Ever so carefully (of course), the NYT is less than enthusiastic about Gore's edging towards a courtroom solution

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November 10, 2000


Vice President Al Gore has escalated the atmosphere of combat surrounding the presidential election results with his decision to go to court in Florida. What began on Wednesday as a complaint that the ballot in Palm Beach County was confusing was transformed yesterday into a claim that it was illegal. Of course Mr. Gore has a right as a private citizen to take his grievances to court. But he and Gov. George W. Bush are also political figures seeking the world's most important leadership position. Part of the test of presidential leadership, it seems to us, is finding a way to resolve electoral matters in the political arena.

Given that, it is worrying that Mr. Gore and a legal team led by Warren Christopher, the former secretary of state, would announce their support for a lawsuit while the mandatory recount is still going on and while seven days remain for the arrival of overseas absentee ballots. It is doubly worrying that some Gore associates are using the language of constitutional crisis and talking of efforts to block or cloud the vote of the Electoral College on Dec. 18 and of dragging out the legal battle into January. The CNN political commentator Bill Schneider picked apt language when he spoke of the "treacherous path" that would-be leaders choose when they talk of unraveling the finality of elections.

Fortunately, given the Gore campaign's rush to litigation, there is a time window for both political and legal combat. The deadline for absentee ballots is next Friday. Now that the matter is being put before the courts, Florida authorities should make every effort to use this period to try to secure a decision as to whether state law really was violated by the ballot confusion in Palm Beach County. To be sure, the complaints from the Democrats about a ballot used in that county that evidently confused many voters, causing them to vote by mistake for Patrick Buchanan when they intended to vote for Mr. Gore, need to be taken seriously. So does the question of whether 19,000 ballots disqualified for double-punching resulted from the same confusion over the ballot. The Bush campaign notes that almost 15,000 double-punched ballots were tossed out in Palm Beach County in 1996 and that 143,000 were dismissed statewide in that year. This suggests that ballot confusion is far too common a feature of Florida elections.

It does not, however, seal the case that such lapses should be a reason for a protracted legal challenge that paralyzes the succession process, undermines the finality of presidential elections and makes nervous a world that looks to the United States as a model of political stability. Neither the prospect of legal warfare nor Mr. Bush's rush to put together a transition team is helpful at this point.

One way or another, Republicans and Democrats alike should look toward the earliest possible date for recognizing the legitimacy of one winner in this election. They should not be laying plans that undermine an orderly and honest transition to a new presidency or set damaging precedents for future elections.

We take very seriously the fairness issues raised by the ballot confusion in Palm Beach County and understand the public frustration or even outrage attendant upon the possibility of having the popular will thwarted by procedural errors, especially when a presidential outcome hangs in the balance. The problem is that potential remedies, such as a new election in Palm Beach County, seem politically unsound and legally questionable. The sad reality is that ballot disputes and imperfections are a feature of every election. It will poison the political atmosphere if presidential elections, in particular, come to be seen as merely a starting point for litigation.

Presidential candidates have legal rights that are no stronger or weaker than those of any citizen. But they have an extra measure of responsibility to assure that their actions serve the broad national interest. Both Mr. Gore and Mr. Bush need to be asking themselves whether a scorched-earth legal strategy meets that standard.

-- Lars (lars@indy.net), November 10, 2000


NYT Editorial, 11/10/00

-- Lars (lars@indy.net), November 10, 2000.

A traditionally right-wing rag is "less than enthusiastic" about seeing justice prevail for the American people. This suprises you??

-- bwahahaa (gimme@a.break), November 10, 2000.

bwaaa, you're a idiot.

Lars, good post. I find these words poignant, "It does not, however, seal the case that such lapses should be a reason for a protracted legal challenge that paralyzes the succession process, undermines the finality of presidential elections and makes nervous a world that looks to the United States as a model of political stability." The world is watching.

But strongly disagree with Bush's "rush to put together a transition team". I think he should act to start those kinds of discussions.

-- Maria (anon@ymous.com), November 10, 2000.

For what it is worth, this was taken from the CNN Forum:

Mary Matalin reports that she called a poll official in Florida who indicated that the so called 19,000 double punched cards were actually discarded when the people who double punched realized it.............and re-did their cards.


This may turn out to be a tempest in a teapot just like the "GASP - voter fraud" incident of the ballot box that turned out to be nothing but supplies.

-- Nadine (nadine@hillsboro.net), November 10, 2000.

The 19,000 votes that were really votes just reaffirms the fact that Jesse Jackson is an ass.

-- ~~~~~~ (~~~~~~~~~@~~~~~~.com), November 10, 2000.

Maria, you're a dumb cunt.

-- bwahahaa (maria@horse's.ass), November 10, 2000.

I hope Bush ultimately wins just so I can watch bwahahaa (aka Hawk) blow a gasket. >:-D

-- bwahahaa is an idiot (xxx@xxx.xxx), November 10, 2000.

Be careful what you say to Hawk.

He is a martial artist in the "Gae Fucshu" school of eastern fighting techniques. He is also a bounty hunter, that is, he is a bounty hunter after he has finished his math homework. But after he has finished his math homework and washed behind his ears, he is a dangerous dude. Beware.

-- Uncle Deedah (unkeed@yahoo.com), November 10, 2000.

I heard he was a BOOTY hunter---male booty.

-- (nemesis@awol.com), November 10, 2000.

bwwwaaaa was also used by another famous poster, anyone remember who?

-- (shh@aol.com), November 10, 2000.

yeah, I'm back so watch your ass

-- (ladylogic46@aol.com), November 10, 2000.

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