it gets worse
Arthur D. Wolf
awolf at LLAMA.CNET.WNEC.EDU
Tue Nov 14 22:11:44 PST 2000
CNN reported last evening that several recounts by hand have already
occurred in Texas since Gov. Bush signed that measure into law in 1997. In
one instance, the Republican who lost the initial count asked for a recount
by hand, which he won, and then took his seat in the Legislature. While
Jim Baker may be correct that machines are neither Republican or
Democratic, hand counts can also be non-partisan.
Election officials do the best they can to ensure that all votes are
counted and that the intent of each voter is determined. If you have ever
been up close to such counts, you know that it is not always an easy task.
To be sure, fraud does occasionally infect the electoral process, but fraud
can occur (and has occurred) with paper ballots, with machines, and with
other forms of voting.
Based on my experience as an attorney in the Justice Department (and
having followed elections closely for most of my life), I must say that
members of both major parties have, from time to time, sought to win
elections by illegal means. Hopefully, their unlawful conduct has been
uncovered and appropriate steps taken to deal with it. In one case I was
involved in while in the Justice Department in 1967, both the local
Democratic and Republican parties in Gary, Indiana, working together
through illegal means, sought to defeat Richard Hatcher, the first black
ever nominated for mayor in Gary. Fortunately, the illegalities were
discovered before the election so corrective steps were taken. Mr. Hatcher
won the election.
Doris Kearns Goodwin noted the other evening that in 1824 and 1888, the
candidate with the most popular votes did not win the presidential
election. In both instances, the losing candidates, Andrew Jackson and
Grover Cleveland, ran again four years later and won the presidency.
Sometimes history is self-correcting.
Western New England College
At 05:48 PM 11/14/2000 -0800, Tom Grey wrote:
>Greg Sisk wrote:
>>The counties selected -- which
>>include not only the site of supposed ballot confusion in Palm Beach
>>County but other large heavily Democratic counties -- were selected
>>by Gore partisans for the cynical purpose of ensuring an
>>ever-increasing vote total as recounts progress. Given that most of
>>the Republican leaning counties did not use punch-hole balloting, the
>>same approach to recounting simply is not relevant in those counties.
>>The process is weighted toward Democratic vote gathering, not toward
>>correcting any supposed irregularity.
>There's nothing cynical about instituting a statutory error-correcting
>procedure in the counties where the errors cost your campaign votes! The
>mistake is in the misconception of the nature of the statutory remedy of
>the manual recount. It is not meant only to deal with "irregularities"
>-- i.e., misconduct. It is there to correct "error" -- including the
>perfectly predictable undercount that results from the use of punch ballots.
>The statute provides for the recount of 1% precincts upon request, at the
>discretion of the canvassing board, and then:
>"5) If the manual recount indicates an error in the vote tabulation which
>could affect the outcome of the election, the county canvassing board
> (c) Manually recount all ballots."
>The statutory test of what is an "error" is a counted ballot that departs
>from "a voter's intent" -- see Section 7(b):
> "If a counting team is unable to determine a voter's intent in casting
>a ballot, the ballot shall be presented to the county canvassing board for
>it to determine the voter's intent."
>The counties using punch ballots in Florida were disproportionately
>Democratic. Punch ballots lead to a predictable undercount on the machine
>count, because of the chad problem. Hence Democratic votes in Florida were
>systematically undercounted by the machine count method. Naturally the hand
>recount, the main purpose of which is to correct that systematic
>undercount, will benefit the Democrats -- it was their votes that were
>Hence the Bush campaign's effort to portray the regular and statutorily
>designated hand recount method as somehow illegitimate.
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