Re: confederacy of dunces*

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From: Roy T. Fielding (
Date: Sun Nov 26 2000 - 20:23:36 PST

> Having one party keep an election going, kicking along, until the desired
> result is achieved is no way to conduct an election.

I think most people in Florida would agree that the election was botched
before the voting started.

> Neither is crying "every vote must count" and then trying to get a bunch
> of military ballots (which you don't think
> will fall your way) invalidated. BAD dems, bad, bad.

I've read many different sources describing the election, but none have
shown any evidence that the Democrats have tried to invalidate a bunch
of military ballots. None. The only thing that is known is that the
Bush campaign wishes the canvassing boards to include 1500 or so mailed
ballots that were received without a postmark, theoretically because
they might have been sent by military mail without a proper postmark
[which seems odd to me, since the military uses U.S. postal service marks
as standard practice, and they can be rather strict about procedures].
Those ballots were invalidated by the election rules established prior to
the voting, for obvious reasons. Bush's legal challenge has been
against the canvassing boards, not against the Democrats.

Read it for yourself. And note the comment from the Gore campaign,
which supports counting any vote that was signed and dated.

I've heard lots of claims about Democrats trying to steal the election,
including quite a few from Bush himself that demonstrated his handlers
don't understand when it is best to just be silent. I've also read
many claims by the far right commentators to the effect that the
canvassing boards are controlled by Democrats seeking to overturn
the election. I've also read calls to battle by the same people,
claiming that it would be better for "loyal republicans" to storm the
canvassing boards and prevent them from proceeding with hand counts.
I've also seen the results of that on TV newscasts.

I've been (again) disappointed by the disdain with which our press,
of all types and biases, have for correcting others when the facts
are known and one side or another is obviously lying for the sake
of their own benefit. The canvassing boards are not controlled by
Democrats -- the fact is that most of them are run by judges, who
are required to be politically impartial even when they are politically
appointed, and consist of an equal number of Republicans and Democrats.
The notion that such a group could conspire for or against any single
candidate is ridiculous -- they are all watching each other like hawks.

The stupid thing about the recount was that it was only done in the
heavily Democratic counties. Anyone who understands statistics will
realize that such an order would imbalance the results. However, the
reason that the hand recount wasn't performed for the entire state is
because all of the other county canvassing boards followed the direction
of the state canvassing board (and the Bush campaign) in refusing
to perform a manual recount. Is it right to blame that on the Democrats?

To put it another way, what is the final arbitrator of the election?
Is it the canvassing board, or the computers chosen by the canvassing
board? For an election in which the computer's results were so close
as to be within the computer's statistical margin of error, should the
results be verified by hand? Or should we just trust the computers?
Keep in mind that the number of rejected ballots, not included in the
computer count due to incomplete or double-punched votes, was over
30 times the difference between the two candidates.

The only canvassing board that was not selected for impartiality is
the state elections board, consisting of the Sec. of State (a volunteer
in the Bush campaign), Jeb Bush (who recused himself after election
day, replaced with a Democrat who supported the Bush campaign), and
the state elections supervisor (a Republican appointee). I think
Florida lost any credibility as a state on the day that this group
was placed in charge of the election results.

Any manual recount takes time to complete, especially when one side
or another is actively interfering with the counting effort. The
Sec. of State set an initial deadline that was impossible to meet,
a fact that she knew quite well. The second deadline, set by one
of the courts, was also nearly impossible to meet given the Thanksgiving
holiday and all of the court challenges by the Bush campaign that
halted counting. Even so, the Sec. of State could have accepted the results
on Monday instead of on Sunday (that option was given by the same court),
but she insisted on opening the office on Sunday. The result was that
Palm Beach County missed the deadline by two hours, and Miami-Dade
simply gave up because they did not have enough time to finish.

If the entire state had done a manual recount, with observers
and no interference from the campaigns, the results would have been
known a week ago. Why wasn't it done? Because the Bush campaign had
already won the computer count by a few hundred votes, and because the
only person empowered to force a state recount is a member of the
Bush campaign.

So, the next time you hear some ditto-head claim that the Florida
recount was controlled by Democrats, ask them what it feels like to
be devoid of critical thought.

Personally, I wish they'd just flipped a coin -- the candidates are
the same, so I just voted for the group of handlers that were less
repellant. Given all the ways in which the state interfered with the
counting efforts, I'm not surprised that the Gore campaign is continuing
with the legal challenges.


I wish it was over, but at least this way the challenges might result
in better laws and procedures for vote counting. I doubt it, but they might.

If Gore has any sense, he should drop the certification challenge and
simply appeal to the electoral college -- having won the popular vote
and being only a couple electors away from the majority, he should call
on them to vote their conscience. At the very least, that will encourage
the lame ducks to pass the constitutional amendment to get rid of the
damn thing once and for all.


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