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Texas Law Allows Voter “Intent″

November 17, 2000

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) _ Texas’ manual recount law permits county officials to determine whether a voter intended to select a particular candidate on a punchcard ballot _ a rule that Gov. George W. Bush has protested in Florida, saying it is subjective.

Texas state law also allows county officials to count ``pregnant chads″ _ part of a punchcard ballot that has an indentation but was not punched all the way through _ as a vote.

Chads are the little bits of paper that are dislodged from punchcard ballots during voting. Indented chads have been at the center of debate between Republican Bush and Democrat Al Gore over manual recounts of the presidential vote in Florida.

The Bush campaign has objected to the manual recounts, saying they lead to election officials having to reinterpret the results of the election and the intentions of voters by subjective, rather than objective, means.

Bush spokesman Dan Bartlett said Friday that the difference in Texas is that the state has uniform election rules statewide, whereas Florida does not.

``We allow for only one recount and we do provide standards for those 14 counties that still use the punchcard ballot,″ Bartlett said.

The rules in Texas have not caused any problems or challenges from candidates, said Anne McGeehan, director of elections at the Texas Secretary of State’s office.

The rules say that in the event of a recount, a ballot may not be counted unless:

_ At least two corners of the chad are detached.

_ Light is visible through the hole.

_ An indentation on the chad from the stylus or other object is present and indicates a clearly ascertainable intent of the voter to vote.

_ The chad reflects by other means a clearly ascertainable intent of the voter to vote.

The rules were adopted in 1993, before Bush took office as governor. Bush signed a law in 1997 that said a manual recount is preferred to an electronic machine recount to decide close elections.

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