Election notes posted on TheGreenPapers.com home page
Tuesday, November 14, 2000
States with close races (all figures below are unofficial):
FLORIDA (25 electoral votes): Bush leads by an estimated 388 votes
IOWA and OREGON have, along with WISCONSIN, been suggested- in media reports- as possible "recount targets" for the Republicans should Gore manage to eke out a victory in FLORIDA. A recount in NEW HAMPSHIRE on behalf of the Democrats should Gore lose in FLORIDA is considered highly unlikely.
The lame duck session of the dying 106th Congress- which was to start on Monday 20 November- will now be pushed back to Tuesday 5 December... why is this important to Election 2000? Because many political observers were speculating as to whether or not this session might, in some way, alter- by a "one time only" statute- the date the Presidential Electors are supposed to meet in their respective States (currently Monday 18 December), which would also affect the last date an uncontestable (that is, not reviewable by Congress because the State has already made a determination) slate of Presidential Electors can be certified as "appointed" by the Governor of a State (6 days prior to the Electors' meeting- currently Tuesday 12 December), if the Presidential Election had not yet been decided by the end of November going into early December.
Monday 13 November 2000 5:15 P.M EST (2215 UTC) - Principal attorneys in the Federal lawsuit brought by the Bush camp (where the US Dist. Ct., S.D. Fla. denied the Bush's campaign's request that it enjoin the manual recounts in 3 counties... this may yet be appealed to the U.S. Ct. of Appeals, 11th Cir.):
for the Bush camp: THEODORE OLSON
Monday 13 November 2000 1:15 P.M EST (1815 UTC) - Donald M. Middlebrooks- judge of the U.S. District Court, Southern District of Florida- has denied the request for an injunction against the manual recounts in the Counties of Broward, Dade and Palm Beach...
Monday 13 November 2000 9:30 A.M EST (1430 UTC) - The Florida Secretary of State (Republican Katherine Harris) has announced that she will certify the election results precisely at 5 o'clock P.M. Tuesday 14 November and that any counties which have NOT certified their results by then will not be counted, NO exceptions! Any recounts done after that time will not be valid. (She has Florida Statutes 102.112 on her side... but how many different ways can one even SPELL "lawsuit".)
Dade County will not begin its recount until- at the earliest- the afternoon of Tuesday 14 November (not al that long before the 5 P.M. EST, 14 November deadline for receiving final county certifications by the Secretary of State!) because the county has yet to approve a manual recount, let alone meet to hammer out logistics of same.
(No word on whether Dade County would want to join Volusia County and Palm Beach County in that lawsuit pending in Tallahassee attempting to extend the deadline for certifying election results)
Democrats have announced they will sue Broward County in order to force them to go ahead with a countywide manual recount the county canvassing board had voted 2-to-1 to deny after a sample 3 precinct "hand count" in that county turned up no significant change in Gore's favor... the Democrats argue that Gore had a net 5 vote gain in the sample and that should have been enough to force a countywide manual recount requested by the Gore campaign.
Monday, November 13, 2000 - Broward County- after doing a preliminary manual recount of a sample 3 precincts- announced this evening that it has found no significant change in the returns versus the mechanical preliminary recount as a result of that sampling and has decided NOT to go ahead with a countywide manual recount, thus denying the request by the Gore campaign for a full so-called "hand count" of the county such as that which is underway in Palm Beach and Volusia Counties... Broward County, thus, appears ready to certify its returns in time to meet the statutory deadline of 5 P.M. EST (2200 UTC), 14 November, for the sending of those certified returns to the Florida Secretary of State.
The judge in the Leon County Circuit Court is expected to hand down his ruling re: either an extension of the 5 P.M. EST (2200 UTC), 14 November deadline for counties to have certified returns into the Florida Secretary of State or an injunction against the enforcement of that deadline between 10 A.M. EST (1500 UTC) or 10:30 A.M. EST (1530 UTC) on Tuesday 14 November.
Volusia County reports only a 20 vote net gain for Al Gore over the mechanical preliminary recount as a result of the countywide manual recount- with roughly 2/3 of the vote so manually recounted so far.
Volusia County has announced- as of 4:30 P.M. EST (2130 UTC), 13 November- that a representative of the Florida Department of State will be in De Land, Florida (the county seat of Volusia County) to receive the certified final returns from that county at precisely 5 P.M. EST (2200 UTC), Tuesday 14 November (this is on a presumption that the suit filed by Volusia [and now joined by Palm Beach] fails)
The suit by Volusia County against the Florida Department of State to try and get the deadline for county-by-county vote returns to be certified and filed (5 P.M. EST, Tuesday 14 November) extended is being heard in the Circuit Court in Leon County (of which the state capital of Tallahassee is the county seat) [2nd Judicial Circuit, which includes 5 other counties besides Leon]... any appeal would be to the Florida Court of Appeal for the 1st (Appellate) District sitting in, by coincidence, Tallahassee... any further appeal would be to the Florida Supreme Court (the state's court of last resort... state constitutional questions which arise could bypass the Court of Appeal and be directly appealed to the Florida Supreme Court)... Volusia County is seeking the judge to order an extension or, failing that, having the judge issue an injunction to prevent the Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris from enforcing the deadline as well as certifying and announcing the vote (as she would then have it) as final.
Volusia County (joined by Palm Beach County) claims that this deadline is not an absolute one, as- while Florida Statutes 102.112 reads that the certified returns from all 67 counties must be in to the Florida Department of State "by 5 p.m. on the 7th day following the... general election"- it then goes on to say that "if the returns are not received by the department by the time specified, such returns may be ignored and the results on file at that time may be certified by the department"- the words "may [note: NOT "shall" or "must"] be ignored" and "may [note: again, not "shall" or "must"] be certified" in the statute, so Volusia County argues, leaves room for at least some discretion on the part of the Secretary of State to extend the deadline (there is, in addition, an argument that this discretion is much too open-ended [i.e., that it gives too much power to the Secretary of State to- at any time- either ignore or certify county returns received after the deadline has been passed])
Volusia County has already found- via their manual recount- 123 ballots not counted at all [!] in either the original tally or the preliminary recount (both done mechanically)... meanwhile, they currently report (so far) a new +2 variance for Gore (239 new votes for Gore, 237 for Bush) in addition to previous variances from the county... AP is now reporting a +388 margin for Bush (my assumption- but it is only that, an assumption- is that this has something to do with the +104 additional variance for Bush reported out of Polk County)
Palm Beach County
Palm Beach County has joined the lawsuit brought against the Department of State in Leon County, FL Circuit Court, claiming they cannot possibly have a countywide manual recount completed until Sunday 19 November at the earliest.
Charles Burton, chairman of the Palm Beach County's canvassing board, announced earlier in the morning of 12 November that- in a second full MACHINE recount of all the ballots in the county- Gore had gained 36 more votes and Bush had lost 3 (a +39 gain for Gore in the county as a whole without a hand count in all but the four hand-counted precincts); meanwhile, the hand count in those four precincts produced a Gore gain of 33 and a Bush gain of 14- which produced that +19 gain for Gore in those four precincts only. It was BOTH of these events that produced the county canvassing board's decision to hand count the entire county.
The logistical meeting of election officials re: the manual recount in Palm Beach County is scheduled for 10 A.M. EST (1500 UTC), Monday 13 November [note that the hearing in Federal court in Miami re: an injunction against the manual recount begins at 9:30 AM EST (1430 UTC) that same day].
All 8 lawsuits filed by Florida Dems contesting- as opposed to protesting- the election have been filed in Circuit Court in Palm Beach County. Palm Beach County has been ordered by the Circuit court NOT to certify its preliminary recount until Tuesday 14 November (which is why it was left out of the official announcement of the preliminary recount which currently gives Bush +961).
In addition, there is a fourth county in which the Gore campaign has requested a manual recount under Florida Statutes 102.166(4)- Volusia County, much further up the Florida Atlantic coast... Volusia County is in a different U.S. Court District (the Middle District of Florida) from that in which the Bush campaign has filed their request for an injunction... Volusia will begin its hand count on Sunday 12 November and hopes to have it completed by Tuesday 14 November (the deadline for counties to have completed their final tallying of the returns and sending the certified results on to the Florida Secretary of State, as required by Florida Statutes 102.112); however, Volusia County is suing the State to try to get the deadline extended, if possible- fearing it might not have it completed as planned.
Apparently, a judge in Volusia County ordered that county's hand count to go forward despite objections from the Bush camp.
How is the recount going? We are not certain and we may not have solid information until Tuesday November 14 at 5PM EST. Until then, here are some tidbits: It is reported that Polk County did a mechanical re-recount and came up with 104 more votes for Bush (but I don't know if that is a net +104 for Bush or only 25 more over the +79 Bush had in the preliminary recount on Thursday). Volusia County re-counted write-ins as the first part of its manual recount and found 6 more votes for Gore and 1 more for Bush (+5 net for Gore)
For those of you reading this- within the United States and especially outside of the USofA- who might not understand our judicial system, let me make this very clear:
this injunction sought by the Bush campaign is being brought in a FEDERAL Court (even though the legal argument involves a Florida STATE statute- the Bush campaign is arguing that the Florida statute allowing manual recounts violates the Constitution of the UNITED STATES [and, therefore, it is a FEDERAL- not a STATE- question]): the Federal Court hearing this case next Monday is the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida in Miami, Florida. Any appeal from the judge's ruling (whatever it might be- granting the injunction or no) would be to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, which covers the States of Alabama, Florida and Georgia. Any further appeals beyond the 11th Circuit can only go to one place- the Supreme Court of the United States in Washington, D.C. (the Nation's highest court of last resort) beyond which there IS no appeal!
meanwhile, those lawsuits being brought by those 3 voters- whose actions are, of course, being supported by the Gore campaign- who are claiming they were, in effect, denied their right to vote by being confused by the controversial ballot used in Palm Beach County this past 7 November are bringing these cases in STATE court (NOT the Federal courts cited above: each of the 50 States of the American Union has its own court system- separate and independent from that of the Federal Government): the court that would hear these cases would be the Florida Circuit Court for Palm Beach County (Florida's 15th Judicial District) sitting in West Palm Beach, Fla.- the county seat. Any appeals (by the losing party or parties) would be taken to the Florida District Court of Appeal for the 4th (Appellate) District which not only includes Palm Beach County but, by complete coincidence, that particular District Court of Appeal also sits in West Palm Beach, Fla. Any appeals from that court would go to the Florida Supreme Court (which is different from the U.S. Supreme Court) sitting in Tallahassee, the state capital.
If a ruling by the judge in the Palm Beach County Circuit Court should involve a question re: Florida's own State Constitution, a direct appeal could be taken to the Florida Supreme Court (bypassing the 4th District Court of Appeal). The Florida Supreme Court would be the end of the road for a STATE case (that is, no further appeal could be taken) UNLESS a state law is held to be constitutional under requirements of the Constitution of the UNITED STATES, in which case the legal matter COULD be taken up by- you guessed it!- the Supreme Court of the United States in Washington, D.C.
It is the considered opinion of "The Green Papers" (taking into account the trend of the recount) that, when the subsequent recount(s)- are completed and finally certified and announced, the final vote in FLORIDA will end up determining that Governor George W, Bush of Texas has, indeed, won the State of FLORIDA, will thereby gain 25 more Electoral Votes which will, in turn, give him 271 to Vice President Gore's 262 and, thus, make George W. Bush, Republican, the 43d President of the United States of America. Therefore, "The Green Papers" has once again posted FLORIDA as being in the Bush column but with the caveat that this is pending the outcome of any potential legal challenges to Governor Bush's victory in the State on behalf of the presidential candidacy of Vice President Gore.
Popular vote (national margin 204,789 for Gore)