They dug deep into the legal battles, suggesting that the reason Gore didn't seek a recount in all of Florida's counties was because each county had to be asked; it couldn't be done on a statewide basis. Given time constraints, and Warren Christopher's desire to avoid a messy legal battle, the Gore team finally agreed to recount only four counties. But, Warren, democracy is messy.
During the US Supreme Court challenge, someone discovered that in Texas, George Bush signed a law requiring that dimpled chads be counted. That position was unsuccessfully used against the Bush team in court, but speaks volumes to regular Americans watching the film: the rules of voter intent apply only when the powerful want them to apply.
Today, we all know about dimpled, pregnant and hanging chads. In 2000, we all learned about them at the same time, and the film captured this, connecting ordinary Americans with party elites.
That every vote be counted – as a matter of constitutional right – seemed lost on everyone but Ron Klain. The reality that political operatives will do whatever it takes to win, came thru repeatedly. The film showed how Dems didn't want Jessie Jackson or the grassroots involved, but I can't think of a bigger call to action: if Americans want their votes honestly counted, they must oversee the process.
Alas, it failed to inform the public that when all the votes were finally counted, by the University of Chicago, Gore handily won Florida. 1
But the main point being made is a reality I discovered in my investigations: elections are decided by administrative rules and legal proceedings that have little to do with the will of the people.
Given that the film is about how we voters lost to the will of the powerful, it's almost shocking to realize I walked away feeling good and energized, and ready to fight another battle. Best of all, I finally laughed, and laughed hard, about a subject that has reduced me to tears in the past four years.
Maybe that was the real point – the subliminal message is don't give up – keep up the fight. Democracy is something you do, and right now, election integrity is where the battle is being waged.
Meanwhile, catch Recount; it's worth the view on many levels, even if it didn't mention the scientific recount which proved that the people of Florida did not elect Bush in 2000.
p. 51 "However, in 2001, every uncounted ballot was carefully examined in a scientific study by the University of Chicago, which found that when all the votes were counted, more votes had been cast for Gore than for Bush. The source of Gore's winning margin resided in an unexpected place." (7)
p. 52 "Ironically, we now know that the outcome of the 2000 presidential election did not hinge on hanging chads. (undervotes) Gore's winning margin was in an entirely different set of machine-rejected ballots---in what are now called "write-in overvotes." These were ballots on which a selection had been made from the list of candidates and then a name had also been printed in the space for write-ins. Although write-in overvotes were automatically excluded by tabulating machines, they contained unambiguous and legally valid votes whenever the write-in candidate matched the candidate chosen form the list preceding it. In its comprehensive study of all the uncounted ballots, the University of Chicago found that write-in overvotes heavily favored Gore. Thus, a full recount would have determined unambiguously that Gore had won." (8)
(7) For a detailed review and analysis of the study's data see Lance deHaven-Smith, "The Battle for Florida: An Annotated Compendium of Materials from the 2000 Presidential Election (Gainesville: the University Press of Florida, 2005).
(8) deHave-Smith, pp. 38-42. See also, Steven F. Freeman and Joel Bleifuss, "Was the 2004 Presidential election Stolen? Exit Polls, election Fraud, and the Official Count, pp. 33-54.
Endnote research provided by Judy Conoyer of Missouri's Show Me the Vote.
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