In a 4-3 decision the day before, the Florida Supreme Court ordered supervisors of elections to start counting so-called undervotes by hand. It put a circuit court judge in Leon County in charge of overseeing the unprecedented undertaking.
The ruling applied to counties that had not already conducted a manual recount. It also ordered the Secretary of States office to accept the result of hand recounts in Palm Beach County and 139 precincts in Miami-Dade, adding them to the already certified hand counts from Broward and Volusia counties. That immediately knocked more than 300 votes off George W. Bushs already slim lead taking it down to 195 votes.
The review of undervotes was to begin that Saturday morning everywhere but Broward, Volusia and Palm Beach counties. Miami-Dades remaining undervotes were being counted in Leon County, where the ballots had been trucked during the court dispute.
In some places, the work went quickly. Canvassing boards in Escambia, Liberty, Madison and Manatee counties finished by early afternoon, and, while the valid votes they uncovered were never made part of the certified total, they are counted here. In other counties, the work never started -- Gadsden, Hamilton, Lafayette and Union counties refused the courts order to look at their undervoted ballots again.
In the rest of the state, the process was short-circuited at about 3 p.m. when the U.S. Supreme Court intervened and ordered a halt. It never restarted.
But to find out what might have happened that day if the count went on, reporters interviewed canvassing board members across the state. The standards they intended to use that day for finding valid votes were then applied to the ballots reviewed and categorized by the National Opinion Research Center. Votes are considered potentially valid where two of the three NORC coders agreed on what they saw on the ballot, based on the individual county standards for undervotes. Nine counties also intended to review overvoted ballots to find those cases where a voter essentially voted for the same candidate twice, rather than invalidating their ballot. The review on these pages takes into account overvotes in only those counties that intended to review them on Dec. 9.
A recount glossary
Datavote: A punch card voting system which produced comparatively few undervotes or overvotes in DeSoto, Dixie, Gilchrist, Glades, Hardee, Jefferson, Madison, Nassau and Wakulla counties.
Lever machines: Old-fashioned voting technology in which the voter pulls a lever next to the name of the candidate they choose and their vote is recorded. Used only in Martin County.
Optical scan: A voting system used in 41 Florida counties in which voters fill in a bubble next to the name of their selection, or complete part of an arrow pointing at their selection. The paper ballots are then tabulated either at the precinct or in a central location by machines that read the marks placed on the ballot by voters.
Overvote: A ballot on which a machine or hand count recognized votes for two or more of the presidential candidates, thereby invalidating the ballot.
Paper ballots: Ballots on which voters mark their choices using pen or pencil on a ballot which is then counted by hand. Used only in Union County.
Undervote: A ballot on which no vote for any presidential candidate was recognized either by a machine count or a hand count.
Votomatic: The punch card system used in Broward, Collier, Miami-Dade, Duval, Highlands, Hillsborough, Indian River, Lee, Marion, Osceola, Palm Beach, Pasco, Pinellas, Sarasota and Sumter counties.