- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 14, 2000

While many Americans were having anxiety attacks, losing sleep, and fighting off depression as they watched the entire country seriously divided and teetering on the cusp of a constitutional crisis, there was little comfort to be had in watching television tapes of Al Gore and friends happily frolicking in a game of tag football and taking fun-filled jogs through the countryside.

The situation is that George W. Bush won the original vote in Florida and won a recount of the same vote. The Gore team cried “foul” and laid down the claim that the “butterfly” ballot used in several counties, including heavily Democratic Palm Beach County, was “illegal.”

The Gore camp dispatched chartered aircraft crammed with lawyers, spin artists, and political operatives to mount a campaign to discredit the presidential election process in Florida and undermine the election results. They contended that this illegal ballot so confused voters that thousands of them either invalidated their ballot by voting for two candidates for president, mistakenly voted for Pat Buchanan rather than Gore, or, being seriously befuddled, did not vote for any presidential candidate.

Jesse Jackson appeared on the scene to incite protests with accusations that minority voters had been “intimidated.” The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), as is their wont, quickly interjected race into the dispute. Within days, nine lawsuits were filed, charging election officials and others with the violation of civil rights. Letters were dispatched to Attorney General Janet Reno asking for her intervention.

Suddenly and mysteriously, hundreds of black students from Florida A&M; college were engaged in a sit-in at the state capitol in Tallahassee. Rent-a-mobs filled the streets with banners proclaiming “No Justice, No Peace.”

In the midst of all this, William Daley, Gore's campaign chairman, said that since Gore had won the national popular vote, he “should be awarded a victory” to express “the will of the people.” He neglected to mention that his suggestion is unconstitutional, and he also neglected to mention that over 2 million absentee ballots have not yet been counted.

The contested “butterfly” ballot is widely used. For example, it is the kind of ballot William Daley himself uses when he votes in Chicago (Cook County) where, in this election cycle, 120,000 ballots were thrown out. Apparently the “butterfly” ballot is a problem for Democrats only when it yields a Republican victory.

The legal ballot used in Palm Beach County was designed by an elected Democrat official. Before the election, it was reviewed and approved by both political parties, published in newspapers, and mailed to all registered voters in a sample ballot. And new ballots were available to voters who complained of making mistakes.

At the request of the Gore team, hand-counts of individual ballots were conducted in several heavily Democratic counties, including Palm Beach. This opened the process to subjective interpretation and second-guessing of what the Florida legal code calls “the intent of the voter.” Incredibly and ominously, one quarter way into the first hand-count in Palm Beach, the standard was changed for judging whether or not a ballot was valid. If human biases manifest themselves in the count in a heavily Democratic county, they are more likely to be Democrat biases.

In heavily Republican Duval County, there were 26,000 ballots which were discarded and uncounted because of voter error in filling them out. If the will of the people is at stake, why should not those ballots be subjected to individual scrutiny and interpretation? And if machine errors and voter confusion are indicated in Palm Beach County and Duval County, why not in all the other counties in Florida, and for that matter, all the other counties in the United States, including, of course, areas notorious for election fraud and mischief, including Chicago, St. Louis, Detroit and Los Angeles?

What is the rationale for not pursuing the most perfect expression of the “will of the people”? And where does it end? Apparently, it need never end. In a press conference on Saturday, Nov. 11, 2000, former Secretary of State Warren Christopher signaled that the Gore team would not concede the election, even if Gore was still losing after all vote counting was concluded and certified.

Alas, that is the dangerous and slippery slope that Al “no controlling legal authority” Gore has put us on. In Florida he has designed a boilerplate of how a defeated and sore-loser candidate anywhere in America, for offices high or low, can effectively undermine and disrupt elections, and possibly overturn them.

So much for the will of the people.


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