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THE MIAMI HERALD REPORT: Democracy Held Hostage

Martin Merzer, Author, Miami Herald, Joint Author
Martin Merzer, Author, Miami Herald, Joint Author and the Staff of the Miami Herald. St. Martin's $24.95 (302p) ISBN 978-0-312-28452-7
Open Ebook - 352 pages - 978-1-4299-7796-8
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There's no smoking gun in the Herald's investigation into the 2000 presidential election morass, but there's a lot of ammunition. The newspaper's examination of the chaos in Florida will please partisans on both sides, as well as those looking for a little irony: Republicans will likely point to the finding that had Florida adopted the least stringent standard—as the Gore camp wanted—George W. Bush would have won; Democrats will note that if only the most cleanly punched ballots been counted—as the Republicans pushed for—Gore would have triumphed. Even though the desire to recount prompted this study, the book's strength lies in its profiles of the personalities that flooded our TV sets after the election. Theresa LePore—Palm Beach County supervisor of elections who designed the "butterfly ballot" that confounded so many voters—comes across as a victim of circumstances and a frenzied media; Secretary of State Katherine Harris is depicted as a wealthy crusader who cast the Bush-Gore battle in religious terms and compared herself to Queen Esther. Some of what is reported here is not new—the previous failures of the punch card system, the failure of detailed instructions to get through to election workers, the accusations of civil rights abuses—but it's told vividly and serves as a useful roundup to those who couldn't stomach following the blow by blow of the postelection campaign. And the commonsense recommendations that Florida and other states jettison the punch-card system in favor of newer (albeit imperfect) systems is difficult to argue with. (June)

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