Effort to tally Florida vote interesting, but ultimately useless

Posted: Monday, January 22, 2001

Oh, the irony. Two companies have been hired to recount the Florida ballots and both firms are based in -- get this -- Chicago. The Land of Lincoln. And the Land of Dead Man Voting.

Many political experts have long charged that John F. Kennedy would not have won the 1960 election without the help of then-Chicago Mayor Richard Daley (and maybe a few Chicago mobsters) who conjured up enough cemetery voters to swing Chicago to Kennedy.

Others insist that defeated Republican candidate Richard Nixon dropped his protest of the election because he knew that any recount in the state would turn up similar irregularities in heavily Republican southern Illinois. That history in no way should reflect on the recount in Florida. It's merely interesting.

Two groups of media organizations -- the Tribune Co. newspapers along with the Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, New York Times and CNN and the Miami Herald -- have hired the two Chicago firms to make a recount, which will have no legal standing.

The first group hired the National Opinion Research Center, located at the University of Chicago, to inspect all 180,000 Florida ballots on which no choice for president -- or two choices -- were counted by machines in all 67 counties.

The Herald hired the accounting and consulting firm of BDO Seidman to check the 60,000 undervote ballots -- but not the 120,000 overvote ballots -- statewide.

This count will not decide who won and you can pick whichever count total you wish. It's doubtful that both will draw the same conclusion. And the debate will continue. But the tallying should be completed by the end of March. And it should be thorough. One thing those folks in Chicago can do is count all the votes.

--The Tulsa (Okla.) World

Jan. 15

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