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Media to Count Florida Ballots

The Associated Press, CNN, The New York Times, Tribune Publishing, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post and two Florida newspapers, the Palm Beach Post and the St. Petersburg Times, hired the National Opinion Research Center, a non-profit survey research firm, to examine an estimated 180,000 ballots from across the state. These disputed ballots include those that were double-punched or didn’t register a vote for president during machine counts.

The research firm will not attempt to determine whether an uncounted ballot contains a vote, but will instead produce a database containing detailed descriptions of the ballots’ distinguishing marks.

Following the coutn, the news organizations say they will release the data to the public and produce their own stories based on the information.

Journalists from the various media organizations footing the bill for the research will oversee the firm’s work. The price tag for the review is expected to total more than $500,000.

The organizations involved in the effort say the results will be worth the cost.

“Because of the unique circumstances of the 2000 presidential election, [The Associated Press] believes that the most accurate possible inspection of the disputed Florida ballots is a highly worthwhile effort that will be of great interest to our members and the public,” said Jonathan Wolman, executive editor of the AP.

Meanwhile, The Miami Herald has its own separate counting effort underway. Working with an accounting firm, the newspaper is reviewing nearly 60,000 “undervotes.”