Recently my wife and I were staying with a ranching couple from California. Aside from owning roughly 3,500 acres spread between California and Oregon, they didn't seem to be all that unique. But, as stories rolled out their part played in recent American history became clear.
In addition to being ranchers, this couple also prints voting ballots. And have been printing them for almost 30 years. I knew someone must have printed ballots, I just didn't know anyone who did...until now.
As it turns out, there are numerous types of ballots. I'll save you from the details here since it's too complex to recall or record. But one type will likely remain infamous for it's role in the 2000 presidential election. As you may recall, this type required the voter to remove a small perforated bit of paper known as a "chad".
The controversy occurred in Florida. The issue was linked to chads that had not been completely removed from the ballot. Each chad is attached by four corners. If one corner was broken this was deemed a mistake. If two or three corners were broken it was considered a clear vote. Are you confused yet?
Back to our ranching couple. Since he had provided ballots to much of the USA during this time and because of his expertise he was subpoenaed during the Florida court cases. His testimony made it clear that a chad-style ballot is counted when the tabulating machines can see light through the space the chad occupied. Even if three of the four corners were broken the chad could still remain in place, thus not registering a vote.
Ultimately, the election came down to just a few hundred votes and a court decision. The players included two presidential candidates, the State of Florida, the Florida Secretary of State, the Florida Division of Elections, the Florida counties of Volusia, Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade and the Supreme Court of the United States of America...and a California rancher who just happens to be a ballot expert.
And that is how George W. Bush became President George W. Bush.
—Blake Williams · Executive Director