Accountants Won't Count Ballots

Members of the press are being given the opportunity to attempt a recount of ballots in Florida, but accounting firms are steering clear of the whole mess.

Reporters from the Washington Post, the St. Petersburg Times, and other newspapers are preparing to decipher the chads, dimples, and never-to-be-known intentions of Florida's voters. The newspapers hoped they could interest a Big Five accounting firm in helping with the process in order to lend credibility to the count, but so far none have been willing to participate.

The firms are concerned about raising issues of independence because partners in the firm are already registered with party affiliations. "By definition of independence, they could not be considered truly independent in their work on this. If the work was challenged, it could be pointed out that they were respectively registered to one party or another," said KPMG spokesman George Ledwith.

The firm of BDO Seidman has agreed to work with the Miami Herald in a statewide count of uncounted ballots. BDO Seidman this year gave more than $22,000 in political contributions, 80 percent to Democrats, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
The ballot counts will have to be orchestrated with elections officials. Florida law permits independent counts of the ballots, however only the election officials may actually handle the ballots.

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