THE WAR BETWEEN THE CANDIDATES
It isn't very often that a person can say with certainty he voted in an election that will be a chapter in the history books for 100 years, 500 years or as long as this Republic endures. But that's true of the vote for our 43rd President [ELECTION 2000, Dec. 4]. It's pretty heady stuff! HERB LAFAIR Santa Monica, Calif.
I am for every vote's counting. I am not sure, however, that every ballot is a genuine vote. The canvassing boards were put in the position of determining whether a hole was punched out or not. If you and I actually think votes don't count, we are less likely to vote. It seems as if many people believe that, or voter turnout would have been greater. DONNIE McLEMORE Round Rock, Texas
Systematic errors in machine reading of ballots almost universally result in undercounting. They occur, for example, when a chad does not separate from the ballot card or when a mark on an optically scanned form is too faint. Manual counting in precincts that use machine voting thus increases the number of votes tabulated for both parties. Machines do not favor one candidate or the other, and the percentage of votes obtained by each party usually remains the same after a fair manual recount--unless extra ballots turn up. A manual recount using different standards to decide voter intention can be exceedingly unfair. We should avoid manual recounts or insist that they have uniform standards in all precincts. JOHN S. NISBET State College, Pa.
This election has shown up so many critical weaknesses in the American electoral system--inconsistent voting procedures from state to state, early declarations of the winner and partisanship of breathtaking proportions. Surely a set of statutory rules about the counting and recounting of votes could have saved the U.S. all this embarrassment. The new President must ensure that America never again faces this sorry situation. NEIL ROXBURGH London
In his report "Mob Scene In Miami," about the Republican-backed protests against recounts [ELECTION 2000, Dec. 4], your writer Tim Padgett attempted to make a story where there was none. The whole article had an indignant tone, castigating the G.O.P. for orchestrating a protest. As if demonstrations aren't always staged. Get over your sanctimony. Parties organize--that's their purpose. NICK SLEPKO Seattle
The facts are that no one was arrested after the lawful protest in Miami, no one was injured, and at least one member of the canvassing board has denied that the board felt intimidated. No complaints were made to the police who had no trouble holding back the "screaming" Republicans. They must have been menacing indeed in their khakis and penny loafers. DAVID W. TOWNE East Lansing, Mich.
Does anyone, anywhere, truly believe that if the positions of the two candidates were reversed, these same G.O.P. protesters would not be arguing for additional hand counts with the same vigor with which they protested the recounts? JOE CONDO Chicago
ORDER IN THE COURTS