The manual vote recounts being insisted on by Democratic operatives
in Palm Beach County, Fla., have been used for over 20 years to steal
elections from Republicans, claim several GOP veterans of hand-recount
According to Bob Haueter, who served as chief of staff for former California Assembly Minority Leader Scott Baugh, and who is an expert on manual recounts, a Democrat lawyer
intimately involved in “stealing” elections from Republicans through
hand recounts admitted to the process and even shared the techniques
After Tuesday’s vote and an automatic recount still left GOP nominee
George W. Bush ahead by a slim 288-vote margin, Palm Beach elections
officials decided that a manual recount of all 425,000 votes should be
“What’s happening in Florida is exactly the game plan laid out to me
by an attorney who represented the Democrats in a recount in California
where they stole a seat from us,” former California Assemblyman Pat
Nolan told WorldNetDaily.
A staunch conservative legislator, Nolan served in the California
Assembly from 1978 until 1994, when he was convicted, along with several
other lawmakers, in a federal corruption probe. After spending a little
over two years in federal prison, he emerged to become president of
Justice Fellowship, the public policy arm of Watergate figure Chuck
Colson’s Prison Fellowship Ministries. For the past four years, Nolan
has worked with Colson — another fallen-but-reformed public figure —
to reform the criminal justice system.
Regarding the 1980 California Assembly race between Republican Adrian
Fondse and Democrat Pat Johnston, Nolan recalled that the Republican won
“by about 54 votes or so.”
But after the election, Democrats “brought in their junkyard dog
lawyers from around the country,” said Nolan, “and basically harassed
the local registrar — got in their faces and demanded to handle
ballots” — which were of the same type now in dispute in Palm Beach.
The same issue of “hanging chads — the little squares in the punch
cards — was also an issue in Stockton,” says Nolan. The Democrats’
strategy, he says, was to handle them as often as possible — perhaps
bending, crinkling or otherwise altering them — so that additional
chads become displaced, thereby disqualifying the ballot.
The result? In the Stockton election, Nolan said Democrats were
successful in getting the vote count reversed from a plus-54 win by
Republicans to a minus-17 loss.
“I vowed that I’d never let that happen again,” Nolan said. “So I
asked my staff to track down the lawyer that headed up the team for the
Haueter was, at that time, chief of staff for Nolan, and it was he
who first contacted attorney Tim Downs, who readily admitted the
Democratic strategy and even described the tactics to Nolan.
“When I first called him and explained to him who I was and why I was
calling, he chuckled and said, ‘I wondered when you guys would get
around to calling me,'” Haueter said, adding that Downs told him —
“‘I’ve taken several seats from you across the United States.'”
“Downs told me, somewhat tongue-in-cheek, ‘You get me within 100
votes and I can steal any election,'” Haueter told WorldNetDaily.
Nolan subsequently hired Downs and “brought him out to train my staff
in the techniques they [Democrats] were using” so they could protect
themselves against future election-fraud victimization, Nolan said.
Nolan and Haueter said Downs described three basic tactics:
- “The first rule is, you keep counting until you’re ahead. And
if that doesn’t put you ahead, you recount, re-recount — you keep
counting until you’re ahead. If you’re behind, then you’ve got nothing
- Second, Nolan said, “the more times those ballots are handled,
the more chance there is that chads will break loose” and hence
disqualify the ballot.
- Third, he said, “the minute you’re ahead, you stop and declare
yourself the victor.”
“After that, you don’t want the ballots handled any more,” Nolan
said, “because some of the chads for your candidate might break loose.
While you’re behind it doesn’t matter, but if you’re ahead and more
break off or become disqualified for your candidate, that’s a bad
A favorite tactic, said Nolan, is to ask election officials for
ballots, “allegedly so they can look at it more closely.” When
operatives do, often they will bend or crinkle ballots covertly in an
effort to break another chad loose and thus have the ballot thrown out.
“This whole process sounds like exactly what is going on in Florida,”
Nolan said. “And the more times those ballots are handled, the more
chances are you’ll break some of them [chads] loose.”
Nolan referred to Fox News’ Tony Snow’s weekend interview with Bush
campaign representative and former Secretary of State James Baker, in
which he asked Baker why — after each time election officials run
ballots through mechanical vote-tally machines — there have been more
votes counted or taken away from both candidates.
“Baker didn’t have an answer to that,” Nolan said. “But the answer
is, because they’ve handled those ballots more times, breaking loose
more of those chads” — those that perhaps weren’t completely punched
“The tactics fit what [Downs] told me back in 1982 and 1983,” Nolan
said, who added that he didn’t know who Downs may have worked with using
these tactics recently.
WorldNetDaily attempted to reach Downs by phone on Sunday, but was
Following a mechanical recount over the weekend, Palm Beach election
officials awarded an additional 36 votes to Gore, while Bush lost three.
“A hand count of four selected precincts turned up enough additional
votes for Gore to prompt the Democratic majority on the county election
commission to order the hand recount in all 531 precincts,” the
Associated Press reported.
Republicans, news accounts said, lodged “strenuous protests” and
pledged to file a lawsuit halting yet another recount of Palm Beach
votes. That hearing is scheduled for today.
Reports said nearly 30,000 ballots have already been rejected in Palm
Beach County because they had two or more holes punched for president,
or because computers could not detect any holes at all. Ballots with two
votes also are rejected in hand counts.
Corroborating Haueter’s and Nolan’s account is a parallel story by
Los Angeles-area political strategist Arnold Steinberg. In a
Review.com piece titled “Beware of Hanging Chads,” Steinberg asks, “Do you know what two words will determine the Presidential election?” The chilling answer, he said: “Hanging chads.”
Steinberg, describing a 1980 congressional race between long-time incumbent, Democrat James C. Corman, and Steinberg’s client, Republican challenger Bobbi Fiedler, recalls how after Fiedler’s upset victory — by a slim margin — over the heavily favored Corman, the Democrats called for a hand recount.
“Democratic Party lawyers and recount specialists descended on the county registrar’s office,” says Steinberg. “Each recount station had a government employee to do the counting, flanked by one Democratic and one Republican observer.
“The Democrats’ agenda was, of course, to change the election result, and they went about it systematically. At their urging, the recounting began with Corman’s strongest precincts, Fiedler’s weakest. Their intention was to recount ballots in those areas until the election outcome was reversed, and then stop the recount. Similarly, today in Florida, the Gore people are demanding hand recounts in their favored counties, where they would be most likely to gain.”
Just as important as the order in which the precincts are recounted, however, is outright ballot tampering, says Steinberg.
“Their hired guns tried lots of tricks on Corman’s behalf, but what I remember most was the hanging chads. A chad is the perforated square (or circle) on the ballot that a voter depresses with a pin to indicate his preferred candidate. The chad hangs from the ballot if the voter didn’t fully depress it — for instance, if an older person did not press firmly enough. This matters because voter machines usually are not able to tabulate cards with hanging chads.
“It often comes down to interpreting the voter’s intention. Does the chad hang ‘strongly’ — i.e, detached only a little — meaning that it is a mistake that should not be counted? Or does it hang loosely — i.e., mostly detached — as an intended vote would be?
“What my lawyers soon discovered was that the opposition would eyeball a disputed ballot before picking it up to officially inspect it. If the hanging chad indicated a vote for Fiedler, the lawyer for the other side picked up the ballot ever so carefully, so he could argue that the voter really never intended to vote for Fiedler. If the hanging chad was a Corman vote, the lawyer picked up the ballot quite vigorously, so that the chad soon was no longer hanging.
“‘You see,’ their guy would declare, ‘that voter obviously intended to vote for Corman.'”
Luckily, says Steinberg, “it didn’t take long to figure out all the opposition’s tricks. I added more lawyers, more observers, and the bad guys eventually caved. Bobbi Fiedler’s victory was preserved. But it was a nasty business.”
Echoing Nolan’s and Haueter’s experience with manual-vote recounts, Steinberg says, “The more things change, the more they stay the same.”