Associated Press: Memories of hanging, dimpled and pregnant chads were revived Tuesday, 10 years after the start of Florida’s 2000 election recount that made George W. Bush president. Chads, those little fragments voters punched out of paper cards — or left hanging, dimpled or pregnant — are the enduring symbols of the recount. The punch card ballots, now banned in Florida, were just one part, though, of the historic event recalled by judges, lawyers and other participants at a reunion sponsored by The Village Square, a Tallahassee-based group trying to revive civil discourse.

Read the whole article by Bill Kaczor HERE.

After more than five weeks, the U.S. Supreme Court ended it before all votes were recounted with Bush, the Republican, only 537 votes ahead of Democrat Al Gore. That gave Bush Florida’s 25 electoral votes and the presidency.


Time has eased the trauma, but recount memories are often unpleasant for those who were caught in the middle of the electoral dispute. Some participated in a formal discussion at Tuesday’s reunion that was open to members of the public who bought dinner tickets.

“This whole thing brings back nightmares,” said Florida Supreme Court Justice Jorge Labarga. He then was a circuit judge in Palm Beach County, the epicenter of election problems and home of the infamous butterfly ballot.

Gore was the second name on the left side of the ballot and Reform Party candidate Pat Buchanan was the first name on the right. To vote for Gore, though, voters had to punch the first hole in the middle of the ballot. The second hole was for Buchanan. Although Palm Beach was a solid Democratic county, Buchanan got more votes there than anywhere else in Florida, said Barry Richard, Bush’s lead in-state lawyer.


Leon County Elections Supervisor Ion Sancho, who has studied voting procedures across the state, calls the butterfly ballot “a well-intentioned disaster.”

He said Theresa LePore, then Palm Beach County’s elections supervisor, increased the type size so older voters could more easily read the ballot, but it also led to the awkward placement of names and punch holes.

One of 48 lawsuits spawned by the election landed in Labarga’s courtroom. Another judge had drawn the case and Labarga recalled going to lunch thinking he’d dodged a bullet.

He came back to discover that judge and every other one in Palm Beach County had refused to take the case.

He was unaware of that, though. Upon returning from lunch he was mobbed by cameras and reporters asking if he would order a new election. Labarga took the case — the chief judge gave him little choice — and refused to order a new election.

Labarga had no choice because federal law says presidential elections must be held on the same day nationwide, Richard said.

He also defended the Florida Supreme Court’s ruling that ordered the statewide recount and the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision that stopped it.

Richard, a former state lawmaker, was a Democrat who worked for Bush. He got the job because he earlier had been hired to represent the state in some cases and did legal work under Bush’s brother, Jeb Bush, Florida’s governor at the time of the recount.

The U.S. Supreme Court’s 5-4 ruling rejected Gore’s request to extend a Dec. 12 deadline. “When all was said and done, it wasn’t the lawyers or judges that made the difference,” Richard said. “It was time.”

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