Miami — As many as 1,700 Miami-Dade County voters invalidated their presidential ballots because they mistakenly punched the chad immediately below the one corresponding to their preferred candidate, a California re-searcher has found.
Those voters penetrated a meaningless chad one that didn't correspond to any candidate probably because their punch cards were not properly aligned with ballot books in the voting booth, said Anthony Salvanto, a faculty fellow at the University of California at Irvine's political science department.
If the voters' cards had been aligned properly, Salvanto said, Al Gore would have gained 316 more votes than George W. Bush. The findings are the latest evidence that many voters whose ballots showed no presidential preference actually did intend to vote.
The thwarted votes found by Salvanto represent more than 15 percent of Miami-Dade's 10,650 undervotes.
Salvanto and Miami-Dade elections officials believe the voters somehow failed to properly align their ballot cards with the ballot books in the voting booth, leading them to inadvertently punch the wrong chads.
They surmise voter unfamiliarity with the county's punch-card machines might be the cause. Salvanto suggested alternatively that the ballot slots in some voting machines may have been misaligned.
The pattern Salvanto found favored Gore: 1,012 voters punched No. 7, one below Gore's position at No. 6; 696 voters punched No. 5, one spot below Bush's position at No. 4.
Often the pattern was repeated throughout the length of a voter's ballot, Salvanto said. On about 400 ballots, voters punched unassigned holes precisely one spot below those for Democratic candidates for U.S. Senate, commissioner of education and insurance commissioner as well leading Salvanto to conclude that those voters meant to support a straight Democratic ticket.