida and
2) (Pick one):
(a) They're too dumb to vote. (b) They vote heavily Democratic.
In the Lakes of Delray precinct (85% elderly), 1500 votes went to Gore, about 50 to Bush, 47 to Buchanan, and 253 were double-punched. It's Delray Beach, Boca Raton, as well as the black precincts of Jacksonville, Miami, etc., that you go to if you're looking for Gore votes to spoil.
6) If 78,000 voters screwed up their ballots, costing the most scrutinized election of our lifetimes, why haven't we heard from them?
Tampering first occurred to me just three days after the election, when all we knew about was the 19,100 overvotes in Palm Beach. While considerable evidence has come in since then, the days immediately following the election furnish what remains, to me, a particularly compelling piece of evidence.
The butterfly ballot caused 3,400 Jewish seniors to vote for Buchanan by mistake. This set off a small tempest that, with the as-yet- undecided race on the line, quickly drew the nation's attention. Palm Beach was swamped with reporters, as well as black and Jewish leaders. The 19,000 overvotes were also brought to light, becoming instant front-page news.
Voters were asked to search their memories. We heard from many hundreds of voters who realized that they had voted for Buchanan in error. But even though there were far more overvotes than Buchanan mistakes, I have heard of only "a few thousand" seniors who "weren't sure," but might have punched their ballots twice. 
To be sure, there is also Duval, where Democratic leaders have confirmed the voter confusion story. But the evidence of Palm Beach is more convincing to me, perhaps because I saw it with my own eyes, on TV, right after the election. There were dozens of Jewish seniors recounting how they had voted for Buchanan by mistake. But despite all the attention from the media, from the many black and Jewish leaders on the scene, I saw not a single face--black or elderly-come forward with personal testimony of overvoting.
7) How unlucky can one guy be?
An utterly unprecedented number of voters made utterly inexplicable errors, costing Gore 50,000 votes, which just happened to be the margin of victory, in the one state that was key to the whole election.
Is that guy unlucky or what?
SURELY IT'S PHYSICALLY IMPOSSIBLE TO RUIN THAT MANY BALLOTS IN ONE NIGHT
Point well taken. There were hundreds of precincts affected by the overvote, and punching 78,000 ballots is a huge task to accomplish in a very short time. Plus, these were Democratic-voting counties, presumably under the control of Democratic officials.
So how did they do it? The answer is,
HELL, I DON'T KNOW. I'm not a detective. But me not knowing how to tamper with ballots is not proof that it is impossible. I do not know how to burgle houses or rob banks either. But I can offer a few thoughts.
1) There was plenty of time. Nine hours elapsed between the polls closing at 7 pm and the final tally around 4:00 am. As of 2:00 am election eve, 280,000 ballots still remained uncounted. 
Apparently, the very last ballots tallied were thousands of Democratic votes from Palm Beach. As described in one story, Bush maintained his lead until 4:00 am, when "a rush of Democratic votes from Palm Beach brought the race to a virtual tie." 
Here's a theory. The Republicans had excellent access to the vote counts throughout election night, both through the media (the cousin at Fox News), and through the Secretary of State's office. They sat on a pile of Palm Beach's Democratic ballots until the end, so they could calculate how many votes they needed to spoil. Jeb caught hell at Thanksgiving for cutting it so close.
Remember, it did not take operatives in every precinct punching ballots. The ballots were all brought to the county elections offices election eve. It was the Republicans' good fortune that Democratic votes were concentrated in just a few densely populated counties.
2) For speed, the ballots can be stacked and mass-punched. (This insight was furnished by reporter Keating.) In heavily Democratic precincts, you will not spoil many Bush votes. In precincts with a larger percentage of Republican voters, you punch the Bush chad (resulting in the Bush/Gore overvotes), so you don't ruin any Bush votes. In precincts with Republican votes, you might take some time to pre-sort. And you spoil fewer ballots. In any event, you want some Bush overvotes, to divert suspicion.
In fact, the Post overvote data show patterns consistent with mass-tampering. Tables with the data (and analysis) are set out in the attached Addendum.
3) Many ballots could have been prepunched before they were distributed to the counties. There were in fact anecdotal reports of voters handed prepunched ballots at the polls.
With thousands of precincts in the punchcard counties, a few ballots per precinct would likely go unnoticed, and could add up to many thousands. Should one or two be noticed, it would be shrugged off as accidental damage. Prepunched ballots could be directed more heavily to Democratic counties, such as Palm Beach or Broward, which voted 65% for Gore, or prepunched for Bush in more mixed counties.
Among other things, this ploy puts some overvote in every precinct, making it appear more random. The fact that there was "a handful" of overvote in "each and every precinct" was the evidence that convinced Reporter Keating of its innocent.
4) Democratic counties controlled by Democrats? Look again.
The three biggest blocks of overvote came from Duval (22,000), Palm Beach (19,000) and Miami-Dade (18,000). Duval is a Republican county, with thoroughly partisan elections officials. Nor would anyone seriously regard Miami-Dade as controlled by the Democratic Party, after what the nation observed during the election contest. That leaves Palm Beach. Just recently, I have seen reports questioning the loyalty of Theresa LePore, Palm Beach's allegedly Democratic Elections Supervisor, including her role in obstructing the Palm Beach hand count. 
3) When your daddy is the former head of the CIA and your brother is cozy with South American criminal elements, you have some of the best criminal talent in the world on the family rolodex. 
THE COVERUP--PHYSICAL EVIDENCE?
Where there's crime, there's coverup, and there's plenty going on here. In particular, there seems to be a determined effort to keep Duval's ballots under wraps.
First, Duval's Republican Party officials lied about the number of rejected ballots, as a result of which Democrats did not learn the numbers until too late to request a hand count.  Duval did not furnish any records for the Washington Post, the only major punchcard county not to do so. (They claim their software did not create such records.) Duval has refused to give the media access to the ballots for the handcount, despite a lawsuit by the Miami-Herald. And now scuttlebutt has it that Jeb is trying to sneak a bill through the Florida Legislature to seal the ballots.
This last, sealing the ballots, is a huge red flag. Why would Jeb care who sees the ballots? The media hand count is no big deal. The papers have already reported tallies that put Gore over the top, and vice versa, and it was a big yawn. To attempt such a blatantly fascist act as sealing the ballots, there is something more than chad dimples Jeb doesn't want us to see.
Physical evidence, maybe? Maybe someone got careless with the hole- punch. (Editor's note: I have also heard mention that some voters complained they were handed ballots that already had a hole in them. Such holes, apparently just a possible data-processing mark, would probably not even be remarked by most voters. )
I have heard one secondhand report of physical evidence, observed by a volunteer who counted ballots during the hand count. The county is unknown. As posted on an Internet discussion board, the account goes:
She said that of all the ballots they counted the LARGEST amount of disregarded ballots were overvotes. She said the person had obviously voted for Gore and someone had stuck something into the punched ballot and ripped it right through up to Bush's name.
THE DEMEANOR EVIDENCE
There is the boil, of course. George Bush's corrupt soul festering to the surface.
But did any one else notice Bush Senior after the election? First, the Gala Dinner at the White House, the night after the election, all the living presidents gathered to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the White House. There was George Senior in his tux, on his way to the fete as the newsguys caught up with him. Did he seem stressed out to you? He couldn't wait to get away from the cameras. Then a few weeks later, he was interviewed on TV (I can't remember by whom- Barbara Walters, or the like). Asked about his son the President-Apparent, Dad stumbled through something with the word "pride" in it, then made it clear he did not want to talk about the election, or his son. I swear I remember him saying something like "I want to talk about fishing."
A GIRL CAN DREAM, CAN'T SHE?
A month before the election, an amateur astrologer predicted that "secrets will be uncovered to Gore's advantage," and "Bush may be declared the president, only to have it taken away later." 
Gore in the White House and Bush in jail. There's a sweet thought.
Even if I'll never realize this fantasy, I can hope to get the evidence made public. So please pass it on. Write to your newspapers, representatives, demanding an investigation. Get this reported in the mainstream press, and I bet our President breaks out in boils all over again. I bet we wipe the smirk right off his face.
How's that for a rallying cry? WIPE THE SMIRK OFF. I'd put that on my car.
The ballots were stacked and mass punched for speed.
The overvote data that support this theory.
The combinations seen with Gore overvotes occur in about the same descending scale of frequency as the Bush overvotes. This is consistent with mass-tampering. Thus, if the tamperer punched "Browne" 1000 times in precincts that went 30/70 Bush/Gore, there resulted 300 Bush overvotes and 700 Gore. If he mass-punched "Buchanan" 500 times in the same precincts, there resulted 150 Bush overvotes and 350 Gore. If 1000 ballots are tampered in 20/80 precincts, it's 200/800, and so on down the scale.
Here is how the combinations compare (the Post data, recall, cover 57,000 overvotes, all the suspicious counties but Duval):
|Browne: 6743||Buchanan: 2117|
|Buchanan: 6297||Browne: 909|
|McReynolds: 3259||Moorehead: 847|
|Nader: 2009||Nader: 738|
|Moorehead: 1721||Hagelin: 350|
|Harris: 1281||McReynolds: 307|
|Hagelin: 789||Harris: 289|
|Phillips: 778||Phillips: 281|
As it turns out, that surprising Gore/McReynolds item is 2868 Gore overvotes just from Palm Beach (not matched by a comparable number of Bushes). Here's how the numbers stack up all counties but Palm Beach:
|Browne: 5420||Browne: 782|
|Nader: 1700 ||Moorehead: 722|
|Moorehead: 1278||Nader: 613|
|Harris: 1017||Buchanan: 509|
|Buchanan: 1015||Hagelin: 307|
|Phillips: 619||Harris: 238|
|Hagelin: 611||McReynolds: 220|
|McReynolds: 391||Phillips: 195|
That's a fairly uncanny agreement. Once again, "random" is not the word for this overvote.
This next part is really speculation, but stay with me. Remember the 2868 Gore/McReynolds overvotes in Palm Beach. Obviously, those overvotes will be found in the heavily Democratic precincts, where 80 - 90% of the votes went to Gore. Now remember that a big block of Democratic Palm Beach votes were the last to be tallied on election night, perhaps kept in reserve until the exact number of votes to be spoiled could be calculated. Maybe those last ballots were the McReynolds overvotes. All part of how the scheme was orchestrated and executed.
Again, these are unpublished data furnished to the author by Post reporter Dan Keating.
With access to a precinct-by-precinct breakdown (the data exists, just got to get it from the Post), and money and time to analyze it, we might find some very interesting statistics.
1. It is difficult to get exact numbers for the overvote. The counts have varied as absentee ballots came in, and as machine recounts and hand counts recovered previously rejected ballots. Various tallies have been published as the election contest went on.
The best sources I have are (1) an Orlando-Sentinel survey, published 11/14/00, that shows total rejected ballots (both under and overvotes) county by county, and also indicates what voting method (punch, optiscan, a very few others) the county used and (2) a county- by-county survey of the undervotes that had not been counted as of the date the Florida Supreme Court ordered the recount. I saw the latter published in the San Francisco Chronicle. There were no data for a few of the counties in the undervote survey.
The Duval (22,000) and Palm Beach (19,100) overvote numbers have been reported in numerous articles, including many cited here. I have calculated the overvotes in the other 5 counties by subtracting the reported undervote totals from the reported rejected ballot totals.
To add all the numbers up:
The total number of rejected ballots is just under 180,000, according to the Orlando-Sentinel survey. Most published reports refer to the overvote as 110,000, and the undervote as 62,000. So there are clearly gaps.
The Washington Post study covered Palm Beach, Miami-Dade, Broward, Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco, Highlands and Marion, all punchcard counties, for a total of 57,000 overvotes. Duval is another 22,000, for a total of 79,000.
According to my sources, there are 31,674 total rejected optiscan ballots, of which 6,671 (perhaps more) were undervotes. Thus, about 25,000 of the overvote is optiscan.
Finally, there were 17 small punchcard counties not included in the Post study, for a total of about 20,917 total rejected ballots, 11,370 (or more) undervotes and therefore 9,547 overvotes.
Some of the punchcard overvote is no doubt innocent. I am uncertain about Pasco, Highlands and Marion counties, included in the Post study. Pasco, with 2100 overvotes, is adjacent to Pinellas, and could share some of the demographics of its Democratic-voting neighbor (making it a target for tampering). Highlands and Marion (1,500 combined) are less certain. So the figures about add up: 76,000 - 79,000 suspicious punchcard overvotes, 25,000 (probably, mostly) innocent optiscan overvotes, about 10,000 punchcard overvotes scattered over 17 - 19 counties, and 5,000 - 10,000 hard to peg.
2. "Multiple voting hurt Gore in Florida," Dan Keating, Washington Post, Jan. 27, 2001.
See also "State's double-punched ballots far outnumber those elsewhere," Andrea Robinson, Geoff Dougherty and Curtis Morgan, Miami- Herald, Nov. 18, 2000. In addition to Palm Beach and Duval, the early piece reported Miami-Dade, Broward, Hillsborough and Pinellas as having abnormally high overvote rates, predominantly from Democratic precincts.
3. "The disappearing ballots of Duval County," Eric Boehlert, Salon.com Nov. 13, 2000. "The State's double-punched ballots far outnumber those elsewhere," supra.
4. "Palm Beach County Overvotes Leapt Sixfold over 1996," George Bennett and Joel Engelhardt, The Palm Beach Post, Dec. 8, 2000
5. "The disappearing ballots of Duval County," supra
6. "The disappearing ballots of Duval County," supra. "Democrats Rue Ballot Foul-Up in a 2nd County," Bonner and Barbanel, New York Times, Nov. 16, 2000.
7. I owe this insight to a personal communication from the author of the Washington Post story, Dan Keating, who, despite maintaining his skepticism of the tampering theory, furnished much useful information.
Bush/Gore overvotes might also have been created by prepunching ballots for Bush, or a combination of the two tactics.
8. "Small counties wasted more than 1,700 votes," Orlando- Sentinel Jan 28, 2001.
9. Personal communication, Dan Keating (Washington Post).
10. To be fair, I am aware of one previous instance of significant overvote in Miami-Date, the election of 1988, and again the overvote occurred in the black precincts. So it may be that punchcard overvote is not uncommon after all, at least in the black precincts of Miami-Dade. But also noteworthy about the election of 1988, there were strong suspicions of fraud in the US senate race, with the suspicion centering--once again--on the counties of Miami- Dade, Palm Beach, Hillsborough and Broward.
The statistics from the '88 Florida senate race are even weirder than Election 2000's. In that contest, Democrat Buddy MacKay lost a close race which featured an unprecedented "dropoff rate" of 200,000 votes, predominantly centered in the four Democratic counties listed above. (The "dropoff rate" is the dropoff between total votes cast for president and total votes cast for senator.) To highlight the extraordinary absence of senate votes in those counties, in Hillsborough, even a referendum that drew the lowest number of votes statewide- `Amendment Number 3: Assessment of High Water Recharge Lands' - recorded 10 percent more votes than the senate race. Carl Bernstein, "Problems in Florida 2000 Vote Echo 1988 Senate Race," Salon.com Dec 6, 2000; David Beiler, "A Short in the Electronic Ballot Box," Campaigns and Elections July/August 1989
The large presidential overvote in Miami-Dade could have been part of the scheme to steal the senate race. Reducing the total votes cast for president reduced the dropoff rate, thus mitigating that suspicious statistic.
11. "Democrats Rue Ballot Foul-Up in a 2nd County," Bonner and Barbanel, New York Times, Nov. 16, 2000. "Blacks Cry Foul In Duval County," Robert Saladay, San Francisco Chronicle,
12. Orlando Sentinel, Dec. 19, 2000, Untitled? piece by David Damron, Ramsey Campbell and Roger Roy. "Board discovers that over- votes could present a problem," Kathleen Chapman, Palm Beach Post, Dec. 6, 2001. "Small counties wasted more than 1,700 votes," Orlando- Sentinel Jan 28, 2001.
While for the most part the optiscan overvote looks innocent to me, there is some question about Gadsden, a rural county that is nonetheless majority black. Gadsden saw about 10% of its votes lost to overvote, almost 2,000 ballots, and one group suspected about 500 Gore votes were tampered with. See "The Florida recount continues," Salon.com, Jan. 18, 2001.
It is hard to tell what went on in Gadsden-innocent voter error, part of a larger fraud conspiracy, even tampering at the precinct level. Gadsden gets specific mention in "Florida's Typical Election Day is Often a Nightmare," Mark Fineman and Lisa Getter, LA Times, Nov. 12, 2000: "Gadsden, the only one of Florida's 67 counties with a black majority, has a long history of vote fraud, which many residents say is grounded in racism and carried out through intimidation."
13. "Nearly half of the tossed ballots came from black, elderly precincts." Stephen Kiehl and Elliot Jaspin, The Palm Beach Post, Nov. 18, 2000. See also "The state's double-punched ballots far outnumber," supra.
According to the Palm Beach Post, there are 120 precincts where the elderly make up the majority of the population, accounting for 98,000 of Palm Beach's 460,000 votes. These precincts saw 9.3% of their ballots rejected. Subtracting a reasonable guestimate for undervotes, that's maybe 7,500 overvotes, or one out of 13.
14. I had the opportunity to talk with an attorney volunteer for the Democratic Party who conducted voter interviews in Palm Beach after the election. He told me that there were "a few thousand" affidavits from voters who "weren't sure," but thought they might have punched their cards twice. I tried to probe him as to what mental process caused the voters to punch twice. The volunteer talked vaguely about the Buchanan confusion, but I could not elicit any reasonable story from him that would explain how confusion over the Buchanan hole could cause overvote. He emphasized that none of the affiants had a definitive memory of overvoting; they were all "unsure."
I am ultimately persuaded that the voters who gave affidavits about overvoting were trying to give the interviewer the information he was seeking. The Democratic Committee website solicited testimonials from voters confused by the ballot, and specifically asked to hear from voters who might have been so confused that they punched their ballots twice. No doubt there were other outreach programs during this period of time, on radios, etc. In short, the "unsure" affidavits were solicited, and are dubious evidence of actual voter error. Rather, the failure of the effort to elicit testimony of voter confusion is proof of its absence.
15. "Whoops! How the Networks Got it Wrong," Michael Hammerschlag, Mediachannel.org 1/03/01
17. "President Jackass: Stupid George loses more votes," John Seeley, LAWeekly Feb 2-8, 2001. LePore registered as a Democrat just before running for Elections Supervisor in 1996. She was registered Independent before that, and Republican before that.
18. "Coup 2K," John Dee, Jan. 15, 2001 nettime- archive@n...
19. "The disappearing ballots of Duval County," supra
20. "Personals" column, Leah Garchik, San Francisco Chronicle, Nov. 14, 2000