W’s Florida victory legitimate

As if we didn’t know this already:

Since George W. Bush captured Florida and the White House again, critics have fixed their sights on northern pockets of the Sunshine State and asked: How did the Republicans win so heavily in counties stocked with Democrats?

Some wondered whether Florida’s tally was corrupt, with one Internet site writing: “George W. Bush’s vote tallies, especially in the key state of Florida, are so statistically stunning that they border on the unbelievable.”

Last week, The Miami Herald went to see for itself whether Bush’s steamroll through North Florida was legitimate. Picking three counties that fit the conspiracy-theory profile – staunchly Democratic by registration, whoppingly GOP by voting – two reporters counted more than 17,000 ballots over three days.

The conclusion: No conspiracy.

The newspaper’s count of optical-scan ballots in Suwannee, Lafayette and Union counties showed Bush whipping Sen. John Kerry in a swath of Florida where registered Democrats outnumber Republicans 3-1.

The newspaper found minor differences with the official results in each county, most involving a smattering of ballots that had been discarded as unreadable by optical-scan machines but in which reporters thought the voter intent was clear.

Someone alert the conspiracy theorists – break it to them gently, please.

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