SORE LOSING/LOSER TEAM GORE DEFENDING MILITARY-BALLOT CHALLENGEgreenspun.com : LUSENET : TB2K spinoff uncensored : One Thread
TEAM GORE DEFENDING MILITARY-BALLOT CHALLENGE Monday,November 20,2000
BY DEBORAH ORIN AND VINCENT MORRIS
Al Gore's team took a hard line on Florida military overseas ballots yesterday and refused to withdraw Democratic challenges that got the votes of hundreds of U.S. troops tossed out - many over technicalities.
"No. All the vote-counting should be done according to the law," said Gore spokesman Doug Hattaway after about 1,400 overseas ballots were rejected, mostly in Democrat-controlled counties.
The overseas ballots had been expected to go for George W. Bush, and those that did get counted went nearly 2-1 for Bush - more than tripling his lead over Gore from 300 to 930 votes.
Hattaway's tough talk came just hours after Democratic veep wannabe Joe Lieberman - hammered about the military ballots on five Sunday talk shows - said maybe the vote-challengers ought to "take another look."
But Lieberman, who never served in the military, also hedged that "I don't know enough about the law" to say that the Democratic challenges to overseas military ballots should be withdrawn.
Lieberman also suggested that protests about challenged military ballots from Gulf War leader Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf reflect the fact that the general "is clearly for Gov. Bush."
Many military ballots arrived without a postmark, which is often true of military mail, and were challenged on that basis - after Democrats sent out a memo on challenging ballots that focused on postmarks.
Angry protests from Republicans mounted, and even President Clinton's Pentagon chief, William Cohen, voiced concern that troops overseas were kept from voting on technicalities.
"The last thing we want to do is make it harder for those wearing our uniform and serving overseas to be able to cast a ballot," Cohen said.
Ex-Sen. Bob Dole, a decorated World War II veteran, said the Gore-Lieberman camp should show its good faith by issuing a statement calling on all sides to "make every effort" to count the military ballots.
"You ask these young men and women to serve, you don't pay 'em enough, some live on food stamps, and they have a right to vote," fumed Dole.
Dole questioned why Team Gore challenged military ballots that U.S. troops clearly intended to cast while at the same time hunting for "a dimple or pimple or rimple or whatever it is" to validate machine-rejected ballots.
On other subjects, Lieberman repeatedly refused to say whether he and Gore would drop their legal challenges if the Florida Supreme Court rules today that Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris can call the election for Bush without waiting for controversial hand recounts.
"That's not for me to say today. I think every option remains on the table," Lieberman said.
[A HREF="http://www.newyorkpost.com/news/16406.htm">TEAM GORE DEFENDING MILITARY-BALLOT CHALLENGE
-- Ain't Gonna Happen (Not Here Not@ever.com), November 21, 2000
TEAM GORE DEFENDING MILITARY-BALLOT CHALLENGE
-- Ain't Gonna Happen (Not Here Not@ever.com), November 21, 2000.
Why should the Democrats stop screwing the military now??
-- Deano (firstname.lastname@example.org), November 21, 2000.
Saturday, November 18 -- Since Election Day, George W. Bush has kept the goal posts moving continually back and forth to prevent Florida's southern, mostly Democratic, counties from hand counting their ballots until they were too late to be added to the certified total. But lost among the Bush camp's legal and rhetorical objections to hand counting is this small fact: since the Fateful Day, Bush has benefitted from hand counts in other counties, hand counts that have secured his lead by margins that began at 1784 and reportedly went as low as 225 votes before rising again in recent days with the arrival of more absentee ballots. On the basis of those slim and changing margins, the nation's pundits called upon Al Gore to concede, even in the face of widely reported voting irregularities that involve tens of thousands of ballots. For example, the Orlando Sentinel reported that over 180,000 ballots had been kicked out of Florida's computerized counting machines, indicating they had some sort of problem and went uncounted toward the final result.
Adding to questions about the vote total of Florida's sixty-seven counties certified by the Secretary of State Katherine Harris on Tuesday, November 14, the Washington Post reported intriguing news, without explanation, that eleven counties did not do the machine recount last week that is mandated by law in close elections.
Harris's November 14 tally officially gave George W.Bush a 300-vote lead. The next day, Harris, a co-chair of the Bush-Cheney campaign in Florida, said that, exercising her legally sanctioned "discretion," she would not allow hand-counted votes from the southern counties to be added to the certified total, and would add to the tally only those absentee ballots received after Election Day. She also issued her opinion, further confusing local election officials, that absentee ballots did not have to be post-marked on or before Election Day, November 7.
Bush spokeswoman Karen Hughes last Tuesday accused the Democratic counties of "no longer counting ballots. They are 'reinventing' them," she said, a comment seemingly aimed to again raise doubts about Gore's character and alleged exaggerations, a story that got legs earlier in the election thanks to shoddy media reporting and misquotes.
For days, George W. Bush's consigliere, James Baker III, has said that hand-counted votes present "tremendous opportunities for human error and ... mischief." Baker accused the hand counters of "subjective" attempts to "divine the intent of the voter," thereby denigrating the whole hand-counting process -- the time-honored gold standard for deciding close elections. Democrats have called Baker's statements hypocritical, pointing out that six mostly Republican counties have partially hand counted their ballots and found 418 additional votes for Bush. (Those counties are: Franklin, Hamilton, Seminole, Washington, Taylor, and Lafayette.)
So where in all this flurry is there any media discussion of hand- counted ballots for Bush versus hand-counted ballots for Gore? If hand-counted votes are so suspect, Democrats say, why not remove them from Bush's count? The answer, of course, is that doing so would have put Gore ahead.
Baker's Democratic counterpart, former Secretary of State Warren Christopher, said in a news conference Thursday that the fact that "Republicans have hand counted in many of the counties themselves" belies Republican charges that "we have picked out a certain few counties" thought to hold promise for a Gore victory.
When a reporter asked Bush spokeswoman Karen Hughes if Bush would accept his hand-counted votes, she did not respond, and ended the press conference. Likewise, on Wednesday Baker avoided a reporter's question about the Bush hand-count tally saying, "Some hand-counting was done from which we benefited," whereupon he also ended his press conference.
In fact, Bush has accepted those 418 hand-counted votes as part of his total, as well as 143 hand-counted votes from Volusia County, and probably many others tallied before Secretary of State Harris's deadline.
But despite much hand wringing from the punditocracy over the hand recounts in strongly Democratic counties, there have been few reports in the major media about the manual recounts in Republican-dominated counties and how they were conducted.
Meanwhile, Bush is blaming Gore for delaying the final vote count, and hoping the American people will, too. But Bush lawsuits and challenges to hand counting are responsible for most of the delays.
In Gadsden County, where Gore's hand-counted total exceeded Bush's, Republicans complained loudly about the result. On Thursday, Bush lawyers in Tallahassee argued that since Broward, Palm Beach, and Miami-Dade counties had not submitted their manual recounts by 5 p.m. on November 14, as ordered by Harris, they no longer had the right to do so. Bush also went to federal court to stop hand counting. Failing there he appealed to the conservative 11th Federal District Court of Appeals in Atlanta, which, on Friday, rejected the appeal. On Tuesday the 14th, Secretary Harris issued an edict ordering the hand-counters to cease, which was quickly overruled by Florida Attorney General Bob Butterworth, a Democrat. Broward went ahead with its count, but Palm Beach and Miami-Dade waited for the Florida State Supreme Court's decision on Thursday which gave them the go ahead. Harris had also petitioned the state Supreme Court to stop the hand-counting, saying it was being done without "coherent standards" and threatened "the integrity of the ballots." She didn't say whether that also applied to Bush's hand counted ballots. Her petition was rejected by the Court without comment. And on Friday, in a major victory for Gore, the Florida Supreme Court enjoined Harris from certifying the election totals "until further order from this Court."
That's just a sample of the wrangling that has delayed a final vote tally. As those events unfolded over the last two weeks, the Bush camp was also maligning the local election officers ("canvassers") in Palm Beach County, alleging that they are committing fraud. Harris, under heavy fire herself, has said that the outspoken Democratic canvasser, Carol Roberts, should recuse herself, and Roberts has been accused of corruptly manipulating and over-handling the ballots in an affidavit signed by a Republican count watcher. Roberts refused to recuse herself, and denies the charge of corruption, as did a lawyer who is a Palm Beach Democratic count observer. That lawyer said on CNN that any charge of corruption against Roberts is "a lie."
The Democrats haven't gotten much traction from citing the "Texas Election Code." Under "Manual Counting, Chapter 127, section 127.130," it says: "Standards by which to judge votes: At least two corners of chad are detached, light is visible through hole, an indentation on the chad from the stylus or other object is present and indicates a clearly ascertainable intent of the voter to vote, or the chad reflects by other means a clearly ascertainable intent of the voter to vote."
Burning the village in order to save it.
The news media have been slow to grasp the game that Bush and his operatives are playing -- one of stopping hand counts by Democratic counties, then saying it's too late for those votes to be counted, and all the while tearing down the process and maligning the intent of local (Democratic) officials.
In the last few days the Bush partisans have resorted to an extreme tactic: forcefully asserting that the Gore camp is trying to "steal" the election. The charge was replayed all over the media this weekend, and especially on the more sensational and hyperventalating cable news networks that must stoke the fires continuously (if only because they burn twenty-four hours a day). This amounts to the Bush camp jumping ahead of the process and sowing land mines, and thus ensures that whatever the outcome, voters around the nation will never be able to have confidence in the process that yielded the final result.
No matter who prevails in the closest presidential election in American history, this last tactic may be the one we all remember. It elicits a memory from the Vietnam era: "We had to burn the village in order to save it."
-- the facts (email@example.com), November 21, 2000.