Insomnia (insomnia) wrote,

Does the vote add up?

For those of you who think that George Bush will be the next president, you might want to think again... looks like the Gore campaign did something very clever that probably gives him the upper hand.

The Gore campaign, realizing that there were some pro-Gore counties in Florida with a large amount of ballots that registered through machine counting as having no choice selected for either presidential candidate, decided to request a hand recount for those counties. What scares the Bush campaign about hand recounts is that they almost always come up with significantly higher vote totals than standard computer recounts, largely because most of the no-votes turn out to be ballots where the manual punch didn't fully dislodge the little paper bit on the ballot. These hand counts probably will put Gore ahead of Bush in Florida, thereby giving him the election, regardless of what happens in any of the other undecided states.

The Bush campaign has two real recourses to prevent this... they are trying one now, which is quite unique. They are trying to have a federal judge prevent these counties from allowing manual recounts that, frankly, they have every right in the world to grant to the requesting candidate. After all, it's a very close election and the Gore party specifically requested and was granted a right for the most accurate count possible. All that is happening are that some people are having their votes count, right?! I heard that they will have to take this dubious request up in front of a Federal judge appointed by Clinton, however. Good luck there...

The second recourse that the Republicans have, and the one that would be most likely to win the election for them, is to demand a recount in counties that heavily favor Bush... the only problem there is that out of the 50+ counties in Florida, the deadline to request a hand recount has passed for all but 14 of the counties! That means that most of the best counties for the Republicans to pick aren't available... If the Republicans select a couple counties amongst the slim pickings, expect the Democrats to follow in suit. Given a random choice of counties, this isn't good news for the Republicans.

The great truth of the Florida election is that we will probably never know the actual vote count. It could have gone either way... but based on the fact that absentee ballots tend to strongly favor Republican voters and that all the absentee ballots have been counted, we can safely assume that on the night of the election, more Democrats went to the polls in Florida than Republicans. (This is a pretty safe assumption, otherwise Bush would have tens of thousands more votes than Gore based on his absentee ballot lead.) What this means is that if the Bush campaign requests a hand recount in any of the remaining counties which favor him, Gore can counter by requesting a recount in a couple extra counties that favor him, and possibly even a few where the vote tally was close to even... statistically, it doesn't matter, since most of the votes cast that night were for him.

Now, the obvious question to ask is whether all this is exactly fair... the answer, of course, is no, in the sense that Gore is getting an advantage that Bush won't have... and yes, in that Bush failed to capitalize on his advantages when he had the chance. Political victories don't go to the fairest, they go to the most clever. We'll have to wait on the vote count for the final outcome, but Gore is looking awfully clever right about now...

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