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Florida's certified presidential election result suffers under scrutiny. Whether examined objectively or with an eye to justice, the result falls short. Hundreds of signed and sworn statements by Florida voters claim that they either had difficulty, requested assistance or a new ballot and were refused, or simply never got to vote after registering. Thirty-six claims of disenfranchisement are pending in the Florida courts. We no longer have a Selma of 1964, a Deep South that depends upon disenfranchisement to maintain power. Or do we? Lyndon Johnson compared Selma to Lexington, stating that how we manage voting rights and all equal rights "lay bare the secret heart of America." A conservative I know is serious when he maintains that voters who are "too stupid to figure out how to vote should be excluded." I hope he never grows old. Seniors must not be discriminated against at the ballot box, yet that is precisely what the butterfly ballot allows. The top line and first hole indicated the Bush-Cheney ticket. The second line indicated the Gore-Lieberman ticket, but not the second hole. Fine print and ballot misalignment requiring a hard punch further excluded the old eyes and hands. The Florida ballot would never pass a review by scientists for validity or precision as a measuring instrument. What we need is a statistician. We have to establish legally binding statistical parameters for acceptable results in a close election. Our voting procedure lacks a definition of accuracy, where accuracy is defined as "the degree of conformity to some recognized standard value," according to The Cambridge Dictionary of Statistics in the Medical Sciences. Researchers regularly work with data sets examining more difficult questions than "Who won?" The larger the sample size, the better the probability we have a valid result. Efforts to count all votes create a better sample. So far we have Bush declaring victory with 0.00009 of the total certified Florida vote, or the margin of victory at .009 percent, that is, 9/1000ths of a percent! He won Florida by 537 voters out of a total of more than 5.96 million cast. If Bush wins by 0.009 percent, he does so by far, far less than the margin science regards as an acceptable cutoff point for the probability of our data mirroring the truth. While this is not the definitive statistical observation of the Florida election, it does compare what science expects from numbers and where the Florida result now stands. There were so many aberrations in the Florida voting procedure, collection and counting that successive recounts are necessary, as a Penn Mathematics professor recently observed. Bias results from inaccuracy in the way the information was obtained. We have to abolish polling procedures with large error margins, such as the butterfly ballot. Absentee ballots should be signed by the voter and dated by the Post Office, or the data will fail to meet the predefined parameters. The results point to systematic error in many respects. More than 19,000 Palm Beach voters punched two holes for president. Buchanan doubled his returns in a Democratic county, yielding a statistical blip that Buchanan himself attributes to voter error. Sworn affidavits from Florida voters affirm voting irregularities. There are thousands of votes that have never been confirmed by hand but were excluded by machine count, possibly diminishing the strength of Bush's slimmest of leads. We may never know unless the courts show their spine. Tremendous comfort comes to weary hearts when someone, anyone, declares that they will lead. Don't quibble, just follow, Bush insists. Lay down your weary heads and sleep. This is, however, the very antithesis of democracy. One cannot simply declare himself president with a number that omits recounts made by an impartial body created for that purpose. We must respect a system of checks and balances. Democracy is laborious and messy. Oligarchy is neat and tidy. Only one is American. "What have you wrought?" someone asked Ben Franklin after the Constitutional Convention. He replied, "a republic, if you can keep it." If we forgo an accurate count, we forfeit our will, our intelligence, and lay bare the secret heart of an undemocratic America.

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