Why This Election Stuff Is A Good Thing

B5JMS Poster b5jms-owner at shekel.mcl.cs.columbia.edu
Tue Nov 14 04:54:12 EST 2000

From: "Rob Perkins" <rob_perkins at hotmail.com>
Date: 13 Nov 2000 13:04:14 -0700
Lines: 36

"Jms at B5" <jmsatb5 at aol.com> wrote in message
> It is not a crisis.  It is a good thing.

Bravo. Three cheers.

You're absolutely right.

I was thinking last week in the midst of all this, that if this were any one
of several certain third-world nations, Daley's words alone about the
election would have caused bullets to fly. People who call us a "banana
republic" are way off base.

Now, I've been excersising my own brand of hope in this election, hoping
that the counts and the judges (eventually, this week I hope) will all fall
in favor of my guy, of course. But, as far as I can tell, neither side has
been willing to step outside of the process, by drawing weapons of war
rather than words. I'm very very grateful for that. I know people from
Africa and Romania who were not so lucky.

Most of all, I've been hoping (and praying; I don't share atheistic leanings
with JMS or others here) that integrity will prevail down there in FL. That,
and thereafter, a vigorous debate and solution to all the problems there and
elsewhere. I'm certainly tempted to front more than one Initiative to the
People, here in Washington, AND to, of all things, actually join the
Democratic Party.

And, getting back to SF a little bit, I just finished reading _Podkayne of
Mars_, just one week before the election. I'm reminded of the statement in
there that (paraphrased) "Politics is how we solve problems without sticks
and guns. It's better than the alternative."

Hurray for our system. It's better than the alternative.


From: jmsatb5 at aol.com (Jms at B5)
Date: 13 Nov 2000 22:56:16 -0700
Lines: 380

Don't know the validity of what folllows, though it seems pretty solid, but it
got passed on to me so I figured I'd pass it on for others for whatever use or
interest it may hold.


Date: Mon, 13 Nov 2000 01:49:16 -0500
From: Rich Cowan <rcowan at lesley.edu>

13 MYTHS ABOUT THE RESULTS OF THE 2000 ELECTION  (please forward!!)

Millions of dollars are now being raised for a public relations
war between the Democrats and the Republicans to determine the next
president of the United States.  Will the outcome of the election
be determined by ratings in the polls?  Will the present standoff
be resolved by escalation and threats?  Or will the intention of the
voters on election day and the right of the states to choose their
own electors actually matter?

Our involvement this week is essential in order to uphold the
principles of democracy.  Propaganda is flying left and right.
To combat this barrage, we present a point by point analysis of
some key myths in the media today, substantiated with footnotes.
Please read, copy, and forward to friends, relatives and colleagues!

[This draft #4 was prepared by Rich Cowan (rcowan at lesley.edu) with
help from Paul Rosenberg, Dan Kohn, Jonathan Prince, Marc Sobel,
subscribers to the Red Rock Eater News Service and the electronic
mail discussion florida-recount-discuss at egroups.com, and the Yale
Law School Student Campaign for a Legal Election, 127 Wall Street
New Haven, CT 06511 -- spin at pantheon.yale.edu]

 1) Myth: Al Gore has a responsibility to concede the election.

    Fact: A 330 vote margin out of 6 million votes cast in Florida is
    incredibly close!  It is roughly equivalent to a 1-vote margin in
    a city with 40,000 people and 18,000 voters.

    It is extremely rare for an election this close NOT to be
    contested for several weeks until a manual recount can take place,
    with observers from both sides taking part and inspecting ballots.
    This kind of detailed recount has not yet taken place.

    According to the US Constitution and the Laws of Florida, it is
    the responsibility of officials in Florida to certify the election
    results.  November 17 is the deadline for absentee ballots sent
    from overseas to arrive.  Since the election is close enough
    in Florida, Oregon, and New Mexico to be affected by absentee
    ballots, the results in those states cannot be certified before
    that date.

 2) Myth: the number of "spoiled ballots" in Palm Beach County was
    typical.  In a press briefing televised live on all networks
    on 11/9/00, Karl Rove of the Bush campaign compared the 14,872
    invalidated ballots in the 1996 Presidential race to 19,120
    ballots for President that were spoiled in this election.

    Fact: the Bush campaign was comparing apples and oranges.  There
    were actually 29,702 invalidated ballots this year in Palm Beach
    County.  This is almost twice the number in 1996.  "19,120" refers
    to only those 2000 ballots which were thrown out for voting for
    two Presidential candidates.  The remaining 10,582 ballots had no
    choice recorded for President

    According to the Palm Beach County elections office
    (www.pbcelections.org), voters this year were not confused at
    all by the rest of the ballot.  For example, less than 1% of
    U.S. Senate votes were invalidated because of multiple punches,
    compared with over 4% in the Presidential contest.

 3) Myth: The Palm Beach ballot is definitely illegal due to the
    presence of punch holes to the left of some of the candidates.

    Fact: According to the Secretary of State's office, there is a
    loophole in Florida law that may allow ballots used for voting
    machines to deviate from the rules governing paper ballots.  This
    view has been contested by hundreds of Florida voters.  The final
    decision on the legality of the ballot is likely to be made in
    court, as long as this issue could have an effect on the election.

    It is possible that the ballot could be ruled illegal on other
    grounds, such as the Voting Accessibility for the Elderly and
    Handicapped Act or the Americans With Disabilities Act.

 4) Myth: "The more often ballots are recounted, especially by hand,
    the more likely it is that human errors, like lost ballots and
    other risks, will be introduced. This frustrates the very reason
    why we have moved from hand counting to machine counting." --
    Former Sec. of State James Baker, speaking on behalf of the
    Bush campaign at a press briefing televised by all networks on

    Fact: In 1997, George W. Bush signed into law a bill stating that
    hand recounts were the preferred method in a close election in
    Texas.  The bill, "HB 330", mandated that representatives of all
    parties be present to prevent fraud.

    Laws establishing rights and procedures for hand recounts also
    exist in Florida (see Title IX, Chapter 102).  In fact, the
    Orlando Sentinel, (orlandosentinel.com) reported that a partial
    hand count of Presidential ballots this year was ordered by
    Republicans in Seminole County, where Bush led Gore.  This count
    took place on 11/9 and 11/10, widening Bush's lead by 98 votes.
    The Bush campaign did not complain about this hand count; nor
    did it complain about the hand count on 11/11/00 which put Bush
    slightly ahead of Gore in New Mexico.

    There do exist machine voting systems which are fairly accurate,
    but antiquated punch card systems are notoriously inaccurate.
    They were outlawed in Massachusetts in 1997 by Secretary of State
    William Galvin after a Congressional primary that was also "too
    close to call".  The problem is that if the punched-out pieces
    of cardboard are not completely removed from the punch card, they
    can obstruct the card reader and the votes will not be counted.
    A manual recount of such cards can clearly reveal the voter's

 5) Myth: The process is unfair because hand recounts were held only
    in liberal areas of Florida, where Gore stands to pick up the most

    Fact: It is true that a statewide recount would be more fair, and
    the Bush campaign has every right to request one.  According to
    Florida law, hand recount requests must come from the campaigns,
    not from the state.  To fail to request what is commonly referred
    to as a "defensive recount" in conservative areas of Florida, they
    may be making a tactical blunder that will cost them the election.

    It is also true that there were voting irregularities in the
    counties where the Gore campaign requested recounts.

 6) Myth: "Palm Beach County is a Pat Buchanan stronghold and that's
    why Pat Buchanan received 3407 votes there.  According to the
    Florida Department of State, 16,695 voters in Palm Beach County
    are registered to the Independent Party, the Reform Party, or
    the American Reform Party, an increase of 110% since the 1996
    presidential election" -- Ari Fleischer of the Bush Campaign,
    11/9/00.  The 2,000 votes received by the Reform party candidate
    for Congress indicate that party's strength in Palm Beach County
    (James Baker on Meet the Press, 11/12/00).

    Fact: Of those 16,695 voters, only 337 (2 percent) are in the
    Reform Party according to Florida state records.  The Reform
    party candidate for Congress, John McGuire, is connected to a
    more centrist wing of the Reform Party, predating Buchanan's
    involvement.  An analysis of his support indicates that it came
    largely from reform-minded Ralph Nader voters.

    Regarding Buchanan's vote total, the Washington Post reported that
    his vote percentage in Palm Beach county was four times as high at
    the polls as in absentee voting.  Even Buchanan himself admitted
    on 11/8/00 on the Today Show that many of his votes actually
    "belonged to Al Gore".  So did his campaign manager, Bay Buchanan.

 7) Myth: If Gore (or Bush) ends up winning the popular vote, he
    really should win the election even if he loses Florida and other

    Fact: This is not the way the U.S. Constitution is written. 
    The Electoral College decision, imperfect as it may be, is the
    only one that matters.  It may be possible to reform or eliminate
    the electoral college in the future, so that small states would
    no longer receive extra electoral votes out of proportion to
    their population. But until this change is made by Constitutional
    amendment, the Electoral College is still the law of the land.

 8) Myth: The Cook County, Illinois ballot from the home district of
    Gore campaign chair Richard Daley is similar to the "butterfly"
    ballot used in Palm Beach County (reported by Don Evans, 11/8/00)

    Fact: According to the Chicago Daily Herald on 11/10/00, the
    ballots in Chicago which had "facing pages" were referendum
    questions which only had two punch holes, Yes and No.

 9) Myth: The election process in Florida outside of Palm Beach County
    was fair.

    Fact: Actually, thousands of irregularities in over a half-dozen
    categories have already been reported:

     -Ballots ran out in certain precincts according to the LA Times
      on 11/10/00.

     -Carpools of African-American voters were stopped by police,
      according to the Los Angeles Times (11/10/00).  In some cases,
      officers demanded to see a "taxi license".

     -Polls closed with people still in line in Tampa, according to
      the Associated Press.

     -In Osceola County, ballots did not line up properly, possibly
      causing Gore voters to have their ballots cast for Harry Browne.
      Also, Hispanic voters were required to produce two forms of ID
      when only one is required.  (source: Associated Press)

     -Dozens, and possibly hundreds, of voters in Broward County were
      unable to vote because the Supervisor of Elections did not have
      enough staff to verify changes of address.

     -Voters were mistakenly removed from voter rolls because their
      names were similar to those of ex-cons, according to Mother
      Jones magazine.

     -According to Reuters news service (11/8/00), many voters
      received pencils rather than pens when they voted, in violation
      of state law.

     -According to the Miami Herald, many Haitian-American voters were
      turned away from precincts where they were voting for the first
      time (11/10/00)

     -According to Feed Magazine (www.feedmag.com), the mayoral
      candidate whose election in Miami was overturned due to voter
      fraud, Xavier Suarez, said he was involved in preparing absentee
      ballots for George W. Bush. (11/9/00)

     -According to tompaine.com, CBS's Dan Rather reported a possible
      computer error in Volusia County, Florida, where James Harris, a
      Socialist Workers Party candidate, won 9,888 votes.  He won 583
      in the rest of the state.  [11/9/00] County-level results for
      Florida are available at cnn.com.

     -Many African-American first-time voters who registered at motor
      vehicles offices or in campus voter registration drives did not
      appear on the voting rolls, according to a hearing conducted by
      the NAACP and televised on C-SPAN on 11/12/00.

10) Myth: "No evidence of vote fraud, either in the original vote or
    in the recount, has been presented." -- James Baker, representing
    the Bush campaign on 11/10/00, in a Florida briefing.

    Fact: The election was held just last week, so of course many
    instances of fraud have not yet been substantiated.  Even so,
    authorities have already uncovered clear evidence of voter fraud
    involving absentee ballots.

    In Pensacola, Florida, Bush supporter Todd Vinson never received
    the absentee ballot he requested.  According to the Associated
    Press on 11/9/00, it was determined after an investigation that
    this ballot was received by a third party, filled out with a
    forged signature, and then sent in.  Assistant State Attorney
    Russell Edgar, when asked if other absentee ballots might had been
    intercepted, said, "I agree there may well be many more than just
    this one".

    Much media attention on the issue of voter fraud has been focused
    on Wisconsin where cigarettes were offered to homeless people
    who were casting absentee ballots, presumably for Gore.  The
    Gore campaign claims the cigarettes were not used to "buy" votes.
    On Monday 10/13, the London Times reported a suspected pro-Bush
    vote fraud operation in Miami involving over 10,000 ballots.

11) Myth: It is highly unusual for judges to intervene after an
    election.  Since the designer of a disputed ballot in Florida is
    a member of the party contesting the election, a legal challenge
    is impossible.

    Fact: The most fundamental right of a democratic society is
    the the right to vote, and to have one's vote correctly counted.
    The legal system exists to ensure that people's rights are not
    violated.  Whether the person committing a violation is a Democrat
    or a Republican does not affect how that violation should be

    Elections are ultimately struggles for political power so it
    should not be surprising that disputes are often resolved in
    court.  Of course judges can be biased.  That is why they must
    explain their decisions and why bad arguments can be overturned
    on appeal.

    The Florida Supreme Court ruled in 1998, in connection with a
    disputed Volusia County election, that if there is "substantial
    noncompliance" with election laws and a "reasonable doubt" about
    whether election results "expressed the will of the voters" then
    a judge must "void the contested election, even in the absence
    of fraud or intentional wrongdoing." (source: Wall St. Journal,
    10/10/00).  The Journal indicated that there was little legal
    precedent for a revote in just one area where an election
    occurred.  It would be more likely for a court to order a new
    election or to overturn the result.

    These issues have arisen in other states as well.  In a
    Massachusetts Democratic primary in 1996 for the US House, the
    election was so close after recounts that a judge had to make
    the final decision after examining some of the ballots that were
    incompletely punched, to determine the intention of the voter.
    The law clearly dictated that it was the will of the voter that
    mattered, and the candidate who was behind, William Delahunt, went
    on to win the final election.  Call the Capitol Switchboard if you
    have any doubts at 202-225-3121.

12) Myth: Richard Nixon's party in 1960 did the honorable thing in not
    contesting the results of the election.

    Fact: According to a column in the Los Angeles Times, 11/10/00,
    "on Nov. 11, three days after the election, Thurston B. Morton,
    a Kentucky senator and the Republican Party's national chairman,
    launched bids for recounts or investigations in not just Illinois
    and Texas but also Delaware, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri,
    New Jersey, New Mexico, Nevada, Pennsylvania and South Carolina. 
    A few days later, Robert H. Finch and Leonard W. Hall, two
    Nixon intimates, sent agents to conduct what they called "field
    checks" in eight of those 11 battlegrounds.  In New Jersey, local
    Republicans obtained court orders for recounts; Texans brought
    suit in federal court.  Illinois witnessed the most vigorous
    crusade. Nixon aide Peter Flanigan encouraged the creation
    of a Chicago-area Nixon Recount Committee.  As late as Nov. 23,
    Republican National Committee general counsel H. Meade Alcorn
    Jr. was still predicting Nixon would take Illinois."  Recounts
    continued into December, but did not succeed in overturning the
    result of the election.

13) Myth: "Governor Bush is still the winner, subject only to counting
    the overseas ballots, which traditionally have favored the
    Republican candidates" -- James Baker, Press Briefing, 11/10/00

    Fact: The number of yet-to-be-counted overseas military ballots
    is likely to be in the range of 500 to 2000, based on the 1996
    election in which there were 2,300 oversees absentee ballots
    overall, with roughly 60% of them coming from people enlisted in
    the military.  According to CNN [11/10/00], the military overseas
    ballots that arrived before the election were already counted.

    The biggest difference from 1996 is that Clinton -- who avoided
    the draft -- was running against Dole, a decorated military

    In 2000 George W. Bush -- who avoided service in Vietnam and
    actually lost flying privileges in the Texas Air National Guard
    -- is running against Al Gore, a veteran who served in Vietnam.

    It is just as possible that Gore will gain a few hundred votes
    from veterans as the other way around.  It is also possible that
    the Gore ticket will pick up votes from Democratic diplomatic
    appointees, or temporary residents and dual citizens of Israel.

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(jmsatb5 at aol.com)
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