Was Gore entitled to manual re-tabulation? No.
Converting Ambiguous Ballots
... Few people seemed
to care about the opposite possibility - that canvassing boards could
falsely interpret a voter's intention. Thus they
would be imposing voter's intent upon a ballot , making a
decision on behalf of the voter that was never intended. This is
AGAINST THE LAW!
Gore believes you have no
responsibility at all. You can cast your vote in any manner you
want. It is up to the canvassing board members to figure it out
and figure it correctly. You are a helpless victim unable to meet
the extremely difficult demands of casting your vote properly.
The Disaster of Manual Recounts
In this section I am summarizing Florida election law (2000) in order to demonstrate how Gore worked around it.
Florida election law only gives counties the option to use manual counting if their was an error in tabulation (i.e. a broken machine or fraud, etc.) Further, even if an error is found the canvassing board has the option of "fixing it" and continue counting ballots by the machine. In other words, manual tabulation was not the automatic prescribed procedure for disputes. It was merely an option for canvassing boards (not candidates!) should they think it necessary.
Again, in order to proceed with manual recounts the canvassing board must first discover an error in their tabulation. Also, the error needs to be significant enough to alter the outcome of the election.
Upon Gore's written request to his cherry picked counties, canvassing boards proceeded to review tallies in order to verify whether or not there was an "error in tabulation" that placed the election in doubt. In doing so they counted 1% of the ballots by hand.
As you may have guessed Gore was guaranteed a victory in this first step. Counties began applying their own standards and interpretation to ambiguous ballots. Undervotes that were previously discarded where now being included in the tallies. Naturally there were newly created discrepancies when compared with the original tallies.
Although canvassing boards didn't find actual errors with their original tabulations, they found errors on ballots!
Somehow this scheme convinced board members to proceed with full-scale manual tabulation. Soon counties started their hunt for votes and America watched as they held ballots up to light, looking for any markings what-so-ever.
The Palm Beach County Canvassing board members changed their standards at least four times. First, they said that dimples don't count, that the chad must be hanging from the ballot. Then they said dimples would count as long as there is light coming through. Later they changed once again saying that any speck of light coming through would constitute a vote (Gore started to rack up votes). Finally Judge Burton admitted that standards had gotten out of hand and he demanded that they go back to the original standard - the hanging chad.
The Miami Herald Report also concluded there was inconsistency among the manual recounts. Some ballots were disqualified that were baring similar markings as ballots that were counted as votes. This fails to live up to Florida's election laws regarding consistency and equal treatment of ballots. Likewise, this is the very reason why the Supreme Court of the United States was concerned about "equal protection". One person's dimple might have been acceptable, while another's might not.
Also, although the Florida Supreme Court later implemented statewide manual recounts, the process borders on violating another Florida election law that demands that there be no inadvertent touching or handing of ballots. And for good reason. In Marion county, as officials were holding a ballot up and arguing as to whether or not it was a clean punch, the chad popped out of place and fell to the floor. This caused the election worker to quip, "It's a vote now!"
Gore's whole premise that manual counting is the best and only fair way to count votes has been clearly shown to be false. If anything, it invites bias and mishap. It creates inconsistency and allows canvassing board members to impose their will upon the voter's ballot.
(more - excerpt from previous article)
... Gore effectively asked the Court to ignore there was no fraud, no broken voting machines, corruption, etc. and only focus on the possibility there may be some legal votes among the undervote total. Again, he wanted the court to concentrate on his manufactured catch 22 - his need to "look" at the ballots in order to prove his case. (Gore's lawyers claimed they could prove their case if they were merely allowed to "look" at the ballots. This was a clever attempt to get the Judge to turn them over and start counting.) To Gore's team, "looking" and "counting" shared the same meaning.
Gore maintains, the only real way to discern the intent of the voter is to manually read the ballot. In other words, we need a new standard for tabulating election results. It is no longer good enough to simply run ballots through the machine.
Gore, and the Florida Supreme Court, would like to prescribe the following new and improved voting law:
(More - Excerpt from previous article)
Although Florida has pages of law regarding voting and tabulating procedure, unfortunately there is no specific provision regarding undervotes. If it did we could simply refer to that law and make a judgment. However, in 1990 the state did clarify that under-votes are not to be computed when determining the margin of victory by a candidate. This simply reaffirmed that undervotes as determined by machines are not to be counted.
On the other hand, Florida election law does site 'overvotes' on several occasions. In these cases it clearly states that the vote is not to be counted. (101.011, paragraph 4, and 101.5614, paragraph 6).
Ironically, Gore and the Florida State Court never suggested that we should "determine the intent of the voter" on these ambiguous ballots (over 100,000!) Gore's lawyer maintained "because these ballots were never contested". The reason of course is that the law is crystal clear regarding overvotes. It is interesting that the Florida Supreme Court didn't want to use a "fact finding" mission to double check these ballots.
Another compelling law that somehow appears to be given very little weight by the Florida Supreme Court says the following; "No paper ballot shall be voided... so long as there is a clear indication thereon to the election officials that the person marking such ballot has made a definite choice,..." (101.011 paragraph 2)
Notice the two words used here, "clear" and "definite".
Al Gore would like everyone to believe (as the Florida Supreme Court apparently does) that machines are unable to make that judgment. But anyone can see that just the opposite is true. If a vote was clear and definite it would make it through the machine without a problem. Gore would convince people this is not true. Thus we were introduced to the world of hanging chads, dimple chads, pregnant chads, etc. Still, anyone would admit, using counting machines throughout the entire state would at a minimum make the under-vote standard consistent. Statewide consistency was a major concern for the U.S. Supreme Court!
In fact, Florida law dictates that ballots must be made in such a way that the counting could be done in a "uniform and consistent manner..." (title 9, 101.5609, paragraph 8)