Cover Story

Wells: 'The mind of the beholder'

Issue: "Every law counts," Dec. 23, 2000

"The he majority's decision cannot withstand the scrutiny which will certainly immediately follow under the United States Constitution. My succinct conclusion is that the majority's decision to return this case to the circuit court for a count of the undervotes from either Miami-Dade County or all counties has no foundation in the law of Florida as it existed on November 7, 2000, or at any time until the issuance of this opinion.... "A continuing problem with these manual recounts is their reliability. It only stands to reason that many times a reading of a ballot by a human will be subjective, and the intent gleaned from that ballot is only in the mind of the beholder. This subjective counting is only compounded where no standards exist, or, as in this statewide contest, where there are no statewide standards for determining voter intent by the various canvassing boards, individual judges, or multiple unknown counters who will eventually count these ballots. I must regrettably conclude that the majority ignores the magnitude of its decision. "To me, it is inescapable that there is no practical way for the contest to continue for the good of this country and state."

-From Florida Chief Justice Charles Wells's Dec. 8 dissenting opinion against the Florida Supreme Court's ruling that ordered manual recounts

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