A review of 10,644 uncounted ballots in Miami-Dade County showed Al Gore would not have gained enough votes to overtake George W Bush in Florida, a newspaper claims.
Mr Gore would have gained no more than 49 votes in Miami-Dade, The Miami Herald reports.
When combined with Mr Gore's gains in Broward, Palm Beach, and Volusia counties, he would have not have overcome the Bush lead.
The four counties used punchcard ballots, which state politicians are considering eliminating in favour of optical scanning equipment for the 2002 election in all 67 Florida counties.
The review, sponsored by the newspaper, its parent company Knight Ridder and USA Today, studied undervotes, or ballots where machines were unable to read votes for president.
"There were many people who expected there was a bonanza of votes here for Al Gore, and it turns out there was not," said Herald executive editor Martin Baron.
The newspaper found that 1,555 Miami-Dade ballots were marked in a manner that might be interpreted as a vote for Gore.
An additional 1,506 bore some kind of marking that might be interpreted as a vote for Bush. There were 106 markings for other candidates.
Republicans said the Herald's results indicated that Mr Bush was always the legitimate winner.
"President Bush was lawfully elected on Election Day.
He won after the first statewide machine recount," said Mark Wallace, a Miami lawyer for the Republican Party.
"He won after the manual recount, and he won at the conclusion of all the litigation."
Democrats said the review shows neither side could have known how the recounts would turn out.
Doug Hattaway, former Gore campaign spokesman, said: "This underscores how unpredictable the whole recount strategy was, on both sides".