Recount: AP vs. Official Numbers?

What do other Dopers know about the official word on the Florida recount? The Associated Press is reporting that with the recount over, but overseas ballots not counted, Bush still leads by 327 or so votes. But, this is the AP’s numbers, not any official figures. Twice last night I heard a news reporter say that the official numbers were very different. He said that with 53 of 67 counties reporting, there was virtually no change from the first count (Bush by 1700 votes). The official figures supposedly show just a few random votes changed, and no big swings.

So what’s up with this? Was the reporter right? If he is, then there are a few possible scenarios that I can think of:

  1. The State of Florida has not officially released any revised figures yet. The reporter was an idiot. I think this is the most likely explanation.

  2. Jeb Bush is fixing the vote: Possible, but not likely given the attention he’s getting.

  3. The localities with large shifts were the results of ballot stuffing or some other suspicious scenarios, and the State of Florida is not accepting their recounts. Possible, and IMO more likely than any state-wide fraud attempts.

  4. AP has been giving out bogus numbers. Perhaps they are trying to maintain a high level of interest to keep ratings at the sky-high levels they’re currently at. On a more sinister note, It has crossed my mind that they may be trying to make the election look more corrupt than it actually was.

  5. AP simply screwed the pooch on this one. They’ve already blown it more times than Monica Lewinski in this election, so why not another time?

Does anyone have any more info on this? What is the current word on the official count?

The official numbers remain the same as they were after the first counting. The number will not change from 1784 until the signed recounts are received by the state. Florida is not going to change the numbers based on an AP story.

The AP has people in the recount counties, so they have the numbers before they are sent to the state.

The Florida Secratary of State was asked the same question and responded, as did Zoff, that the AP was getting their numbers directly from the county people.

I seem to be the only person who thinks this, but I am convinced that the SoS gave the unrevised numbers yesterday. This is why the margin remained the same. The media is reporting that it was merely a coincidence, but the numbers she read off were 2,909,xxx for bush and 2,907,yyy for Gore. These are of a magnitude of the entire vote, and not 53 counties.

I heard that when the AP and other news services get the numbers, they may not be getting the signed off on numbers - that is, someone is counting ballots, but not all of them will be approved by the local recount them boss. So the numbers they think they have might be a little less or more than get sent on. Besides, you know how tough it is to have goobers count anything. Maybe instead of ballots, they should use beer bottles and or moon pies. Betcha they would get that straight the first time.

Izzy - The Florida Sec. of State, in her evening news conference, did give the original numbers tallied Tuesday night/Wednesday morning. She called them the “unofficial certified” number. She said that her office would not release any recount numbers until they were certified by each county Board of Electors. AP was getting their updated numbers by calling the county officials directly. Interestingly, the Voters News Service (The same folks whos numbers were responsible for all the election night waffling) released a re-count total that had Bush ahead by slightly more votes than AP. Can either be trusted? Who knows. As a local Florida election official, I may be tempted to feed the media wrong numbers just for fun.

Diceman - It’s too early to tell which, if any, of your scenarios is correct. It’s possible that the “official” numbers that the reporter refered to only include those counties where the re-count offered minimal or no change. There were only a few counties with big vote swings after the recount. Palm Beach and Pinellas counties alone accounted for 1121 additional Gore votes, per the Fox News county-by-county tally on the web. Perhaps those aren’t in the “official” total yet. I’m giving up trying to figure this out until the Florida Sec. of State gives the official, official results.

I’d also keep in mind that the things reporters say have to be taken with large grains of salt. For instance, many reporters ‘report’ that Florida law requires the ballot to have the punch hole to the right of the name; in fact Florida’s relevant statute only requires that of paper ballots marked by pen or pencil and counted by hand, not of ballots read electronically (compare §101.151 with §101.5609). Reporters do this because they become conduits of information given them by those who have an axe to grind, rather than rooters out of true fact when the story involves such intense interest with an emphasis on getting the mostest, not the bestest information.

I think the scenario substantially is this: There is an unofficial count, based on the tallies made Tuesday night. The Secretary of State maintains that that count is still the result of the election, until such time as she receives the officially certified results from the county election boards. That way, the state isn’t subjected to the silliness of reporting that the total has narrowed to, say 333 today, then has to update that figure tomorrow when three counties change their result for some reason, etc. At the same time, the Sec. of State, or someone else in her office, notes that they only have received the results of the recount from 53 counties. Some dimbulb puts these two things together and concludes that the recount remains at the same margin with 53 counties reporting. This assertion ends up being picked-up by other similarly low-wattage reporters, who begin to report this as ‘fact’. Don’t we just LOVE the media?

> 2) Jeb Bush is fixing the vote: Possible, but not likely given the attention he’s getting.

He’s taken himself out of the matter to avoid any appearance of a conflict of interest.

If he had the power to fix the vote, why make it so close? I’d fix it so that my guy won by tens of thousands of votes so nobody would be complaining.

As of now, Harris has released the recounted votes for all but one county, and according to her Bush’s lead has now dropped to 960 in the recount. (2,910,074 to 2,909,114). See for more details.

The remaining county is Palm Beach. According to the AP list at the Palm Beach recount will show a net increase for Gore of 643 additional votes.