From the Archives: Dan’s Papers, November 2000

As this is being written, the election officials in the County of Palm Beach, Florida are looking at each and every ballot, holding it up to the light to see if they can determine which punch hole the citizen intended to punch out.

Some of the holes are cleanly punched, and so the intention is clear, while others have bits of paper from the punch out still attached to the holes. The officials have decided that if these bits of paper, called chads, are hanging, which means they are barely still attached then the vote counts, if they are swinging like doors on a hinge the vote counts, if they are tri-chads which means they are still attached on three sides but not on a fourth, they count, and if they are just swollen out but still attached on all four sides—they are called pregnant chads—then they do not count.
The officials have declared their policy to be the “Sunshine Rule.” If you can see daylight when you hold it up to the light, then the citizen gets to have his vote counted.

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Some of the write-in votes have gone astray. Brian and Helle Kain, looking in their mailbox in Odense, Denmark, found an envelope, which contained some information about navigation charts available to purchase by mail. Brian had sent away for them. Also in the envelope, though were two filled out write-in ballots for the Presidential election from the Town of Bellevue, in the State of Washington. They were marked OFFICIAL BALLOT. DO NOT DELAY. The Kains sent the ballots to the American Embassy in Copenhagen by next day mail, which sent them off to the State of Washington in the embassy pouch.

Both write-ins were for George W. Bush. Meanwhile, in the Persian Gulf, three sacks of filled out write-in envelopes from three different American Navy ships, have been found, six days after the election—in the mail rooms aboard the USS Duluth, the USS Anchorage and the USS Tarawa. These ships, part of our fleet, had been dispatched to Yemen to assist the USS Cole, which had been disabled by a terrorists bomb two weeks ago.

The votes are from sailors on board, 3,000 of them, and were supposed to have been sent stateside, but were forgotten in the mission to help the USS Cole.

The three sacks were rushed to a nearby airport and put on a cargo plane bound for the States where they were handed over to the United States Postal Service for distribution by regular mail. This was on Monday. Whether those going to the pivotal state of Florida get there before the Friday deadline for write-ins is unknown.

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