ELECTION: "I'm with the Bush-Cheney Team: I'm here to stop the vote!"
December 10, 2000 8:48 AM   Subscribe

ELECTION: "I'm with the Bush-Cheney Team: I'm here to stop the vote!" That pretty much says it all for me...
posted by baylink (58 comments total)
 
As opposed to "I'm with the Gore-Lieberman Team: I'm here to change the rules!"
posted by syzygy at 9:25 AM on December 10, 2000


What rule, exactly, are they changing syzygy?
posted by alan at 9:37 AM on December 10, 2000


And the lesser-heard "I'm with the Nader-LaDuke Team: I'm here to piss you off!" :)
posted by pnevares at 9:37 AM on December 10, 2000


When's the deadline again? Do dimpled chads count, or not? Are the canvassing boards' decisions respected, or not?
posted by drothgery at 9:55 AM on December 10, 2000


The problem with your attitude, baylink, is that you don't allow for the possibility that continuing with the recount COULD be the wrong thing to do. And to not allow for that is to be thinking with you political party and not your brain.

I'm not saying it IS wrong in this situation, but to stop your evaluation at "they are trying to stop the recount, they must be evil" is just willfull ignorance.
posted by ericost at 11:12 AM on December 10, 2000


The deadline for recounts mandated by the legislature was changed by the Florida supreme court. Now the same court has again amended the deadline (by ruling that the recount total from Palm Beach must be included in the certified results, even though it came in after the already amended deadline for such recount totals).

Play by the rules that were in place at the time of the contest. If you lose by those rules and proceed to cry and whine, you are nothing but a poor loser.

Beyond the deadlines, different canvassing boards have changed their standards in midstream (in the middle of counting). Broward is an excellent example.

In addition, Gore's team did not object to the guidelines set out by an early Florida court decision which sought to address the issues surrounding the ephemeral pursuit of 'divining' a voter's intent, when those guidelines were released. Instead, they were initially happy with the guidelines, only challenging them after it became clear that counts done under those guidelines might not produce enough votes for Gore to win.

Furthermore, Florida law states that it is up to each individual canvassing board to decide whether or not they will complete a total recount after they have taken a test recount in at least 3 precincts. Miami Dade ran the test recount and the canvassing board voted 2 to 1 to abandon the recount. Leahy, in particular, stated that it appeared that no significant difference would be made in the totals if the counting continued.

Gore's team attempted to circumvent Florida law by having the courts force the Miami Dade canvassing board to finish their recount, even though Florida law makes it clear that that decision is left to the discretion of the board.

syzygy
posted by syzygy at 11:39 AM on December 10, 2000


I find it frankly bizarre that the outcome of the Florida election may be decided by a simple majority of a constituency of nine, none of whom (to my best knowledge) is elegible to vote in that state.

oh, and syzygy: next time a Coke machine spits out your dollar bill, I assume you won't bother going to the kiosk for a manual recount.
posted by holgate at 12:24 PM on December 10, 2000


holgate:

The outcome of the election should be decided by rules for determining such an outcome set out by the state's legislature before the election took place. Federal law (and common sense) make this painfully obvious.

Anything else is an invalid result. If you win a game by changing the rules after the game has been completed you are really a loser, and any unbiased and knowledgeable observer would agree.

Your kiosk/coke machine example makes no sense. Besides, I pay with Austrian Shillings or a smartcard when I buy a Coke from a Coke machine.

syzygy
posted by syzygy at 12:55 PM on December 10, 2000


A quick read of the article in question shows that this was, at worst, a simple misstatement on the part of an overeager Bush attorney. (The statement is logically impossible, for one; you can't stop a vote when no vote is going on.)

More likely, they simply reported unverified - and possibly misheard - hearsay. Note no identification of the person who said this. Or perhaps his quote was cut off, intentionally or otherwise. (How do we know the last word in this guy's statement wasn't "count"? That would invalidate this entire claim.)

In any case, the man was simply doing his job. Your lawyer's job is to fight for you, period, regardless of his own personal beliefs. Note that newly-appointed Legal God Barry Richard, Bush's frontline man, is not only a Democrat, but once served in the Florida State Legislature as a Democrat! He's no right-winger; he's simply doing what he's paid to do, and what he's legally- and morally-bound to do, as an attorney.

Even more importantly, he was relaying a direct order of the Supreme Court of the United States. Certainly baylink is not suggesting we simply start ignoring the Supreme Court when their decisions do not suit us...?

I find it frankly bizarre that the outcome of the Florida election may be decided by a simple majority of a constituency of nine, none of whom (to my best knowledge) is elegible to vote in that state.

In that case, you don't understand the most basic details of the US Constitution. States may not defy federal law. And, of course, the only reason this is ending up at the US Supreme Court is because the Florida Supreme Court got involved in the first place, in ways that are, arguably, wildly unconstitutional under both the federal and Florida state constitutions. And because of all the originating Gore lawsuits from way back when that started the whole ball rolling.

posted by aaron at 12:57 PM on December 10, 2000



Ericost: well, perhaps it's narrowminded, but I'm inclined to agree with the minority opinion: continuing the recounts cannot seem to negatively affect the Bush side, while stopping them does seem capable of ruining the Gore side's chances, in light of the impending deadline.

Syzygy: absconding with 4000 absentee ballot applications illegally is playing by the rules? "Florida law states..." I'm told Florida law *also* states that you invalidate absentee ballots *by county* -- if you have to invalidate any, you have to invalidate every one in the county. Wanna go *there*? :-)

And no, I wasn't suggesting that we ignore the Supremes.

Merely commenting on the fact that the Bush team members seem to be acting, in general, awfully imperially, whereas the Gore team members are going out of their way, mostly, to be humble. Boies' news conference yesterday is a good example.

IMHO.

And could we note that Gore didn't file a single court case until he had no choice, whereas Bush raced to the courthouse, rhetoric blazing...?
posted by baylink at 1:13 PM on December 10, 2000


aaron: I know the constitution (and a fine piece of historical rhetoric it is, too). You appear, though, to have missed my point. The Bush lawyers, in tandem with a Republican-led legislature and executive in Florida, have done all they can to filibuster the legal process in order to create a situation where the presidency may be decided by a 5-4 vote in the Supreme Court: to either side. It should never have reached this point. I only hope that in a 50-50 Senate under Bush, the Dems use precisely those kind of tactics to turn the administration into a lame duck from day one.

Right now, the entire country has been disenfranchised. Almost unwittingly, Nader has been vindicated in his scorn for the two-party system.

(And when the Freepers were talking about cleaning their rifles on Friday night, you really had to wonder.)
posted by holgate at 1:32 PM on December 10, 2000


baylink:

Sure, let's go. I assume you are talking about the Martin and Seminole cases.

Both judges found that the irregularities involved did not "compromise the sanctity of the ballots or the integrity of the election."

There is a standard which states that hypertechnical violations should not be the basis for disregarding otherwise valid votes. This standard was in effect before the election took place and the judges in both cases found that the irregularities were exactly that, hypertechnical violations not sufficient to warrant throwing out the ballots.

As I understand it, the people who were allowed to manually add in the voter identification numbers were the same people who accidentally left those numbers off of the ballot requests when they were initially printed. Doesn't sound too sinister to me.

I still don't like what happened in either county, but IMHO changing deadlines (multiple times), seeking to force a county canvassing board to continue a count when that decision is left to their discretion and adopting new guidelines for 'divining' the intent of the voter after the election (Broward had a policy in place for 'divining' voter intent before the election, used it at first, and then amended it midstream to a policy that produced more votes for Gore) are all more likely to compromise the integrity of the election than allowing a few people to manually correct errors that they had made initially which, if uncorrected, would have meant that thousands of voters would have been unable to cast their votes due to no fault of their own.

syzyzgy
posted by syzygy at 1:47 PM on December 10, 2000


holgate:

I think you have it wrong. The Gore camp, in tandem with the Florida supreme Court have forced this to the US Supreme Court.

They have forced it to the US Supreme Court by amending the rules after the fact. At this point, the issue becomes a federal one, as federal law states that elections are to be determined by rules for determining such elections set in place at the time the elections were held.

It is pretty telling when the Chief Justice of the Florida Supreme Court writes in the dissenting opinion in the latest case that he feels his court's majority opinion will not hold up under the scrutiny of federal law. Perhaps he is colluding with Jeb and the conservative legislature (hint, methinks not).

syzygy
posted by syzygy at 1:56 PM on December 10, 2000


while stopping them does seem capable of ruining the Gore side's chances...

Possibly, though doubtful. Remember when December 12 was the be-all-end-all deadline? Now everyone's saying, "Wellll, maybe it's the 18th." And of course, the SCOFLA could, in theory, demand a slate of Gore electors be dispatched to Washington anytime in the next few weeks, up until the date Congress meets to count the EVs (January 5th, I think?).

Sidenote: the recounts, by some reports, was not going Gore's way at all. MSNBC is reporting that in Miami-Dade County, where Gore was expecting to pick up as many as several thousand votes, the vast majority of the ballots turned out to be intentional nonvotes for any presidential candidate. And of the 142 ballots judged to have been attempted votes, 92 were for Bush and 50 were for Gore. That means Bush is up by 42 votes.

absconding with 4000 absentee ballot applications illegally is playing by the rules?

Nobody "absconded" with anything. The changes were made right in the courthouse, or wherever the applications ended up in the local government system. And we all know it was just a technicality in the first place. Nothing was illegally altered. No actual ballots were compromised. And, of course, two judges, one of whom is known to be quite liberal, ruled in separate cases that it's much ado about nothing.

the Bush team members seem to be acting ... whereas the Gore team members ...

Well, fine, but that's just personal taste. I viewed them the exact opposite way. Again, like I said, lawyers are supposed to be lawyers.

The Bush lawyers, in tandem with a Republican-led legislature and executive in Florida, have done all they can to filibuster the legal process in order to create a situation where the presidency may be decided by a 5-4 vote in the Supreme Court: to either side. It should never have reached this point.

I don't see at all where this is the Bush lawyers' fault, when it's the Gore lawyers that have been doing all the suing in the first place. (The Bush side is countersuing to stop them; there's a difference.) If you want to misinterpret a legitimate defense of these legal attempts to be "filibustering," so be it. And there are so many real questions over the legality of the way all these recounts have been handled - mostly by Democrat-led election boards - that's it's more than a bit dishonest to suggest the Republicans are "filibustering" simply because they refuse to sit back and allow such quite-possibly-illegal activities to continue.

I only hope that in a 50-50 Senate under Bush, the Dems use precisely those kind of tactics to turn the administration into a lame duck from day one.

This isn't going to happen. All that needs to be done is for Bush to offer a cabinet position to a Democratic Senator from a state with a GOP Governor. There's already a lot of speculation that John Breaux of Louisiana will be the guy. And even if it doesn't happen, remember who the president of the Senate is.

(And when the Freepers were talking about cleaning their rifles on Friday night, you really had to wonder.)

Hardly. A subset of Freepers talk about cleaning their rifles every day. What's worrysome - oh, who am I kidding, it's deeply amusing - is that I'm starting to see people on Salon talk about cleaning their rifles. The few that own any, at least.
posted by aaron at 2:14 PM on December 10, 2000



I think you have it wrong. The Gore camp, in tandem with the Florida supreme Court have forced this to the US Supreme Court.

Exactly. Why did it not "create a situation" when the SCOFLA voted 4-3 to "determine the outcome of an election"? A Court which, we should note, is 100% Democrat? (Well, okay, technically one is an independent, but is a liberal, and was appointed by Lawton Chiles.)
posted by aaron at 2:18 PM on December 10, 2000



I can't believe how many people are willing to let votes go uncounted because 1960s-era machines can't count them. Florida law states that votes should be counted if the intent of the voter can be determined. It does not state that votes should be counted only if machines are capable of reading them.

Votes should be counted. That should be the guiding principle here -- what else is more important in a democratic election? Bush supporters believe that arbitrary deadlines are more important than laws that a Republican state legislature passed to ensure the most accurate count in an election.

The only reason anyone is opposed to the Florida Supreme Court's decision on Friday is that a full count of the votes might lead to a Gore victory in Florida. Bush is heading towards the most illegitimate presidential victory in more than 100 years. So much for that whole "restore the honor of the office" thing, eh?
posted by rcade at 2:56 PM on December 10, 2000


rcade:

The less legitimate victory would be one that hinged on after the fact obviation of multiple rules that were in place at the time the contest was held.

I see that you are happy to address the issue of the deadline, but that you skip the other rules that Gore's team has attempted (sometimes successfully) to manipulate. Some deadline for certified results from each county must be enforced. The Florida legislature set such a deadline before the election - before they had any idea how it would affect the outcome of the election. Perhaps this deadline should be extended, but that question should be addressed by the legislature and it should apply to new elections that occur after the rules have been amended.

In addition, there is no guarantee that a manual recount will be more accurate than a machine recount when a group of biased humans is left to 'divine' the intention of voters. (I love that word, 'divine', reminds me of a seance or palm reading session - voodoo mumbo jumbo). As we saw clearly in the Broward county case, the election board dropped their old 'standard of divination' for a new one that favored Al Gore in the middle of counting. And you call results based on such shenanigans accurate? I call them illegitimate.

Nonetheless, let's say you take into account the Broward recount results (even though the canvassing board changed its standards after the election) and the Palm beach recount (even though the Palm Beach canvassing board missed the legally questionable altered deadline). Gore still lost.

Miami Dade, you say? Florida law says that the decision to complete a full recount is left to the discretion of each county's canvassing board after the 3 precinct test is performed. Miami Dade exercised its discretion and decided to curtail the recount (as I mentioned before, at least one of the canvassing board members felt that sample tests indicated that a full recount would not change the outcome of the election).

So, which votes are left to recount? Gore asked for recounts in three counties. Even if the results from the two counties that decided to perform recounts are taken into account, Gore still lost. The last county exercised its discretion and decided not to perform a full recount. It appears to me that Gore really has nothing left to ask for and no grounds on which to ask for it.

Gore lost Florida even when the rules were amended in his favor. What recourse would you suggest?

Gore suggests that the rules continue to be manipulated until either the public is fed up or the results come out in his favor.

Sore loser.

syzygy
posted by syzygy at 3:23 PM on December 10, 2000


Invalid result whoever wins.
Recall the entire damned election.
posted by lagado at 3:53 PM on December 10, 2000


Syzygy: All of the claims you make about Florida law were considered and rejected by the ultimate authority on Florida law -- the state's Supreme Court. The court concluded, and I think rightly, that the most important consideration is for votes to be counted. It's well within the rights of a court to reconcile laws that are in conflict with each other. That doesn't constitute changing the rules -- you should retire that moronic Republican talking point.

In addition, Bush's present lead is built on manual recounts in Republican counties such as Seminole and unpostmarked absentee ballots. The idea that Gore's the only one who might benefit from murky or broken rules in this vote is categorically false.
posted by rcade at 4:00 PM on December 10, 2000


syzygy:

The SCOFLA didn't change the rules, they interpreted the law. There were conflicting statutes; on the one hand there was the deadline, and on the other hand there was the law that allowed hand recounts. It would have been impossible to complete the hand recounts that were allowed by one law in time for the arbitrary deadline that was stated in the other, so they extended the deadline.

I find it ludicrous that Gore wanted a recount only in democratic counties and that Bush wants no recounts at all, as he is ahead... and I don't care how long it takes to find out who really won. All I want is a definitive hand recount, including undervotes (invalidating someone's vote because a machine doesn't function properly?), that clearly states a winner. I don't even care who the winner is as long as every vote has been counted. The partisanship annoys me.

Though I suppose it doesn't really matter who the final winner is, as the margin of error is several hundred times larger than the margin of victory for either candidate.
posted by isildur at 4:20 PM on December 10, 2000


rcade:

Let's make it simple, ok?

Under Florida Election Protests statutes:
Gore loses if recounts from the 3 counties he protested are taken into account.

(note: Broward changed its 'voter intent divination standard' midstream, Palm Beach turned its results in after the legally questionable altered deadline and Miami Dade exercised its discretion to curtail the recount. Even if we accept dubious totals from Broward and twice late totals from Palm Beach, the numbers are still in Bush's favor and Gore has no more recourse under the Protest statutes.)

Under Florida Election Contest statutes:
Gore has no grounds to seek remedy here, as his case does not rise to the standards required by this statute: i.e. fraud or abuse of discretion by the canvassing board that would be likely to change the outcome of the election). Judge Sauls agrees with me, as does the chief justice of the SCOFL, who clearly writes that he does not think his court's majority decision will withstand the scrutiny of federal law. There is a real likelihood that the US SC will agree with me as well, as outlined by Justice Scalia).

So, what remedy under what rule do you propose now? Even after the rules were altered in Gore's favor, he was unable to scrape the votes together that he needed to win. Instead of doing the honourable thing and conceding, he is searching for more modifications to preexisting rules - as many as it takes until he gets the result he wants.

lagado: Ugly result, whoever wins. I say follow the rules and live with the result.

isildur: You have hit upon a key point. The margin of error is much larger than the margin of victory. In my opinion, the honourable thing for Gore to do would be to recognize this and live by the rules that were in place before the election was held. Perhaps neither candidate is much of a legitimate winner, as lagado has suggested.

IMHO, the more legitimate of the two is the one who is determined by the rules that were in place before the contest was held.

syzygy
posted by syzygy at 4:50 PM on December 10, 2000


I believe that the arbitrarily set date after which legitimate votes should no longer be counted is much more of a technicality than illegally filled-out absentee ballot applications.
posted by donkeymon at 5:14 PM on December 10, 2000


donkeyman -

It would appear that the courts do not share your belief.

Nonetheless, as I have stated many times, even if the protest recounts are included in the certified totals, Gore is still the loser.

syzygy
posted by syzygy at 5:30 PM on December 10, 2000


So it is your contention, syzygy, that a vote-count deadline (which seems to be the "rule in place at the time of the contest" that you are referring to) should stand, no matter what errors, frauds, confusions, obfuscations, etc. interfere with a clear understanding of what the legitimate and accurate results of the election are? Bah.

I wish everyone in America would quit with the partisan crap, quit worrying about how to manipulate or interpret the situation and events so that their guy can get in, and just admit the truth: through a long pattern of neglect, inattention, and possibly worse, the system has some major bugs in it.

Florida is probably slightly worse than the average state but it is not all that different from any other. ANY state put under the kind of scrutiny that Florida has been would find about as many problems. And let's not play coy: there ARE problems. How serious they are, who is responsible for them, what solutions are appropriate--these things can be debated. But I cannot see how any sane person could deny that problems exist, at this point.

It seems to me that certain people are getting caught up in a letter of the law/spirit of the law conflict here. What is the fundamental purpose of an election? To quantify and illuminate voter intent. Any specific laws have been enacted to help improve the efficiency and equity of this process. That is why Bush's stance on this whole situation has been so egregiously reprehensible. He has made it very clear that he doesn't care what the election results are; he simply wants to do anything necessary to interpret things in such a way as to put him in the White House.

People may have a knee-jerk negative reaction to the courts in this litigation-mad day and age, but the courts DO have a necessary and important role in matters of law (based, yes, in the Constitution). People who whine that Gore is "trying to win in the courts" or "dragging this out forever" must be either incredibly self-serving or incredibly self-delusional. Does anyone in this country really believe that Bush would not be doing the same thing if the situation were reversed? His team was planning a legal challenge in the much less appropriate (not at all appropriate?) case that the popular/electoral vote would be split in Gore's favor, for Pete's sake!

The fact is, the system has bugs, and the bugs broke this election. We must discover the problems, in Florida and all other states, and fix them before they skew another election, but that won't help this election. I don't see that anything will help this election at this point, not in a truly fair and impartial manner. There is no fair fix, short of a total do-over nationwide, which isn't going to happen, so we are in a position where we must accept a poor and unsatisfactory solution. Let's fix things before it happens again, at least.

Anyway, it's moot now. Four people (out of nearly 300 million) decided who would be President of the United States yesterday. It's a done deal.
posted by rushmc at 6:02 PM on December 10, 2000


rushmc got there before me.

and syzygy: would you accept a challenge to the Republican counties that performed hand recounts on the sly before the original certification deadline? An enquiry into the allegations of roadblocks, polling stations switched at short notice and other "irregularities" in counties with a high proportion of black voters? Charges to be brought against the miscreants in Seminole and Martin counties?

Sudan's having an election next week, between someone who took office in a coup during the 90s, and someone who led a coup in the 80s. Right now, it looks pretty fucking democratic.
posted by holgate at 6:17 PM on December 10, 2000


oh, and aaron: Jesse Helms, Strom Thurmond. Both in states with Democratic governors.
posted by holgate at 6:20 PM on December 10, 2000


This is a damned interesting thread with almost no stupid comments, but I need to add one.

Syzygy, you don't need to sign your name after every single post. Your name is still on the bottom. Example:

jragon
posted by jragon at 6:57 PM on December 10, 2000


rushmc: I have admitted that any outcome of this election will be ugly. I am only arguing the issue as I see it.

It is ugly, it is sad, it is distressing, but what recourse should one take in such a situation, other than that laid out by the law before the contest was held? Would you suggest that subjectively changing the rules after the fact would provide a more legitimate outcome?

As an aside, maybe you should give the aforementioned tactic a shot the next time you lose a hand of 21 in Vegas. Men generally agree that the results of contests are to be determined by the rules for determining said contests before the contests are started.

If you look at my second post, I outlined several changes that were made after the fact.

Also, if there was credible evidence of voter intimidation, I am at a loss as to the fact that the Gore team completely and utterly ignored it in all of their appearances before the courts.

By the way, you are right. The system has bugs. We should work to correct those bugs. But corrections should not be applied retroactively.

holgate:

Of course I would welcome such challenges. The fact that none has been made yet makes me doubt seriously that any credible evidence of such charges exists. If they do, I would be appalled, and I think we can all agree that the Republican party would be, perhaps, irreparably harmed.

jragon:

My apologies. It's an old habit.
posted by syzygy at 7:14 PM on December 10, 2000


Kudos to you, syzygy -- I'm a Democrat, and a stubborn one at that, but I can grudgingly admit that your points make a lot of sense.

At least this whole situation didn't happen with online voting in the equation -- the general public would be confused enough without all this legal talk mixed in with the pitfalls of computer security.

Hopefully this will strengthen the process enough to highlight the importance of very careful implementation of laws and guidelines, whether they be with punch machines or the net based voting of the future.
posted by jragon at 8:01 PM on December 10, 2000


All candidates had a right to challenge machine recounts with a manual recount. Gore decided to excercise his right to a manual recount, which Bush moved to block, creating a court battle. Bush, is, effectively, trying to stifle America’s right to an impartial election.

The Miami-Dade recount decision you quote above was overturned later:

Meanwhile, Miami-Dade County reversed its earlier decision and voted late Friday afternoon to undertake a full manual recount of all ballots there.

One suspects they came to their senses.
posted by capt.crackpipe at 8:22 PM on December 10, 2000


The voters do not pick the winner, the counters do
-Joseph Stalin
posted by Mick at 8:39 PM on December 10, 2000


It is ugly, it is sad, it is distressing, but what recourse should one take in such a situation, other than that laid out by the law before the contest was held? Would you suggest that subjectively changing the rules after the fact would provide a more legitimate outcome?

Clarity is in the eyes of the beholder. You cannot claim in the same breath, syzygy, that there is no legal basis for a recount AND that Gore would lose one anyway. Either the recounts are allowed to continue and we find out one way or another or we engage in what must be for Republicans some very un-Republican subjective speculation.

The position that "opps, sorry, like to help but can't do anything about it this time round -- maybe in four years we'll have better luck" would be fine if we were talking about the local dog-catcher and if there were no remedies. But we aren't and there are. No way, ought the Republicans to get a free ride on this one.
posted by leo at 8:54 PM on December 10, 2000


Just as the loser of a machine count has the right to contest the outcome and request a recount, so too does the winner of the initial count have every right to defend that victory.
posted by netbros at 8:58 PM on December 10, 2000


Just as the loser...

Now that I agree with. It's the claims to a monopoly on objectivity which I find a laugh.
posted by leo at 9:04 PM on December 10, 2000


So why aren't Gore lawyers swarming all over Cheeseland? Because Mr. Gore won there by 5,700 votes. And the fraud trail leads to Gore-Lieberman.
posted by Mick at 9:10 PM on December 10, 2000


As an aside, maybe you should give the aforementioned tactic a shot the next time you lose a hand of 21 in Vegas. Men generally agree that the results of contests are to be determined by the rules for determining said contests before the contests are started.

If you want to compare this to blackjack, Bush is the guy who holds at 18 and sues to prevent the dealer from turning over any more cards, because he might end up with a higher total.

The rules of an election are to count all the votes that can be counted.

So, what remedy under what rule do you propose now?

The remedy is to hand count every vote that the machines were unable to read in Florida, to see if any of them have a clear indication of the voter's intent. This should have happened immediately after Election Day. Florida counties should not be allowed to overlook thousands of votes that their antiquated and unreliable machines could not reliably read.

I think Bush probably wins a hand count of undervotes anyway, because the judges counting Miami-Dade votes on Saturday were unlikely to count pregnant chads as votes, and that's one of the last uncounted Gore strongholds in the state.

However, to me the principle of counting all the votes is more important than the end result. I know it's crazy to favor a system that does not offer a 100 percent guarantee of my candidate winning, but I think there's more at stake here than a single election.
posted by rcade at 9:14 PM on December 10, 2000


What continues to amaze me is how quickly this thing decended into a political brawl. If anything needs fixing, its the politicization of the counting process.
posted by lagado at 9:17 PM on December 10, 2000


I wouldn't have a problem with a recount if dimpled chads were not used to identify voter intent. If dimple chads on an undervote indicate voter intent for a candidate than the same type of dimple on a valid vote, should invalidate it, since it would indicate two votes (one dimpled, one punched through). Allowing dimples should require recounting all votes by hand, not just the ones rejected by the machines. and throwing out any votes with a hole and dimple for the same office.
posted by Poop(*)Head at 10:17 PM on December 10, 2000


Votes should be counted. That should be the guiding principle here -- what else is more important in a democratic election?

What is your opinion, rcade, on the idea of counting the overvotes in Florida? Many of those overvotes are equally due to machine errors. Yet nobody is talking about them, or trying to count them. Also, would you be okay with the Bush team suddenly deciding to sue for recounts in Gore states, such as New Mexico and (I think) Oregon, where the results were almost as close as in Florida, and in which Bush could very well win any Florida-style recount? When you make a blanket statement like "all votes should be counted," even to the extent where doing so violates the law, you have to be for recounts anywhere, in any situation, where the number of questionable ballots outnumbers the margin of victory.

Syzygy: All of the claims you make about Florida law were considered and rejected by the ultimate authority on Florida law -- the state's Supreme Court.

But the SCOFLA is not the ultimate authority on U.S. law. And the SCOTUS believes there's a considerable probability that the actions of the SCOFLA are unconstitutional. We shall see.

The SCOFLA didn't change the rules, they interpreted the law.

This is, as of now, an opinion, not a fact. There is a question of whether they rewrote the law. There is a quesion of whether they based their latest decision on their November 21 ruling, which the SCOTUS threw out pending a legitmate explanation, which the SCOFLA arguably did not give. Most importantly, there is the question of whether SCOFLA directly violated Article 2, Section 1, Clause 2 of the US Constitution, which says the state legistlature is the absolute final authority on the selection of electors. Again, we shall see.

So it is your contention, syzygy, that a vote-count deadline (which seems to be the "rule in place at the time of the contest" that you are referring to) should stand, no matter what errors, frauds, confusions, obfuscations, etc. interfere with a clear understanding of what the legitimate and accurate results of the election are?

YES, absolutely. The precise reason for these legal deadlines, which are in place essentially everywhere, are to ensure a finality to every campaign, given that, as noted here, our voting systems are not 100% accurate. There are errors, frauds, confusions, obfuscations, etc. to some extent in just about every election for every office. Without these laws, every sore loser candidate in the country who missed by less than 5% or so could drag things out till the end of time.

What terrifies me is the extent to which so many people are willing to ignore every law on the books if they inhibit whatever said individual considers to be "counting every vote."

oh, and aaron: Jesse Helms, Strom Thurmond. Both in states with Democratic governors.

Yeah, well, liberals have been praying for that for years. Hasn't happened yet.

All candidates had a right to challenge machine recounts with a manual recount. Gore decided to excercise his right to a manual recount, which Bush moved to block, creating a court battle.

Gore had the right to challenge, yes, and he did, on November 9. And he lost. He then tried to do it again and again, even past the ultimate November 14 deadline. That's where the Bush people stepped in. And despite the Bush team's efforts, Gore managed to get enough time for two more recounts ... both of which Gore lost.

The Miami-Dade recount decision you quote above was overturned later...

No. You cite an article from November 18. The final recount decision in that county was made on November 22.

posted by aaron at 10:31 PM on December 10, 2000



capt: They then overturned the overturned decision on November 27 (I believe). Chronology with no dates:
1. Miami initially decides not to count.
2. They change their minds and decide to count.
3. After a 1% sample, they change their minds, yet again, and decide (finally) not to complete the count.
4. Gore tries to have the court force Miami to complete the count.

leo said: Clarity is in the eyes of the beholder. You cannot claim in the same breath, syzygy, that there is no legal basis for a recount AND that Gore would lose one anyway.

Here is what you are missing. The recount requests in the protest phase were handled according to the law. The resulting vote total changes did not change the outcome of the election.

Beyond that, there is absolutely nothing wrong with pointing out problems with the recounts in one breath and going on to point out that their results would not change the outcome, were they accepted.

Problems with the recounts and the recounts' effects on the outcome of the election are two entirely different subjects and can certainly be treated as such.

Also, perhaps you are missing out on the point that I am speaking (mostly) about two sets of recounts: A. The recounts under the protest action (already completed) B. The potential recounts under the contest action (in limbo).

Maybe you can expound upon my supposed logical disconnect with a little more detail.

rcade: No, I contend that the blackjack hand is over and the loser is contesting the results, complaining that preexisting rules of the game were unfair.
If the preexisting rules allow for a complete handcount in the manner you suggest, perhaps that is a valid remedy. I must say that I dislike the way the Broward recount was handled and that there is a definite potential for activist canvassing boards to allow their biases to affect their counts.
posted by syzygy at 10:39 PM on December 10, 2000


syzygy: Your timeline is almost correct, but your reasons are wrong. Miami-Dade decided to call off the second manual count (which they were in the middle of doing) on the 22nd because they couldn’t make the deadline imposed by the Florida Supremes. Stop, in the naa-me of love. Woah, woah, woah.

I’d like everyone to note that Bush was the first person to file any legal papers. He appealed to halt Gore’s right to a manual recount on the basis that, hey, he won. For all this talk about how the rules work, and changing them in halfway through the contest, it seems to me Bush wanted to end the game before it was finished.

Everyone please note: Both parties are at their lowest, dirtiest, most bi-partisan ridiculous parodies of themselves. Dear god, how can any well-meaning person defend any of them.

Also: go Green.
posted by capt.crackpipe at 11:18 PM on December 10, 2000


capt: you are only partially right. Leahy, one of the three canvassing board members, stated at the time of the vote that one of the primary reasons he was voting against continuing the vote was that the results of the 1% sample did not indicate to him that a completed recount was likely to change the outcome of the election.
posted by syzygy at 11:28 PM on December 10, 2000


Syzygy: Florida election law defines a point at which an election is certified and a procedure that follows certification for challenging the validity of the result. Claiming that this election is already over is blatantly false (and you wouldn't be saying it if the count had continued Sunday and Bush was now trailing).

Your comments show some real misunderstandings about the process of finalizing an election here in Florida. Calling Nov. 14 the "ultimate" deadline is just plain wrong. Certification is only one step in the process. Bush's lawyers even argued that it was wrong for Gore's lawyers to challenge the election before certification had happened, because the designated time for a challenge occurs afterward.

This election isn't final. All this talk about how Bush has already "won", Gore has "lost" and this election is "over" is not borne out by past history -- in 1960, the vote of Hawaii's electors was not resolved until late December. The electors who ended up casting their votes for Kennedy were certified only two days before Congress met to count the votes. It ain't over until Congress counts the votes.

When you make a blanket statement like "all votes should be counted," even to the extent where doing so violates the law, you have to be for recounts anywhere, in any situation, where the number of questionable ballots outnumbers the margin of victory.

I am for that -- and I don't believe for a nanosecond that anyone is counting votes illegally in Florida (aside from the unpostmarked absentee votes that were included in the total).

I believe strongly that throughout the country, many of the machines for counting votes are flawed and unreliable. These vote-counting machines aren't even open source in many states -- here in Florida, we have no way of verifying that the Votomatic is working correctly other than a manual count.

As for overvotes, if two holes are punched there's nothing that can be done to determine the intent of the voter. Dimpled and pregnant chads are a different situation, though. There's no law that prevents them from being considered in Florida and no law that requires them to be considered. The laws here are vague and give the canvassing board huge latitude in judging the intent of a voter. That's inconsistent, but so is a system where voters like me used a mechanical ballot in St. Johns County that rejects invalid ballots at the polling place, where I can correct them with a new ballot, and voters in Palm Beach used a ballot that wasn't put into a machine until after the polls closed, giving voters no chance to discover and correct a flawed ballot.
posted by rcade at 11:29 PM on December 10, 2000


Stop the madness!!!!!!!!
posted by y6y6y6 at 11:33 PM on December 10, 2000


Your comments show some real misunderstandings about the process of finalizing an election here in Florida.

Actually, I have a pretty decent understanding of the process. I have read the statutes from end to end and have followed events pretty closely. I have the added advantage of being in Wien, Österreich, so most of the action happens after work is finished for me. CNN Europe plays it all, and The Economist covers things pretty closely, as well.

The question hinges on whether the contest hearings are de novo. The statutes are vague on this question and case law is sparse.

If contest hearings are not de novo, my version is correct. If they are de novo, yours may be closer to correct.

To me, the statutes seem to lean away from de novo for several reasons, but the answer is not crystal clear and my reading of the statutes is neither completely unbiased nor anywhere close to perfect.
posted by syzygy at 11:52 PM on December 10, 2000


Excuse my ignorance, but as a non-american i am puzzled (as i guess most foreigners are).

How can political appointees be counting votes? Why is there no independent organisation which does the vote counting? Why is there no uniform voting system? Why, oh why, are punch cards still being used in some counties? (i know it is expensive to upgrade)

Also, the republicans seem to be arguing that the counting of only the so-called 'undervotes' is unconsitutional and violates some federal law about every vote being equal. This I don't get. By having the electoral college, a vote in california is 'not equal' to a vote in rhode island. (actually, the rhode island voter would have a higher weighting than a california voter, but this surely makes that vote 'not equal'.). Per the Republican argument, wouldn't this also be unconstitutional? As different ballots are used and different types of machines are used to count votes, wouldn't this likewise be unconstitutional?
posted by jay at 12:17 AM on December 11, 2000


jay:

I believe it is simply because these issues have never really been problems in recent elections. Margins of victory were usually wide enough the recounts would have made no difference, no matter how many ballots were cast out because of old technology or how partisan the officials overseeing manual recounts were.

I believe the Republicans are arguing that every vote within a single state should be equal. Individual votes count on a statewide basis and they should be equal within their state.
posted by syzygy at 12:55 AM on December 11, 2000


...and I think we can all agree that the Republican party would be, perhaps, irreparably harmed.

LOL Worse than they have harmed themselves with the last few candidates they have offered for president?

--A Former Republican (Independent for 12 years now), Repulsed by the Party's Authoritarian, Anti-Humanist Turn into Cluelessness Post-Reagan (some would argue before)

posted by rushmc at 8:08 AM on December 11, 2000


It seems to me that it is a major moral cop-out to say "Yes, I know that the vote results have not been accurately assessed, but it's all a mess, it would be too much trouble, so let's just arbitrarily end the election...HERE." That is both illogical and un-American. It's all about the votes, and we have a responsibility to do the very best job of assessing them that we can.

Of COURSE that should be done with clearly defined and uniform standards across the board. And no, that has not been done in Florida (or anwhere else—where is the standardization in using punch ballots, electronic ballots, hand ballots, and who only knows what else across the country?). That's a problem. But interestingly, that's not a problem that anyone—in the public, in government, or in the media—really wants to focus on. Perhaps it's not as sexy as a mano-a-mano battle between a couple of egotists and their legal legions.
posted by rushmc at 8:15 AM on December 11, 2000


I believe the Republicans are arguing that every vote within a single state should be equal. Individual votes count on a statewide basis and they should be equal within their state.

In which case, every single vote cast in this election is questionable, since they haven't all been counted to a verifiable, objective standard. Your solution, taken to its logical conclusion, means that the Supreme Court should hand count every vote cast in the US.
posted by holgate at 9:04 AM on December 11, 2000


And, now I think on, you can legitimately make the "equal protection" argument against the electoral college, since (as previous posts have mentioned) it means that on a nationwide basis, some states' voters have more influence (and thus, unequal protection) than others. Ahem.
posted by holgate at 11:48 AM on December 11, 2000


And, now I think on, you can legitimately make the "equal protection" argument against the electoral college since (as previous posts have mentioned) it means that on a nationwide basis, some states' voters have more influence (and thus, unequal protection) than others. Ahem.

Except that the Constitution makes no claim that individual voters have any say at all in determining the president. In fact, they ask the state legislatures to decide how to apportion the electors, who then each have one vote for who becomes President. The electors are the ones voting for Presdient, not individuals, and since ultimately (thanks to decisions of each individual state legislature) individual voters are voting for electors rather than President, "equal protection" doesn't apply.
posted by daveadams at 12:43 PM on December 11, 2000


syzygy: As I understand it, the people who were allowed to manually add in the voter identification numbers were the same people who accidentally left those numbers off of the ballot requests when they were initially printed. Doesn't sound too sinister to me.

Well, since those people, not *being the voters* weren't ever supposed to have their hands on those applications in the first place... could we go back to sinister?

And no, I wasn't talking about Seminole and Martin, specifically. I was talking, among other things, about the Miami mayoral election where *all* the AB's were thrown out due to *some* irregularities.

A quick perusal of FS2000 doesn't turn up the section in question; I'll take another look tomorrow for that reference...

aaron: I don't see at all where this is the Bush lawyers' fault, when it's the Gore lawyers that have been doing all the suing in the first place. (The Bush side is countersuing to stop them; there's a difference.) If you want to misinterpret a legitimate defense of these legal attempts to be "filibustering," so be it.

Can I have some of that too? It must be good stuff. :-)

The Bush lawyers were in court more than a week earlier than the Gore team.

And, on the last few messages, re the College: I grokked this the other day, but that comment was at the end of a dying thread. The Electoral College's *precise purpose* is to keep the Federal Governments hands out of State elections. *Every* votable item on that ballot was a state election. All of them.

Even the Presidential race.

Think about it.

That's not an accident; I'll bet cash on it.
posted by baylink at 7:48 PM on December 11, 2000


holgate:

Your 'logical' conclusions do not follow. For instance, one verifiable, objective standard by which all of the Florida votes have been counted is that delivered by the machine counters. Machines don't care who is president. They are merely counting holes in the cards and have no personal bias.

Do you sincerely feel that each vote within the state of Florida would get equal treatment when there is no standard for judging questionable ballots? Do you think this is fair (no matter who wins because of it)?

All three protested counties changed their standards after the election (some more than once). If those standards were changed after the contest in such a way as to ensure that the candidate you wished to win would find fewer votes than he would have with the preexisting standard, would you be upset?

baylink said:
Well, since those people, not *being the voters* weren't ever supposed to have their hands on those applications in the first place... could we go back to sinister?

No, we cannot. It appears that you misunderstand the situation here.

Those people were supposed to have their hands on the ballot applications, only at a different stage of the game (earlier). They (or people they worked for) were responsible for the printing and preparation of the applications and the printing application (computer program) was configured incorrectly so that the ID numbers were accidentally left off of the ballots. The democrat applications did not have the same problem, for the most part (they were printed by the democrats - must have better IT people).

So, by accident, the applications were printed incorrectly. The Republicans who filled in the numbers by hand were adding in information that should have been on the cards in the first place, had the printing application been configured correctly.

If you wish to talk about voter disenfranchisement (I hate that term), talk about disqualifying 25,000 absentee votes because someone configured a printing application incorrectly and went back to correct the resulting erroneous applications by hand after the fact.

This error was no fault of any voters' and if not fixed by hand, would have meant that thousands of voters would have been unable to vote due to no fault of their own.
posted by syzygy at 6:35 AM on December 12, 2000


This error was no fault of any voters' and if not fixed by hand, would have meant that thousands of voters would have been unable to vote due to no fault of their own.

That's not correct -- they would have been able to show up at the polls on Election Day and vote. Absentee voting is not a right; it's a privilege. It is a felony in Florida for someone other than the voter or an immediate family member to fill out their request for an absentee ballot. There was an election in Miami overturned because of fraud involving absentee ballot requests.

The judge in the Seminole County case ruled that the Democratic Party should have asked for the same opportunity to correct invalid absentee requests. However, they would have been asking to commit a felony.
posted by rcade at 8:26 AM on December 12, 2000


We'll clarify a touch more: misconfiguration *of a computer program that wasn't supposed to touch the ballot applications in the first place* is not an excuse, no.

Indeed, as Rogers notes, their filling out those request forms, by computer or by hand, is a state felony. Did you get that this time? It's *ill-eagle* for the party hacks to fill out the request forms. Not just the ballots, the request forms, too.

This being the case, why is it that you continue to defend those republican party employees for being criminals? :-)
posted by baylink at 1:24 PM on December 12, 2000


baylink said:

We'll clarify a touch more: misconfiguration *of a computer program that wasn't supposed to touch the ballot applications in the first place* is not an excuse, no.

That doesn't jibe with what I have read. Perhaps you care to share a link? I will research it a bit more on my end, as well.

rcade said:

That's not correct -- they would have been able to show up at the polls on Election Day and vote.

Not all of them - I am speaking as an expat. It would have been highly infeasible for me to have shown up at the polls on election day.
posted by syzygy at 4:55 AM on December 13, 2000


Here's a story on that case, among other things. Why a lawsuit had to be filed to compel prosecution in a *criminal* case, I haven't had explained to me yet, but the law (FS 101.62(1)b) seems fairly clear. I suspect that those two Republican party officials are not immediate family members of the people involved. If they, and the party, rather than the voters, generated the request forms, then they would appear to have violated the law.

I don't have a pointer to the court case in question, alas.
posted by baylink at 2:54 PM on December 14, 2000


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