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Al gore really won florida by over 20,000 votes
Miami Herald - December 3, 2000 - 1A Front

Cited Article:

HISTORY IN SESSION: GORE TEAM STATES CASE INCLUDE `LEGAL VOTES,' LAWYERS URGE A FLAWLESS VOTE WOULD HAVE SHOWN A WINNER ANALYSIS FINDS AN EDGE FOR GORE  

abstract:

If no one had ever heard of hanging chads, if the
butterfly ballot had never flown, if no voter had bungled in the
booth, who would have won Florida and the presidency of the United
States? In a race so tight, it may never be known for certain. But a
Herald-commissioned analysis of voting patterns in each of the state's
5,885 precincts suggests that Florida likely would have gone to Al
Gore - by a slim 23,000 votes - rather than George W. Bush, the
officially certified...
Read more: http://nl.newsbank.com/
article purchased on 4/26/11
Miami Herald, The (FL)
December 3, 2000
Section: Front
Edition: Final
Page: 1A

Memo:ELECTION 2000
HISTORY IN SESSION: GORE TEAM STATES CASE INCLUDE `LEGAL VOTES,'
LAWYERS URGE A FLAWLESS VOTE WOULD HAVE SHOWN A WINNER ANALYSIS FINDS
AN EDGE FOR GORE
ANABELLE de GALE, LILA ARZUA AND CURTIS MORGAN,
cmorgan@herald.com

If no one had ever heard of hanging chads, if the butterfly ballot had
never flown, if no voter had bungled in the booth, who would have won
Floridza and the presidency of the United States?
In a race so tight, it may never be known for certain. But a Herald-
commissioned analysis of voting patterns in each of the state's 5,885
precincts suggests that Florida likely would have gone to Al Gore - by
a slim 23,000 votes - rather than George W. Bush, the officially
certified victor by the wispy margin of 537.


It's a hypothetical result derived from something that clearly doesn't
exist in Florida or anywhere else in the nation - an election where
every ballot is fully filled out and every one of those ballots gets
counted, an elusive ideal going these days by the buzzword ``the will
of the people.''

It is also as close as anyone is likely to get to the statewide manual
recount that some people say is the only way to fairly assess who
should be awarded Florida's 25 Electoral College votes.
Reaction to the analysis, from the two camps locked in an exhausting
and tense legal battle, was radically different. The Gore campaign
called it ``compelling evidence,'' and the Bush campaign dismissed it
as ``statistical voodoo.''

One fundamental flaw, Republicans argued, was an assumption that every
voter actually intended to cast a vote in the presidential race.
A large majority of ballots in the disputed counties of Palm Beach and
Duval didn't even have a dimple on them, said Bush spokesman Tucker
Eskew.

``If you want to divine voters' intent when there isn't even a mark on
the ballot, you'd do better to hire a palm reader than a statistical
analyst,'' he said.

But Stephen Doig, a professor at Arizona State University who crunched
the numbers for The Herald, defended the analysis.

For example, he said, even if the analysis were adjusted to include
the remote possibility that 90 percent of voters whose ballots were
discarded actually intended to skip the race, the margin still would
make a decisive difference for Gore - about 1,400 votes.
Doig described it as a matter of analyzing extremes.
He started his analysis with the assumption that every one of the
185,000 discarded ballots represented an intent to vote in the
presidential race. The other extreme, he said, is the Bush contention
that none of them should count.

``That extreme is the reality that we have, that Gov. Bush won by a
razor-thin 500 votes,'' Doig said.
``I'm no psychic. I don't know what they really intended to do, but I
do know that almost anywhere in that margin, Gore wins. You can argue
about where in the range it should be.''

Political analysts were mixed on what the numbers mean.
Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia's Center for
Governmental Studies, said he considered the analysis open to
questions.

``That is a reasonable assumption for the purposes of analysis,'' he
said. ``For the purposes of politics, it's highly questionable. In
most precincts, that may well be true, but in some precincts it may
not be, and that's a critical difference.''
Still, Sabato said he found the end result ``perfectly reasonable.''

``What you're providing evidence for, however speculative, is that
more people showed up on election day for Al Gore,'' he said. ``But
I'd also state that in our system, woulda, shoulda, coulda doesn't
matter. Only legal votes matter.''

And all statistical and anecdotal evidence he'd seen, he said,
indicated that Bush probably collected more of those - the ones that
counted.
Susan MacManus, a political science professor at the University of
South Florida, said there were too many variables in the analysis ``to
feel comfortable.''
``Inferring what the voters' intent was, I have a real problem with
people who can say they can do that,'' she said.
No one, of course, can accurately assess what 185,000 voters intended
to do with their discarded ballots, but in purely statistical terms,
there are consistent trends.

The Herald determined those trends by examining precinct results from
each of the state's 67 counties.

Those results showed that statewide, at least 185,000 ballots were
discarded, either as undervotes (ballots that for whatever reason
didn't record a vote for president) or overvotes (ballots where more
than one candidate was selected).

Those ballots then were assigned to a candidate in the same proportion
as the candidate had received in each precinct as a whole.
Under that analysis, Bush would have received about 79,000, or 42
percent, of the uncounted votes, and Gore would have received more
than 102,000, or 56 percent. The remaining 4,000 or so would have gone
to the minor candidates.

That assumption of voting patterns is based on a concept long accepted
by pollsters - that the opinions of a small percentage of people can
be extrapolated to project the views of a larger group. In this case,
however, the projection uses a larger group, generally from 90 to 98
percent of the successful votes in precincts, to project the intent of
a few.

The result: Gore ahead by 23,000 votes, a comfortable lead in
comparison to the official statistical tossup, though still narrow
enough to trigger the state's automatic recount, which kicks in when
elections finish closer than one-half of one percent.

The analysis also confirmed that the voters in Democratic precincts
had a far greater chance of having their ballots rejected. Only one of
every 40 ballots was rejected in precincts Bush won, while one of
every 27 ballots was rejected in precincts Gore won.

In addition, Doig, a former Herald research editor who now holds the
Knight chair at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism specializing
in computer-assisted reporting, found a number of other interesting
trends:
* Voting machinery played a large role in rejections.
Of the 51 precincts in which more than 20 percent of ballots were
rejected, 45 of them used punch cards - 88 percent. Of the 336
precincts in which more than 10 percent were tossed out, 277 used
punch cards - 78 percent.
The overall rejection rate for the 43 counties using optical systems
was 1.4 percent. The overall rejection rate for the 24 punch-card
counties was 3.9 percent. That means that voters in punch-card
counties, which included urban Democratic strongholds such as Broward
and Palm Beach counties, were nearly three times as likely to have
their ballots rejected as those in optical counties.
* In dozens of Florida precincts, at least one out of every four
ballots were discarded as having no vote or too many votes for
president.
* Nearly half of Gore's margin, more than 11,000 extra votes, would
come from Palm Beach County alone. The other counties that would give
him more than 1,000 new votes are Broward, Miami-Dade, Duval and
Pinellas. Of those, Bush carried only Duval in the official
tabulation.
* Palm Beach, home of the infamous butterfly ballot, and Duval, where
candidates' names were spread across two pages, had 31 percent of the
uncounted ballots, but only 12 percent of the total votes cast.
* Only 11 percent of precincts statewide recorded no discarded
ballots.
* Only one county would actually switch preferences for president -
tiny Madison, which officially went to Bush, but would have gone to
Gore under The Herald's projections. More than 10 percent of Madison's
4,000-plus ballots were rejected.


The analysis provides some evidence to bolster the Bush camp's claim
that recounting some counties but not others is unfair to the Texas
governor. For example, the analysis shows that if discarded ballots
were to be reconsidered in Collier County, which Bush won, Bush might
pick up about 1,000 net votes. Bush might also gain about 600 net
votes in Lee County and about 500 net votes in Nassau County.
In all, the analysis shows Bush gaining in 43 counties. But many of
those counties are rural and have relatively low numbers of votes, and
the gains would be quickly eclipsed by the numbers Gore might pick up
in the 23 mostly urban counties where the analysis shows he would show
a net gain.


In only one county does the analysis show that neither candidate would
gain on his rival. That is Volusia County, where the ballots already
have undergone a controversial manual recount.

REFLECTION OF VOTE
Doug Hattaway, a spokesman for the vice president's campaign, said the
results bolstered Gore's contention that the official results did not
fairly and accurately reflect the vote.
``The outcome of the presidential election rests on determining the
will of the voters of Florida, and this new evidence makes it
extremely hard for the Bush forces to ignore the people's will,'' he
said.
Eskew, the spokesman for the Texas governor, flatly rejected it as
``hocus-pocus'' and ``an utterly unfounded scientific process.''
In addition to mistakenly assuming that voters handing in undervotes
intended to vote, he said, the analysis also ignores the notion that
many of the double-punched ballots may have been ``protest votes,''
intentionally spoiled.
``That is a deeply flawed model that suggests statistical voodoo,'' he
said.
There are, however, ways of analyzing the data that attempt to account
for the possibility of protest votes and deliberate nonparticipation
in the presidential balloting. Even so, Gore hypothetically still
would have collected enough votes to change the election's outcome.
Historically, about 2 percent of votes in presidential races don't
count - most often because voters skipped the race or their marks
weren't recorded by counting machines. Florida's rejection rate this
year, however, was around 3 percent.

The analysis tested even higher percentages of nonvotes, ranging from
10 to 90 percent of the 185,000 discarded ballots. In each instance,
Gore still earned more votes.
The analysis also attempted to discard all undervotes as intentional
nonvotes, counting only overvotes. That analysis was hampered by the
fact that 37 counties did not differentiate in their reports between
ballots discarded as undervotes and those discarded as overvotes.
But based on results from the 30 counties that did, 43 percent of the
uncounted votes were undervotes. If that pattern held statewide and
every undervote were tossed out, ignoring the entire chad issue, Gore
still would have a 13,000-vote margin.
Assuming the overvotes are protests and counting just the undervotes
leads to a similar result.

STANDARDS CRUCIAL
That analysis underscores, however, the importance of the debate over
the standards for judging ballots with dimpled chads, swinging door
chads and other variations.
For example, if the undervotes are counted using the experience of
Broward's manual recount, where approximately 20 percent of the
undervote ballots yielded a vote, Gore's net statewide total rises by
about 1,500 - enough to overcome Bush's 537-vote official margin.
But if the standard used is the much stricter one that prevailed in
Palm Beach County, where only 5 percent of the undervote ballots
yielded votes, Gore's statewide net gain would be about 390 votes, not
enough to overcome Bush's lead.
That, however, is the only scenario in which Gore would not overtake
Bush. Overall, the analysis suggests generally that Gore's gains would
top Bush's, a challenge to assertions by the Bush camp that the Texas
governor would prevail in a statewide recount.
Republicans and some analysts didn't think the results were strong
enough to stand up.

ANALYSIS REVIEWED
MacManus, the USF political scientist, echoed Eskew's concerns about
protest and apathetic votes. She also said there were such wide
variances in the size and the social and economic mix of precincts
that it would be too difficult to extrapolate accurate results.
``In polls, you're used to a margin of error,'' she said. ``Here,
there's no room for margins of error.''
Others saw more validity in the analysis.
``You can always raise criticisms. You can never know for sure,'' said
Alan Agresti, a professor of statistics at the University of Florida
who reviewed the methodology. ``But I think when you do it at a very
fine level like this, at the precinct level, it's very interesting, a
good projection of what could have happened.''
Jim Kane, an independent pollster based in Fort Lauderdale, agreed
that the analysis contained many uncertainties. But he also said,
``I'm not shocked that Gore would have won.''
In fact, Kane, Agresti and Doig agreed that the formula probably was
conservative, awarding Bush too large a share of the pie. The biggest
problems with rejected ballots were in low-income, mostly minority
neighborhoods statewide - areas that voted heavily Democratic.

That could suggest that the same group, which included a larger
percentage of first-time and less educated voters, might have made
similar errors in all precincts.
Stephen Hess, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, a
Washington, D.C., think tank, also found the numbers persuasive.
``It's perfectly scientific, if it's presented in a sense as the most
massive statewide poll in Florida,'' he said. ``Sure, it's fun and
games, but it says something about what would have happened if
everybody knew how to vote.''


EXAMININNG FLORIDA'S DISCARDED BALLOTS
This map shows the counties where Texas gov. George W. Bush and Vice
President Al Gore would gain votes if the 185,000 discarded ballots
were allocated to each candidate based on the voting pattern in each
of Florida's 5,885 precincts.
This map was produced on the MacIntosh graphics system and could not
be included in the text Library database. Please refer to microfilm
for this date.
IF PEOPLE DIDN'T WANT TO VOTE
Political scientists say some people actually don't want to vote for
president. This chart shows how the outcome would have been affected
had varying percentages of the 185,000 discarded ballots been cast by
voters who did not wish to choose a president.
This chart was produced on the MacIntosh graphics system and could not
be included in the text Library database. Please refer to microfilm
for this date.
DISCARD RATE VARIED BY COUNTY
This map shows how the rate of discarded ballots varied from county to
county, in some counties, only a relative handful of ballots showed no
presidential preference. But in others, as many as one in 10 voters
cast ballots that were discarded.
This map was produced on the MacIntosh graphics system and could not
be included in the text Library database. Please refer to microfilm
for this date.
HOW BALLOTS ARE CAST
Voters inFlorida use four different types of voting systems, depending
on the county they live in. Counties where punch-card machines are
used had nearly three times as many ballots discarded as counties that
use optical scanners.
This article was produced on the MacIntosh graphics system and could
not be included in the text Library database. Please refer to
microfilm for this date.
Illustration:map:; graphics:
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Copyright (c) 2000 The Miami Herald

thomaswheat1975
miami herald study says al gore would have won by 23000 votes if more
inclusive recount took place

 
 
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