- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 21, 2000

Military ballots, manual recounts and the candidates

For the last week and a half, I have listened to Vice President Al Gore explain over and over again that the reason for this mess in Florida is because every citizen in this great nation of ours has a right to have their vote count. This is the foundation of his legal arguments and the justification for why we keep counting and recounting. This is why he demands we accept every chad whether pregnant, or hanging on by two or three corners as a vote to be counted.
What about the votes of the men and women in Florida who have actually dedicated their lives to serving and protecting this great nation? Apparently, an extraordinary number of overseas ballots from these citizens have been thrown out because of unclear or missing postmarks a mistake most likely not of their doing. Will Mr. Gore would be commander in chief of the military and his legal team spend the same amount of time and energy defending the right of these service men and women to have their vote count? As a veteran Air Force nurse during the Gulf War, I would really like to know.
Dumfries, Va.

Because the Bush campaign is so sure it won Florida, why does it fear a statewide manual recount that just would prove it right? A county-by-county manual recount would bring closure to the Florida fiasco, and the results would bring some legitimacy to our newly elected president. If George W. Bush ascends to the highest office in the land on the wings of the Florida butterfly ballot, our nation will have to endure a weakened presidency for the next four years. If Mr. Bush wins the manual recount, he should be president, and all Americans should give him the chance to be the unifier he says he is.
Louisville, Ky.

I am outraged at the treatment of military absentee voters by the Gore campaign. Sending a brief to Florida county election officials on how to disqualify military absentee ballots is a vicious slap in the face to the very people whom the Clinton-Gore administration has sent into harm's way. The sons and daughters of America deserve better than the sorry treatment they are receiving from the vice president.
U.S. Air Force (retired)
Payson, Utah

Vice President Al Gore repeatedly states that he wants to ensure that "every vote" is counted "fairly" and "accurately." Over and over we have heard Mr. Gore and his campaign supporters reiterate the every-vote sentiment until the American people began to believe him.
But now that the absentee ballots have arrived, we're starting to see another Al Gore beneath the mask. Aren't the American people overseas entitled to a vote just as much as the people in "Gore territory?" What's happened to all the rhetoric about every vote and fairness and accuracy now?
There are more than 15,000 Americans who voted by absentee ballots in Seminole County, the neighbors to Orange County. But Mr. Gore evidently doesn't want any of the Seminole County votes tallied. Why? It's simple. Seminole County voted strongly in favor of Mr. Bush.
On Friday, Nov. 17, a suit was filed by Harry Jacobs, an attorney who worked with the Seminole County Democratic Party as an observer during the machine recount. He is suing for all 15,000 absentee ballots to be excluded from the final count. Of course, about 10,000 of these votes were for Mr. Bush and 5,000 for Mr. Gore.
Their claim is that the application for some of the ballots was done contrary to Florida law and therefore the votes should be disregarded. Since these votes are mixed with all the other absentee votes, the argument is that all the votes should be rejected. Does that sound fair… and accurate? How quickly we forget what this was all about.
All of Mr. Gore's words about "every vote" and "fairness" and "accuracy" are obviously a smoke screen. Instead, it appears that only those votes in strongly Democratic precincts are worthy of a recount. All the others (potentially, Bush voters) are not. So much for fairness.
It's becoming increasingly evident that Al Gore is only for Al Gore, and no one else. And all his words are merely a cover for the fact that he is not for the people, as he continually claims. He is trying to take this election by force. And the American people are not being told the whole truth about it.

Carpentersville, Ill.

Why have Palm Beach voters "confused" by the so-called butterfly ballots not complained about their votes being miscast for other races? I find it difficult to understand how the presidential portion of the ballot could be the only confusing part. There is a definite inconsistency in these Palm Beach protests.
Franklin, N.C.

As a nation, we have only ourselves to blame for what is going on in Florida. The nation has lost its sense of what is outrageous. The past eight years of the Clinton-Gore administration have so anesthetized us to the outrageous that we just accept illegal, immoral and scandalous behavior from our political leaders as business as usual.
The moral relativism raised to an art form by the Clinton-Gore administration, and portrayed as positive by the lap-dog mainstream press, finally is coming home to roost. If we are not outraged when a president lies under oath, when a vice president is caught red-handed breaking campaign finance laws he helped draft, when an attorney general stonewalls investigations of political allies or when an administration deliberately circumvents export laws and that action results in advanced defense technology accruing to a potential adversary, how can we be outraged when an election is being stolen right under our noses?
Our unwillingness to decry moral relativism for what it ultimately is lawlessness has emboldened the American left to stop at nothing in achieving its political ends. If, in pursuing their cause, they encounter a law they don't like, they use tactics to delay, obfuscate the facts and demonize the opposition. All the while, they insist that only the highest principles of democracy are at issue, and they often inject allegations of racism.
At the same time, of course, they fervently insist on strict adherence to laws that favor them. I need only point to the blatant hypocrisy of the manual ballot recount in Florida. Mr. Gore's supporters are trying to get additional votes for their candidate by using highly questionable means to divine the voter's intent on an improperly executed ballot. At the same time, however, they are seeking to prevent Texas Gov. George W. Bush from getting additional votes by invoking a postmark law that disqualifies otherwise properly executed absentee ballots from military personnel overseas.
What we have in Florida is only the logical extension of what we have been willing to accept for eight years. Nothing will change until our national sensibilities are so shaken that we have no choice as a society but to reject moral relativism and insist on the rule of law for everybody. Have we reached that point yet? Is our teetering on the edge of a constitutional crisis enough to restore our sense of outrage?
Columbia, Md.

The shameful treatment of military ballots in Florida cannot go unchallenged. I urge every veteran and the families and friends of all active-duty military personnel to demand that the issue be rectified immediately. In addition, the vice president should apologize personally.
The hypocrisy of Mr. Gore and his supporters in invoking the will of the people while robbing America's heroes of their right to vote is despicable and cowardly.
I would hope that someone who wants to be president and commander in chief would have the decency and courage to repudiate such action.
Attleboro, Mass.

I am trying to comprehend the latest developments in Florida. The votes of 39 felons will be counted, but 1,420 ballots from military men and women were thrown out because of Democratic challenges. As a disabled Vietnam veteran, I do not think this is fair.
Grover Beach, Calif.

I have been so impressed by the way former Secretary of State James A. Baker III has conducted himself in the Bush campaign's efforts in Florida. He has been strong and direct in support of the Bush team, without a doubt. That is to be expected. But he has been consistent and principled as well. While the Gore team seems to conduct excessively frequent press conferences, Mr. Baker's comments are less frequent and less verbose. I respect his focus on a single strategy, which to many Americans seems fair and reasonable. I also have observed in his use of language a restraint that focuses on the issues and appropriate criticism that is not overbroad or overreaching. My hat goes off to him.
Hamilton, Ill.

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