It Was Really A Tie In Florida and in the Nation - Voting Machine Choice Determined Winner in Florida
The reason it is taking so long to put this election to bed is that it really was a tie in Florida and the nation. The voters were presented with an unacceptable choice and, in the end, they refused to make it. They have hit the ball back into the court of the politicians, as if to say, you decide.
The number of double votes, under votes and no votes for president in Florida varied from a high of 12.4% in Gadsden County to a low of 0.24% in Seminole County.
Many explanations have been offered from the butterfly ballot arrangement in Palm Beach County to the allegation that minority voters were misled at the polls.
The truth turns out to be that the kind of voting machine used determined how many people did not vote for president.
There were 11 different voting systems in the 67 Florida Counties:
manual paper ballots (1)
TGS - Triad Government Systems, Xenia, Ohio (8)
SPS - Sequoia Pacific System, Exeter, California (2)
GES - Global Election System, McKinney, Texas (16)
F&C VM - Fidlar & Chambers, Rock Island, Illinois (2) Votematic
F&C DM - (1) Datamatic
ETN - ETNet, Inc., Little Rock, Arkansas (1)
ERC - Election Resources Corporation, Little Rock, Arkansas (11)
Optec - Election Systems & Software, Inc., Omaha, Nebraska, Optec III marksense
ES&S115 - Election Systems & Software, Inc. Omaha, Nebraska, Model 115 and/or315
As anyone can see from the following table, more voters did not vote for president in the counties with ES&S115 systems than in any other. It was used in 11 of the 17 counties where the highest percentage of voters did not cast ballots for president. At the other end of the scale, Global Election Systems (GES) supplied machines to the 10 counties which had the lowest percentage of voters who did not cast ballots for president.
|President Vote||County||Total Turnout||dropoff||System|
The proof is pretty clear. Many people were disenfranchised by the voting machine, not by deliberate machinations of officials. Most of the counties where the highest percentage of voters did not vote for president went for Bush.
It is noteworthy that 10 of the ERC, Election Resources Corporation counties had non-voting rates for president of between 1.71% and 3.31%, the top of the bottom half, 34th to 42nd, plus 45th. So, these are good systems. The only exception was Palm Beach County, which had a rate of 6.36% and was 18th of the 67 Florida counties. So, if only Palm Beach County had used the machine the way the rest of the counties had used the machine, Gore would now be president.
But why should the adjustment be made only for Palm Beach County? Let's give all the voters back their vote by making an adjustment for all the machines. When this is done, as the following chart shows, Gore gains a total of 1,700 votes. But because that would mean that no one skipped the top of the ticket (which never happens) he is really entitled to about 850 more votes.
(Gore - Bush) means Gore's vote minus Bush's vote.
In other words, the race in Florida was really a tie. And that means the race in the country was really a tie. The truth is that Gore lost the race after the election. He should have said, "It's a tie, but I won the popular vote, so I'm asking the electors to vote for me." Instead, Gore went to court.
So instead of Gore by a narrow margin and a Republican Congress, it will be Bush, a minority president, with a split senate. Either way, the voters have delivered a big Bronx cheer to both of them. For the next four years, the United States is not going to have a president. Everything ought to go very well.
Beyond the issue of president, this election sends a clear message from the voters to the professional politicians that every vote counts and that every candidate counts. The margin of victory in Florida, even with fully functioning machines and no diverted votes, was smaller than the number of votes received by Nader, Browne, Buchanan, Phillips and maybe even Moorehouse.
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Contact: Joshua Leinsdorf