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Hungry? Just don't eat the chad, please

By WES ALLISON

© St. Petersburg Times, published November 19, 2000


As 10 hours of manual recounting ended Saturday in heavily Democratic Broward County, Republican supporters of George W. Bush trotted out proof that the Democrats are cheating:

One of them allegedly ate some chad.

Jim Rowland, a Republican observer in the Broward recount, said he was guarding his team's ballots during a lunch break Friday when a Democratic floor worker stopped by.

The man asked about a small pile of paper chad that had fallen from the ballots, and Rowland told him he was trying to keep them together.

He claims the floor worker then licked his finger and stuck it into the pile of chad. Some stuck, and he slipped his finger in his mouth and ate them.

"I said, "Please don't, sir, we're trying to keep them all together,' " Rowland said. "We wanted to know how many there were, and have a record of them, rather than throw them away."

The Democrat then told him the chad weren't property of the Republican Party, and swept them off the table and into his pants pocket, Rowland said.

He said he couldn't get the man's name, but described him as "kind of heavy-set" with a black sport coat and a gap between his front two teeth. He couldn't spot him on the floor late Saturday.

"I don't know how many went into his mouth and how many went into his pocket, but they were all gone when he was finished," Rowland said.

Rowland, incidentally, lives in Washington, D.C., where he is a legal counsel for U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback, the Kansas Republican who replaced former GOP presidential candidate Bob Dole. He said he is volunteering for the recount.

Democratic leaders in Broward, believe it or not, said they had heard Rowland's story before. "Would you like some sauce with those chad?" sniped state Sen.-elect Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Westin.

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