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Recount reveals importance of voter education

Re: the ballot recount.

I'll be the first to say that we need to support our country and its leader, no matter how we may feel about them outside of the current tragedy. But your coverage of the ballot recounts tells a harrowing tale: that more Florida voters went to the polls to vote for the team of Al Gore and Joe Lieberman than for George W. Bush and Dick Cheney.

This tells me what I and everyone else who wanted Gore as president already knew: that if people had voted correctly and if the state wasn't so strict (especially where the intent of the voter was known), then right now a President Gore would be guiding us through this current tragedy.

According to some of those images of messed up ballots, this state has some highly uneducated voters, which almost makes it embarrassing now to try to brag about being a native Floridian.

Now we really know the will of the people. We also, hopefully, will learn from our mistakes. I don't expect a change in leadership in the middle of this. Bush was sworn in and I'll be the first to admit, there's no turning back. All we can do is pray.

What this state needs to do (Jeb Bush, Katherine Harris and elections supervisors, are you listening?) is educate people about how to vote. It seems to be so simple, but apparently is not.

It doesn't matter about overvotes, undervotes, votes not detected, or different standards of counting. The bottom line is more people in Florida wanted Gore and not Bush. I want to thank the man who inspired more people to vote for him throughout this country, including Florida, for his fantastic leadership during eight years as vice president of the United States and look forward to his possible future leadership as president after January 2005. Thank you, Al Gore!

Dave Cutler, Tampa

There's nothing new

The Florida election "story" is really a non-story and a waste of both time and resources. What we now know is what we knew back in November 2000: Many intellectually challenged voters made mistakes with their ballots. Many votes were voided. Overseas military votes were thrown out. President Bush was elected. Democrats are mad. Good!

Lloyd VanSchoyck, Palm Harbor

A futile effort

Doesn't the consortium feel a little foolish now? Months wasted, money thrown away, just trying to prove that George W. Bush is not the legitimate president. And what did you get for all your money? Nothing!

Playing by the rules, Bush was, is, and always will be the legitimate candidate elected in the 2000 presidential race.

In trying to bolster your partisan bias, you have accomplished just the opposite. You have taken away any fuel the Democrats could have employed in questioning Bush's legitimacy during the 2004 election.

I find it so ironic that your study is released at a time when Bush has approval ratings higher than any other president has ever enjoyed.

Futility, thy name is media.

R. McLean, St. Petersburg

Don't mislead the public

Why does your headline read Recount: Bush, when any person who has followed this election (or reads the results of the consortium) knows that in most scenarios it's Recount: Gore? The consortium's findings prove that. If all votes were counted, including overvotes and undervotes, it's Gore. If the strict Palm Beach County standard was used it's Gore. And if the overseas ballots were counted per state law, it's Gore again. The New York Times said:

"Using the most restrictive standard _ the fully punched ballot card _ 5,252 new votes would have been added to the Florida total, producing a net gain of 652 votes for Mr. Gore, and a 115-vote victory margin.

"All the other combinations likewise produced additional votes for Mr. Gore, giving him a slight margin over Mr. Bush."

That paper also said: "If all the ballots had been reviewed under any of seven single standards, and combined with the results of an examination of overvotes, Mr. Gore would have won, by a very narrow margin. For example, using the most permissive "dimpled chad' standard, nearly 25,000 additional votes would have been reaped, yielding 644 net new votes for Mr. Gore and giving him a 107-vote victory margin."

Yes, it's true that if only the undervotes were counted it is Bush. However, in America we are supposed to count all the votes. That's really been the issue all along. We certainly are not supposed to disenfranchise minorities and the elderly and if you really read the report you can see that bad ballot design did just that.

Your headline should have been Recount: Gore & Bush, but by printing it Recount: Bush you have mislead the public and have done a great disservice to journalism. The truth is still the truth and should be reported as such with a concurring headline.

L. Fink, St. Petersburg

Other lost votes to investigate

Re: Recount: Bush.

A million dollars to learn that (1) Bush won; and (2) Democrats are dumber than Republicans. The first point is academic and the second long evident to any reader of your columnists.

When/if you recover from your shattered dreams, why not spend another million on analyzing how many thousands of conveniently unmentioned votes were lost in 12 predominantly Republican Panhandle counties due to the networks' calling Florida for Al Whatshisname while the polls were still open?

Edward Strickland, Palm Harbor

Election was stolen

Re: Recount: Bush, Nov. 12.

According to several Web sites such as www.consortiumnews.com, Al Gore was the choice of Florida's voters. Apparently that was the core finding of the eight news organizations that conducted a review of disputed Florida ballots. Gore won even if one doesn't count the 15,000 votes that USA Today estimated Gore lost because of the butterfly ballot or the hundreds of African-American voters who were falsely identified by the state as felons and not permitted to vote.

George W. Bush was not the choice of Florida voters anymore than he was the choice of the American people who cast a half million more ballots for Gore than Bush nationwide.

Yet, I assumed that for reasons of "patriotism" in this time of tragedy and crisis that news organizations that financed the Florida ballot study structured their story on the ballot review to indicate that Bush was the legitimate winner.

In principle, the results of the actual recount don't matter much at all. This is because the real crime was not that Al Gore may have won Florida had all his votes been accurately tabulated. It is that the Republican Party and five U.S. Supreme Court justices didn't care what the actual results in Florida were. It may well be that under even a generous standard, George W. Bush would still have won Florida. The point is that the Republicans didn't want to find out and were willing to do just about anything to avoid doing so.

George Bush is the president, and we need to stand behind him in this time of crisis and turmoil in this country. However, we also need to remember how this election was stolen from the voters of this country. There is no way I can believe that what happened in Florida during the election was a part of democracy.

Joyce Sheets, Tampa

Some seemed unfit to vote

In your extensive report on what will hopefully be the final recount of ballots from the November 2000 presidential election, you conclude that, if all of the uncounted votes had been included _ through some mystical process to determine exactly whom those people really meant to vote for _ Al Gore would have carried Florida by a small margin.

But in reaching that conclusion, you seem to have overlooked the fact that almost certainly most of those uncountable votes were cast by persons who shouldn't have been at the polls at all. That is to say, they were apparently unfit to vote, either because of being unable to understand the issues (e.g., functionally illiterate or incompetent), or perhaps because they didn't meet basic legal requirements (e.g., citizenship).

John G. Nash, Homosassa

Another no-show

Re: The 2000 election results.

Some of your more literate readers may be familiar with the play, Waiting for Godot. This play reminds me of what has been happening with the much-hyped recount by the press of last year's election.

You people probably hoped for a Gore victory. Essentially, this would have happened only with the most egregious stretching of the rules in overvotes. So, I guess you could say that the $900,000 or so spent by the press on doing a complete ballot survey had the same results as in the famous play. You have put forth a new drama called Waiting for Goredot. Just as in the earlier drama, he never showed up.

Milt Johnston, Tampa

Education is important

Re: Chopping collards and talking politics, Nov. 13.

You really showed the integrity of the people you wrote this story about. They were quoted saying Bush stole the election from the blacks, then had the nerve to say Bill Clinton "got shafted by Monica." One didn't even know how long the U.S. president's term was!

To confine it the best I can, I'd like them to know the truth. While Bill was in the Oval Office getting oral, terrorists were planning on how to tear this country down.

Education is a very important thing to have these days. Obviously these people had none. They'll be chopping collards the rest of their lives.

Thomas Day, Clearwater

A skewed view of women voters

Re: State of Confusion articles.

The St. Petersburg Times has let women know exactly what it thinks of us. I have suffered through two articles about last year's presidential election in which you are asking the opinions of Weeki Wachee Mermaids and exotic dancers. Thank you so much for this in-depth illustration of today's women voters!

Only one woman interviewed had actually voted and the others were too ambivalent and uninformed to bother.

Normally I would just throw the Times down in disgust but then my eyes fall upon an advertisement you have for donating your newspaper while on vacation to local schools for their use in the classrooms. Please, as if I want young girls being exposed to this degrading characterization of female American citizens. I would be just as well off having a subscription of the National Enquirer sent to the schools.

Laura O'Keefe-Fontaine, Tarpon Springs

Let it go

I can't not believe your paper would dedicate a whole section to lost votes. I do believe that this subject has been beaten to death.

Let it go. There is too much else going on in the United States for your paper to dwell on this. I for one certainly hope this is the end of this.

Pauline Micklos, New Port Richey

Share your opinions

Letters for publication should be addressed to Letters to the Editor, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731. They can be sent by e-mail to letterssptimes.com or by fax to (727) 893-8675.

They should be brief and must include the writer's name, address and phone number.

Letters may be edited for clarity, taste and length.

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