Fourth, the movie makes much of a purge list of illegal voters by focusing on the case of a Pastor Whiting who the movie implies was denied his vote by Secretary of State Katherine Harris and the Republicans. But this incident ignores the fact that the law is enforced by counties, not the state. As Recount consultant Jake Tapper reports in his book Down and Dirty (Little, Brown and Co., 2001), some county supervisors chose to use the list, while others ignored it. A memo written by Harris is flashed on the screen. Highlighted in yellow are Harris's instructions about the list. Not highlighted are the words that each county's supervisors make the final decision. Pastor Whiting, who according to Tapper's book did eventually vote that day, lives in Leon County, which is controlled by Democrats who would have made any decision to deny him his vote, not Katherine Harris or the Republicans.
The bottom line is that HBO's Recount is great entertainment about a serious event. Even if Republicans remember the events differently from Democrats, both parties agree that improvement to our system of casting and counting votes is essential. If it takes Recount's Democratic perspective to move in that direction, the country will be better off.
Benjamin Ginsberg, a partner at Patton Boggs LLP, was national counsel to the Bush-Cheney presidential campaigns in 2000 and 2004.