- The Washington Times - Monday, November 13, 2000

Election dilemmas preoccupy the nation

The people have spoken, and morally and legally, Vice President Al Gore is the only candidate who can make a legitimate claim to the office of president.
By carrying the popular vote across our nation, Mr. Gore proved himself to be the choice of the people. While it is true that our nation chooses presidents not by popular vote but by electoral vote, Mr. Gore is the winner on that front as well. When Florida is taken out of the equation, Mr. Gore has more electoral votes than Texas Gov. George W. Bush.
Assuming his lead in Oregon holds up, Mr. Gore would be just three votes shy of victory. Mr. Bush, on the other hand, would be 24 electoral votes shy of victory without Florida.
When it comes to Florida, the vote is simply too close to call, and the controversies are too serious to make a fair judgment possible as to the winner. The reasonable solution? Split Florida's electoral vote down the middle and award half to Mr. Gore and half to Mr. Bush. By virtue of his success elsewhere, Mr. Gore then would have enough electors to win the presidency.
Morally and legally, Mr. Gore was the choice of the people. It is time for Mr. Bush to do the honorable thing to step aside and to urge the American people to support Mr. Gore as president.
WILLIAM B. REASON
Lexington Park, Md.


Given the events of the past few days, is it any wonder that the people of Tennessee didn't support Al Gore in his bid for the presidency?
DENNIS LANGLEY
Knoxville, Tenn.


To suggest that Texas Gov. George W. Bush would not enter the White House with a mandate from the people shows flawed logic. If he becomes president, he will have won 30 states. His appeal reaches from coast to coast, north to south. His mandate would be from an electorate representing nearly every region in the country. Vice President Al Gore's appeal, in contrast, is primarily in major urban areas. I prefer a president whose reach is broad rather than narrow.
STEVE BASSETT
Columbia, Md.


I am frustrated by the current state of affairs regarding the recount of the Florida votes.
In our system of government, the judiciary acts as a balance. By examining an election under the microscope of the courts, we ensure the fairness of the process and the integrity of the presidency.
If we are unwilling to subject an election to judicial scrutiny, what is the value of the election? If our political leaders wish to sweep complaints under the rug, how can we be assured of compliance with the law? The integrity of an election depends on the legislative and judicial processes that mandate and validate it. If we abandon the validation, we might as well abandon the election.
We must be patient. We must allow Florida, and any other state, to work through its legal process. We must address the concerns that have been raised. Jumping to any conclusions regarding who won the election only impedes this process.
ALLEN P. SRAGOW
Long Beach, Calif.


Was the Palm Beach County butterfly ballot confusing? It was not as tricky as the opti-scan absentee ballot used by my home county in South Carolina.
My absentee voter packet contained three or four mechanically copied pages of instructions, information on candidates and issues, and one manila card covered with a couple hundred numbered boxes. The instructions said that, as in the standardized tests taken by high school students, any extra and/or stray marks could disqualify my vote. I had to be careful because I knew I would not have time to request a new ballot if anything went wrong with the first.
It would have been very easy to make a mistake and vote incorrectly. I had to select candidates from a copied page, make a mental note of each candidate's arbitrarily assigned number (e.g. Browne 158) and darken the appropriate number for each selected candidate on the Manila card. The candidates' names did not appear on the card itself, much less with a helpful bold arrow pointing to the correct space for each, as on the Palm Beach ballot.
I took my time and checked all my answers more than once. I believe anyone in Florida who valued his vote would have done the same. I do not believe I made any mistakes on my ballot, but if I did, it is no one's fault but my own.
CAT CLARK
Steubenville, Ohio


Shallow sniping, sniveling, whining, hand-wringing and crying foul is a disgraceful, highly disturbing way to drag out a presidential election. Surely the country has endured enough backbiting, bitterness and deceit from the Clinton administration, the bungled impeachment and the inept Republican Congress.
The cliffhanger for president raises more than superficial concerns and questions. The political spectacle in Florida, careless news hype and the obsolete Electoral College strike out at the heart of the Constitution, the republic and our so-called representative democracy.
America is better than this.
Contentious politics and the two-party system have reached the pinnacle of arrogance by fomenting age, race, gender, class and cultural warfare at the ballot box. That's not democracy, it's simply hateful demagoguery.
Demonizing any third-party presidential candidate as a threat to the partisan elite is clear and convincing evidence of the divisive threat the draconian two-party system poses to democracy in America. Alas, the sovereignty of the people will continue to erode unless we turn government by consent into self-government by participation.
America can do better than this.
Good suggestions have included replacing the two-party and Electoral College systems with nonpartisan direct democracy by means of secure voting networks connected to voters' homes. Wouldn't it be better to select and elect highly qualified nonpartisan professional government managers instead of being forced to choose between two pre-selected professional politicians who are only in the game for personal power, influence and a legacy?
Wouldn't it be nice to be neutrally and truthfully informed for a change? It even would be better to be able to point, click, check and change our votes before making the most important decisions of our lives.
DANIEL B. JEFFS
Founder
Direct Democracy Center
Apple Valley, Calif.


On Nov. 7, every precinct in every county of every state collected ballots from voters who wanted to have a say in the selection of our next president. In every one of those precincts, some voters filled out their ballots improperly. Some requested new ones, others submitted the erroneous ballots. This is not new; in fact, it's quite common.
What would be new and frighteningly unprecedented would be to allow a select few to recast their ballots. Discarding a spoiled ballot is not disenfranchisement; the right to vote was not denied. We do not have the right to vote until we do it correctly or until we like the results. We have one vote, and once that ballot has been submitted, all claim to it is surrendered. If we were to allow the results of this national election to hinge on the errors committed by voters in one county, it would open a Pandora's box that would affect every precinct in every county in every state of the union. Our democracy would never be the same.
When the final ballot is counted on Nov. 17, let the winner assume the honor he has won. The integrity of our nation depends upon it.
TODD EBERLY
Baltimore


Attempts to paint America's Electoral College system as "outmoded" or even "unfair" are clear demonstrations of ignorance of the founders' intent and wisdom.
The Electoral College was intended as an important check in our delicate system of checks and balances among other reasons, to help ensure that the smallest and least populous states would carry just enough weight not to get lost in the shuffle during the national elections.
The Electoral College system functions as a check in several other ways, which can be seen only by people willing to investigate the matter calmly and without prejudice.
Suffice it to say that more thought and wisdom were expended in creating our current system than are being used to disparage it.
Think carefully and quietly before attempting to change what was put in place for a reason.
JIM BLANEY
Jackson, Mich.

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