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U.S. Presidency for sale

Ronald Hanaki
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With the outcome of the election yet to be decided, TR reader emeritus Ryu Connor sent in this original MSNBC link (no longer there ~ different story) saying that George W. Bush’s campaign was going to court to stop the manual recount in Florida. That was last weekend, and you saw representatives from both campaigns make the rounds on the Sunday morning talk shows. This past week saw a lot of legal wrangling by both sides in their respective bids to win the presidency. On Monday, Bush’s request to block the manual recount was denied. A deadline was set for Tuesday. Then it was Thursday. Friday looked to be a grim day for Vice President Al Gore as Florida’s Secretary of State and Republican appointee Katherine Harris was set to award the state and presidency to George W. Bush. Florida absentee ballots were to come in on the same day. They are counting them now even as I write this. Some votes were rejected on technicalities. Bush leads by several hundred votes, but they’ll be drawing lots in the case of a tie. In the meantime, New Mexico has finally gone for Gore by a mere 481 votes. Bill O’Reilly of “The O’Reilly Factor” on the Fox News Channel was told that the Democrats have the manpower in Florida to “steal” this election. If you can steal the actual voting machine, why not? The Republicans don’t, which may explain why they are taking the “high road” and not asking for recounts in states like Wisconsin, Oregon, and New Mexico where the votes are very close. The Bush campaign suffered some legal setbacks which will prevent Florida from declaring a winner pending legal arguments on Monday. It may turn out that three Democratic counties in Florida will decide who will win the election and presidency. Is it fair that these counties are doing manual recounts and possibly introducing human error into an already controversial process? So much for respecting the system. From O’Reilly’s “Talking Points” for Friday:

Number one The Factor has consistently said that there is no legal reason to hand-count the votes in South Florida. A Florida judge agrees with us and ruled that Secretary of State Katherine Harris has the power to reject those hand counted votes.

But the Florida Supreme Court comprised of seven Democrats wants to examine the judge’s ruling on Monday. So Ms. Harris, who is a Bush supporter, has lost her power to certify the election on Saturday. Got that?

Meantime the overseas ballots from Florida residents are being counted right now. Mr. Bush currently leads Mr. Gore by 333 votes overall. Also the handcounting continues in three Democratic counties in South Florida. As we said, whether those votes are allowed remains to be seen.

Common sense dictates that the law in this case must be followed. The Democrats supervising the hand-counting clearly want Al Gore to win. Ms. Harris clearly wants Governor Bush to win.

But in the end the American people have to be the winners. You simply cannot hand-count votes without a valid legal reason and I have not seen that reason demonstrated and neither has Judge Terry Lewis.

If the three Florida counties are allowed to hand-count then all counties in Florida should be compelled to do so and all counties in America for that matter.

Democrats in South Florida want the hand-recount but they are not legally entitled to it according to Florida law.

So if the Florida Supreme Court disregards the law and allows the hand-recount to be added to the total I believe the federal government will have to step in and overturn the decision. What a mess that will be.

From Bill and Monica to this. The current political soap opera reminds me of the legal jousting between Rambus and DDR with the difference being that Rambus has lost the court of public opinion. Who makes out in the end? The lawyers. Some people were so frustrated by the process that they put the presidency up for sale on eBay. Once they figure out who wins Florida, the spotlight will turn to December 18th when the electors of the Electoral College go to vote “for real.” Although the candidate who won a particular state should get all of that state’s electoral votes, the electors are not under legal obligation to cast their vote one way or the other. With every electoral vote being precious, your one vote as an elector could single-handedly determine who will be the next President of the United States. Think they will be switching votes? One Democratic political consultant is looking into changing some Republican electors’ votes. And if there is an electoral deadlock at 269, it goes to the House of Representatives in January. A new (Republican) House, but no new President. This scenario would favor Bush if the vote goes according to party line. Ultimately, whoever wins will take office under a cloud of suspicion. Saturday marks a different kind of winner take-all system in Florida. Football will be a welcome respite from all of this.

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