[EAS]Manual Ballot counting

pjk peter.kindlmann at yale.edu
Thu Nov 30 19:54:50 EST 2000

Mail*Link® SMTP               Manual Ballot counting

Dear Colleagues -

If had sent out all the Florida recount items I got, I'd be in the
hundreds by now. But I thought this description of a scrupulous
handcount might interest you, since there's been so much flak about


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[I don't have the original headers.]

Ron Albert
Broward County Board of Commissioners
Office of Internal Audit
115 S. Andrews Ave. #520
Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33301
954 357-5967 (fax 954 357-7314)

"Ron Albert" <ron-albert at msn.com> 11/19/2000 5:34:49 PM

To my relatives, friends, and colleagues:

Yesterday, I was a part of history.  My wife Annie and I volunteered
to take part in the manual recount of the presidential ballots in
Broward County, Florida.  I know that many of you, especially those
of you from other parts of the country, have been given a very jaded
picture of this process.  I want to share our experience with you and
attempt to set the record straight.

The EOC (Emergency Operations Center) was under intense security.
You even had to sign in and out to go to the restroom.  Each team of
counters consisted of two county employees (in our case it was me and
Annie) and an observer from each major party, one Democrat and one
Republican.  The room was FILLED with supervisors and floor personnel
from both parties also.  The media presence was everywhere as well.
During the lengthy day, we counted two entire precincts.  The process
was as follows:

We received a box of ballots for that precinct from an employee of
the Supervisor of Elections.  Until that point, no one was allowed
to touch the boxes of ballots, and that was under the scrutiny of the
Broward Sheriffs Office (BSO).  Neither party observer was permitted
to touch the ballots.  Only Annie and I on our team were allowed to
touch them.  Our sequence went something like this: I would pick up
a ballot and scan the column for the presidential vote to determine
whether a 2 was punched (Bush), a 3 was punched (Gore), or 4 through
11 (the other 8 candidates).  In some cases, there were more than
one punch in that column and those were placed in a pile marked "Over
punched".  In other cases, nothing was punched in that column and
those were placed in a pile marked "Under punched."  As I announced to
our team which one was punched, I would then show it to the Democratic
observer who was literally attached to me at the hip.  He or she would
look at the front of the card and then I'd turn it around so the back
could also be carefully observed.  Next, I'd pass the ballot to Annie
and she would repeat the process with the Republican observer.  After
all four of us looked at the ballot, it was placed in a pile marked
"2 Bush", "3 Gore", or "4-11 Other".  On occasion, one of the observers
would challenge the ballot because of a hanging chad, a pregnant chad,
or some other irregularity. These ballots were placed in the final
pile marked "Challenges".  Once all of the ballots had been processed,
we would then count each pile.  I did the counting for our team,
and the ballots were separated into piles of 25.  These were held
up to the light for all of us to check to make sure that we could
see through the hole punched for that candidate, ensuring that only
Gore votes were placed in his pile, only Bush votes were placed in his
pile, etc.  I then crisscrossed each group of 25 until we had them all
counted.  Then, I totaled up the groups of 25 and came up with a count
for that candidate.  This was agreed to by all four of us and then it
was logged on a summary sheet for that precinct.

In each of the two precincts that we counted, our counts exactly
matched what the Republican observers had recorded on their clipboard.
When we were done, an election official came over to collect our
ballots in boxes once again and to return them to the room in which
they were stored (which was under lock and key with security supplied
by BSO officers).  The room is glass encased, so anyone in the main
"war room" could see into that room.  The media spent the entire
day in the media room, another glass encased room, and they had
the ability to observe every single counting team in the room on a
constant basis.  This was also true of the parties' supervisors and
floor people who walked around the room all day.  About every hour,
one group of media people were allowed into our room to videotape the
proceedings.  You weren't allowed to have anything on the tables like
pens or any sharp object that could possibly be used to punch a hole
in the ballot.  If you needed to stand up, you had to raise your hand
and an election official had to come over to "supervise" that process.
When we broke for lunch (supplied by the county), BSO officers
cordoned off the entire area and stood guard during our 30-minute
gourmet lunch of sandwiches.  What I'm trying to portray is that
there was not a single chance for any kind of fraudulent activities
or underhanded stuff.  This was a very well controlled process and it
was done in a most professional manner.  Following the collection of
our counts, each precinct's results were to be compared to the initial
machine count.  In the case of discrepancies, those were resolved,
and it is my belief that the hand count would prevail.  Anyone in
his right mind would have to recognize that this process was way more
accurate than any machine could ever hope to be.

When we left the EOC, we had a very strong feeling of pride and
patriotism for having done an important service to our country,
and we felt very good that it had been done fairly, honestly, and
professionally.  Imagine our anger when we heard on the news that
one of the major parties was claiming that the entire manual count
was tainted by blatant fraud.  In the span of three seconds, they had
diminished all that we (and hundreds of others) had done.  Other than
an attempt to "save face" just in case the manual count did manage
to turn up enough missing votes to send the election to Mr. Gore,
I can't imagine why Mr. Bush's representatives would make such false
allegations.  Based on the early results of this process in Broward
and Palm Beach Counties, it is unlikely that Mr. Gore will gain enough
votes to win the state.  But, I think it was important to go through
this process, and I am proud that my wife and I were able to take part
in this historical event.  I wish I had the e-mail addresses for many
more acquaintances, but I don't -- so, please feel free to forward
this to whomever you think might be interested in hearing the real
facts.  Please remember that if you wish to reply to me, don't impose
on the rest of the people on my list by doing a "reply to all" --
please make sure your replies are just sent to me.

Thanks for listening.       -- Ron

Ron Albert
527 Water Point
Weston, Florida 33326
954 389-0750 (voice)
954 389-0749 (fax/modem)
<Ron-Albert at msn.com>

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