Palm Beach Butterfly Ballot Reportedly Cost Gore

Reuters reported on March 11 that the Palm Beach Post found that the county's controversial butterfly ballot cost Al Gore about 6,600 votes. The now infamous ballot had candidates' names on opposing pages with a row of punch holes in the middle, which confused thousands of Palm Beach County voters. The county is Florida's third most populous, and predominantly Democratic.

The Post conducted a ballot-by-ballot review of 19,125 ballots which had been discarded because they holes for more than one candidate had been punched in them. The investigation determined that 5,330 Palm Beach voters had voted for Gore and Reform Party candidate Pat Buchanan, while 2,908 votee for Gore and that Socialist candidate David McReynolds. The layout of the ballot promoted voter confusion by displaying Gore's name on the left, with Buchanan on the right above Gore, and McReynolds below Gore. Republicans were not immune from the confusion either, with 1,631 people voting for Bush and Buchanan.

The net difference in votes would have benefited Gore by a balance of 6,607 -- easily exceeding Bush's 537-vote margin. Adjusting the totals to allow 1 percent each for Buchanan or McReynolds (which was more than their statewide percentage) would still have left Gore with enough votes to win the state, according to the Post. Gore's former chief of staff, Ron Klain, was reported to have said "What it shows is what we've been saying all along -- there is no question that the majority of people on Election Day believed they left the booth voting for Al Gore." Republican Marc Racicot countered that the Post's conclusions were "speculation."


"Palm Beach Butterfly Ballot Reportedly Cost Gore" Reuters 11 Mar. 2001.