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In the Palm Beach County manual recount, the final outcome may hinge on chad; the tiny portion that is punched out of the paper ballot. Counting machines register the empty hole in the ballot as a vote, but sometimes these tiny pieces of paper stay partially attached to the ballot, in which case the vote may not be registered by the counting machine.

Florida election statutes state that in a recount, the canvassing board should try to discern the intent of the voter when considering questionable ballots, but it does not specify how. It is up to the canvassing board to determine how to count ballots that show an indentation but still have a fully attached chad.

The Palm Beach County guidelines to counting ballots with partially attached chad are as follows:

  • Hanging Door Chad: One corner is still attached to the ballot. (Counted as a vote).
  • Swinging Door Chad: Two corners are still attached to the ballot. (Counted as a vote).
  • Tri Chad: Three corners are still attached to the ballot. (Counted as a vote).
  • Dimpled Chad: Indented but still fully attached to the ballot. (Not counted as a vote).
  • Pregnant Chad: Pierced but still fully attached to the ballot. (Not counted as a vote).
I truly began to appreciate the pettiness (or should that be "need for accuracy") of this whole thing after reading the Sunday Times this week. One article stated that Republicans in Palm Beach County were complaining that a Democrat at the polling-booth had, crime upon crimes, eaten some chad. The general tone of the write-up suggested that this was roughly on a par with eating a baby.

I was having trouble keeping a straight face at this point, but the paper fearlessly dead-panned onwards, featuring an eye-witness account from a Republican. This is almost certainly a paraphrase, but it was on the lines of:

"I was standing next to the booth, and this man came along and distinctly licked his finger and stuck it in the chad, then stuck it in his mouth. There were maybe twenty, thirty pieces stuck to it. I said 'Please don't sir, we're trying to keep them all together.'"

I can see this becoming a new electoral tactic in future ballots of dubious morality. Men casually breezing past chad-bins, surreptitiously dropping in families of gerbils to subvert the vote.

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