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Electile dysfunction

Scott Wasson
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Time for a quick update on the election news, just to make you feel like you can’t get away from it. (And so I can put that headline to good use.)

First and foremost, the recount tally in Florida is still trickling in. Latest totals are here. Bush holds a narrow, narrow lead still. It may be ’til Tuesday before all the counties officially report results, and the overseas ballots won’t be in for another three days beyond that.

Meanwhile, the Gore campaign and its surrogates have decided to be little men about their probable electoral loss. Jesse Jackson and his troops are down in Florida demagoguing for all they’re worth. The likelihood of a gracious Gore concession the event of a Bush victory in the Florida recount seems more remote with each passing hour. (Despite all the bellyaching about difficult-to-use ballots and the rest, both sides ought to play by the rules and honor the results, in my book.)

Other highlights:

  • If Florida remains in dispute after the recount and Democrats won’t concede, we may have Republican demands for recounts in other states where Gore won very narrow margins, including Iowa and Wisconsin.
  • Gore has a narrow lead in the popular vote tally, though neither man has a majority of the vote. With absentee ballots and late counts still coming in, Gore’s lead may narrow or even evaporate.
  • In the Palm Beach County, where the funky butterfly ballots flummoxed the feeble-minded, Buchanan’s vote was inordinately heavy for that part of the state (thanks to Warren M. Griffith for the map illustration). Or was it? Buchanan did well in that county in the past.
  • We may never know that answer, but we know that 19,000 ballots were rejected in Palm Beach County this time because they were double-punched. Of course, in ’96, 15,000 ballots were rejected for the same reason, and turnout was lower then.

  • Finally, a small-R republican sermonette: the Electoral College rules. The U.S.A. is a democratic republic, and the College is a wisely-conceived republican institution that protects against a number of foibles, including vote fraud and regionalized elections that ignore less populous states. It isn’t outdated or ripe for reform. Even the NY Times wants to honor the College’s result.

I have to think that whoever winds up in the White House will face an enormously difficult task, while the other guy ought to turn right around and start prepping for another run in ’04. Losing an election this close is by no means a political kiss of death, so long as one handles it with a modicum of grace.

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