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Published Tuesday, December 19, 2000, in the Miami Herald

Herald, Knight Ridder review Broward ballots
Accounting and consulting firm retained to tabulate the results

The Herald and its parent company, Knight Ridder Inc., Monday began a review of approximately 6,600 ballots in Broward County that registered no vote for president during the machine count. This is the beginning of a project that will involve reviewing about 60,000 so-called undervotes in all 67 Florida counties.

Because these ballots have been at the center of debate over the outcome of the presidential election, The Herald and Knight Ridder believe there is substantial, continuing public interest in documenting and tabulating the marks, if any, that appear on the ballots.

To assure impartiality and accuracy, The Herald and Knight Ridder have retained the services of BDO Seidman, LLP, one of the largest accounting and consulting firms in the nation. BDO Seidman has 40 offices in the United States, and it is a member firm of BDO International, among the largest accounting and consulting firms in the world, with more than 530 offices in more than 90 countries.

BDO Seidman has agreed to observe each ballot, record the marks it finds and tabulate the results, providing reports to The Herald and Knight Ridder.

In observing the presidential portion of the ballot, BDO Seidman representatives will note the characteristics of each ballot in the following manner: dimple, pinprick, one corner detached, two corners detached, three corners detached, punched cleanly and no mark.

They will note by candidate number which of the characteristics applies.

For example, in Broward County, No. 2 on the ballot corresponds to George W. Bush and No. 3 corresponds to Al Gore.

BDO Seidman representatives also will document whether dimples, hanging chads or clean punches were observed in races other than the presidential contest.

In Broward on Monday, the BDO Seidman representative began to review the ballots on behalf of The Herald and Knight Ridder. The Herald and other Knight Ridder newspapers at times may assign reporters to review ballots, but BDO Seidman representatives will always conduct their own review, and their observations and tabulations will be the only ones used for publication.

The media is gaining access to the ballots under Florida's public records law, which classifies ballots as public documents available for inspection. Since all ballots are anonymous, voters need not fear that media organizations will discover who voted for whom.

Because county supervisors of elections are making the ballots available on varying schedules, it may be a number of weeks before full statewide tabulations are completed.

Martin Baron
Executive Editor
The Herald

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