The study, commissioned by USA Today, The Miami Herald and Knight Ridder Newspapers, shows Gore would have gained just 49 net votes if the most lenient standards were used. If not, the study says, Gore may have lost ground in a recount.
The study, conducted by the accounting firm of BDO Seidman, counted even faintly dimpled “undervotes” — ballots the voter has noticeably indented but not punched all the way through. According to the USA Today report, the firm said a more stringent standard could have meant a gain in votes for Republican George W. Bush.
Some Democrats had hoped that a hand recount would have allowed Gore could have won the 2000 presidential election. Estimates for Gore’s gain in Miami-Dade County went as high as 600 votes, enough to overcome then-Governor Bush’s 537-vote margin statewide.
On Dec. 8, the Florida Supreme Court had ordered a hand recount of the ballots that didn’t register a vote for president in the original machine tally. But the U.S. Supreme Court stopped the hand count just days later. On Dec. 13, Gore announced he was ending his legal challenge to the election and conceded defeat.
BDO Seidman will continue counting all 60,000 undervotes registered in Florida’s 67 counties. The USA Today report says complete statewide results are expected within weeks.