- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 14, 2000

All eyes focused on Florida


Katherine Harris, the Republican secretary of state of Florida, has decided to abandon her impartiality and instead act as a partisan surrogate for the Bush campaign.
Her insistence that Florida counties certify their vote count to the state by 5 p.m. today is in direct conflict with the legal right of local authorities to conduct a thorough and complete count in their jurisdictions in order to determine the true will of the people.
If Mrs. Harris were to act appropriately, she would support the counties in their effort to have the certification deadline extended so they can get the most accurate count possible. But because Jeb Bush, the Republican candidate's brother, is the governor of Florida, it should be no surprise to anyone that state Republican officials are partisans for George W. Bush's presidential campaign.
SACHA A. BOEGEM
Las Vegas


Political commentator George Will made an excellent point Sunday on ABC's "This Week." He said that what was, on Election Day, a politically divided nation now has become a polarized nation.
How sad that our nation is being torn apart because of the Gore campaign's fishing expedition for votes. I've often heard Democrats talk about fairness, but how fair is it to do a hand count in a few selected Democratic counties and not in Republican counties that also had a significant number of presidential no-vote ballots?
It seems terribly one-sided, but it is legal under Florida law. Democrats have been beating their chests loudly about following the letter of Florida law. I agree. We should stop the polarization and put this fishing expedition to an end.
Florida law is clear on election finality. All counties must send their certified election results to the Florida secretary of state one week after the election. Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris should follow the letter of Florida law and enforce the deadline.
Let us see if the Democrats really mean what they say.
HARRY IRVINE
Dumfries, Va.


In an eclectic sense, elections are akin to sporting events. Both constitute a competition, governed by rules and refereed by sanctioned officials, to the end of determining a winner. Meaningful competition, therefore, necessarily requires prior acceptance of any outcome provided the competition is conducted by the rules.
Before the use of the instant replay, the outcomes of some professional football games were perceived (by the losers) as unfair because of bad calls. Yet, in most instances, the rules were enforced justly, and game results were not reversed because of a bad call.
That referees occasionally miss a call is an accepted part of the game, because competitors both know and agree to referees' authority in advance. So, while outcomes resulting from bad calls might be perceived as unfair, they cannot be judged unjust. Whether the rules were applied justly can be questioned, but the justice of the outcome cannot be if the rules were followed.
If rules can be changed ex post facto to the extent that they affect the outcome, then what is the point of having rules in the first place or, for that matter, of conducting the competition?
Texas Gov. George W. Bush won the presidential election by the rules. He won both the initial vote count and the subsequent recount as prescribed by Florida law. This outcome is, therefore, just. Some, however, persist in arguing that it is unfair because a change of rules (purportedly to make them fairer) would reverse the prevailing outcome and make Vice President Al Gore the winner.
The retroactive modification of rules to the extent that an outcome is reversed would set a dangerous precedent. Doing so could well undermine future elections so that only the most devious rule-changers could win. In that case, we would have not only unfair outcomes, but banana-republic-type injustice as well.
JOHN J. KOSKO
Germantown


What is occurring in Florida now is tantamount to a quasi-legal coup d'etat in which select segments of Florida's electorate are receiving preferential treatment by having their ballots physically re-examined. This is, in effect, ballot-rigging on a statewide scale by Democratic politicians, with little or no concern for the Constitution or the rule of law. It's nothing but a do-over because the Democrats didn't like the results of the vote.
Democratic ballot officials from four Florida counties get to discern and enhance the votes in their jurisdictions while the rest of Florida effectively is disenfranchised. Further, Gore campaign chairman William M. Daley, the son of the most notorious vote-rigger in U.S. history, encourages all of this activity in his public pronouncements. He learned well at his father's knee.
With the popular vote now showing less than a 0.2 percent difference separating Vice President Al Gore and Texas Gov. George W. Bush, maybe we should have a national recount, since there are suggestions of significant voter fraud cropping up in a number of states, including California.
The Florida hand count is nothing but an attempt to change the outcome of an election through the use of high-priced lawyers and ballot gamesmanship. Given its implications, it could mark the beginning of the end of American representative government.
BRYAN WALSH
Richmond


The current political battle in South Florida reveals the true nature of the struggle between Republicans and Democrats. Never in my lifetime has the distinction between these two parties been laid out so clearly before the American people.
Republicans believe America is a democratic republic, a representative government with a balance between state and federal power. Democrats believe in a direct democracy, a government by referendum in which legislatures craft laws but the voice of the public approves them.
Not only does Vice President Al Gore reinvent government, but his political hacks reinvent the Constitution as well. The Gore camp now treats republican institutions such as the Electoral College as anachronistic, whereas two weeks ago, Mr. Gore extolled the wisdom of our founders in creating it.
Situational ethics means that raw power defines what is right for the moment; stay tuned because history will change in an instant. The ministry of truth, also known as the major television networks, will redefine fairness until they achieve what they want: the overturning of an election in favor of Mr. Gore.
Why does the mainstream media side with the Democratic Party? Aside from the predictable liberal bias, a democracy is more easily controlled by a strong Fourth Estate than is a republic. A republic at least allows elected servants to vote their conscience and principles, rather than simply accede to the wishes of the brainwashed.
Lady Liberty weeps.
STEVE ALDERMAN
Houston


The election debacle in Florida is a sad thing for our country.
Take it from one who knows. I once lived in a country where a dictator and his party stayed in office by whatever means necessary, where they could not be removed from power unless the people rose up and threw them out. I fear this is the future we face if we stand by and let this horrible corruption of our election process take place in Florida.
Last Tuesday, Americans had the chance to go into the voting booth and choose their president through an anonymous balloting system. The first count and the subsequent recount of the votes in Florida confirmed that Texas Gov. George W. Bush was leading the election by a slim margin and that the absentee ballots would decide his margin of victory or defeat.
Now, one political party is conducting a highly selective hand recount in four counties where Democrats have both an overwhelming majority of the popular vote and control of the local election boards. They are, in short, refusing to accept any count that shows them losing, choosing instead to manufacture votes in a way that would make a banana republic proud.
This is a disgrace to us as Americans and a direct assault on our political and electoral system. This is not about whether you are a Democrat or a Republican. It is about whether or not you want to preserve the ability to make a difference with your vote.
KATIE JERKOVICH
Fresno, Calif.

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