News - Should Gore challenge the Florida ballot in court?""
No. A certain level of voter error is unavoidable
Al Gore is trying to steal the presidency. In broad daylight. In slow motion.
Unhappy with outcome of both the initial Florida vote and a subsequent recount, Gore is moving to wrest the White House away from George W. Bush with a nasty one-two punch of spurious lawsuits and additional recounts in a handful of Democratic counties.
In Palm Beach County, Democratic partisans have filed suit, alleging that a supposedly confusing ballot cost Gore votes. Plaintiffs say the layout caused some hapless Democrats to punch two holes — nullifying their ballots — or mistakenly vote for Pat Buchanan. They want a judge to throw out the results and authorize a new election in the county.
Despite all the sound and fury, the pathetic whiners of Palm Beach will likely lose their crybaby bid for an electoral do-over. The disputed ballot was drawn up by a Democrat and duly approved by officials of both parties. Sample ballots were also mailed, prior to the election, to every single voter in the county. And no one complained.
Fact is, a certain level of voter error is unavoidable. While 19,000 Palm Beach ballots were rejected last week, a similar percentage — 15,000 out of a smaller total — were tossed out in 1996. Plenty of Republicans goofed last week, too, with 22,000 improperly marked ballots thrown out in Florida's GOP-friendly Duval County.
The sour-grapes legal tantrum in Palm Beach is just a start. Gore is also pursuing yet another round of recounts — this time by hand — in four largely Democratic Florida counties. If the GOP can't stop the counts in court — a challenge is pending as we go to press — Gore is all but certain to rustle up enough votes to overtake Bush.
Why? Because targeted hand counts would allow officials in Democrat-controlled counties to review all the ballots — including those thrown out for being improperly punched — and attempt to determine the "intent" of individual voters. Not only are such subjective counts wide open to fraud and manipulation, they are being subjectively applied only to Democratic strongholds.
Bush lawyers rightly insist that giving special treatment to ballots — and voters — in four counties would violate the "equal protection" rights of those in Florida's other 63 counties, but it is worse than that. Gore's grotesque over-reaching demonstrates profound contempt for due process, the rule of law and, yes, democracy itself.
If Bush's narrow victory is still intact when the last of Florida's absentee ballots are tallied Nov. 17 — and that's a big if — Gore should concede the state and the presidency to the rightful winner. Every indication is that he will not.