Election notes posted on TheGreenPapers.com home page
Wednesday, November 15, 2000
States with close races (all figures below are unofficial):
FLORIDA (25 electoral votes): Bush leads by an estimated 300 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.
Popular vote (national margin 204,789 for Gore)
Tuesday 14 November - The Florida Secretary of State, Katherine Harris, announced the following vote totals re: the certified returns from all 67 counties:
Status of the counties in which the Gore campaign asked for manual recounts late last week re: the 5 PM EST (2200 UTC), 14 November deadline for certifying vote returns and sending them to the Florida Secretary of State:
BROWARD- The Broward County Circuit Court has refused to order the Broward County canvassing board to hold a countywide manual recount (as had been the request of the Gore campaign in that court) but has strongly suggested it do so... the Broward County canvassing board is currently meeting to decide whether or not to do so- if they should so decide, the earliest such a countywide manual recount could begin would be the morning EST, 15 November.
DADE- is just starting a manual recount of 3 sample precincts before determining whether or not to do a countywide manual recount: certified and submitted- by 5 PM EST (2200 UTC), 14 November- the latest mechanical recount they had.
PALM BEACH- will be re-starting their suspended countywide manual recount at 7 A.M. EST (1200 UTC), 15 November: submitted- by 5 PM EST (2200 UTC), 14 November- their second mechanical recount (the one that produced an additional +39 variance in Gore's favor above the variance produced by the first preliminary recount of 8-9 November)... however, this not appear to have been "certified" because there is still an injunction against so certifying ANY returns out of Palm Beach County handed down by the Palm Beach County Circuit Court late last week (this is related to the court case brought in that court by 8 Florida citizens who claim their rights were violated when they were confronted by a confusing ballot on 7 November) VOLUSIA- completed the basic countywide manual recount (there were issues re: some questionable recounts left over which were put aside): certified and submitted- by 5 PM EST (2200 UTC), 14 November- that manual recount (the only county in the State to certify a complete countywide manual recount by the deadline imposed by Florida Statutes 102.112)
Broward, Palm Beach and Volusia Counties are currently asking the Florida Supreme Court to clarify the conflicting directives (one from the State Elections Division- a branch of the office of the Florida Secretary of State [Katherine Harris, a Republican] and the other from the Florida Attorney-General [Bob Butterworth, a Democrat]) re: the legality of manual recounts in those counties... since Volusia County certified its manual recount as its vote returns just before 5 P.M. EST (2200 UTC), it will be interesting to see if the Florida Secretary of State accepts them and, if so, what effect that will have on the determination of which of these conflicting directives would be controlling.
The Bush campaign has filed a notice of appeal in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit- sitting in Atlanta, Georgia- asking for the injunction against the manual recounts in Dade and Palm Beach Counties (Broward County is no longer doing a manual recount, although the Gore campaign is trying to get a state court to force them to do so) that was denied by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida.
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.
The Gore camp has flatly rejected the Baker compromise (below), claiming it is merely- in its essence- a reiteration of what Florida Secretary of State Katherine Baker opined on Monday 13 November.
Former U.S. Secretary of State James Baker- speaking for the Bush campaign- has (as of 11:00 A.M. EST [1600 UTC], 14 November) offered the following compromise:
1. that all votes (whether mechanical or manually recounted) submitted to the Florida Secretary of State by the 67 Florida counties as of the statutory deadline of 5 PM EST (2200 UTC), 14 November, be considered the certified final tally of the county-by-county vote returns.
2. that the overseas absentee ballot tally as received by the Florida Secretary of State as of midnight, 17 November be considered the final vote returns from those ballots.
3. both sides drop all their various and sundry State and Federal lawsuits related to the election of the 25 Presidential Electors from Florida.
Mr. Baker categorically rejected the reputed Democratic "offer" reported in today's Los Angeles Times (posted below)
Preliminary: Earlier we had a +126 margin for Bush in New Mexico. This was the last tally BEFORE the discovery of the new votes for Gore... moreover, it was a mathematical error in Bernalillo County which had mistakenly given more than 500 votes to Bush that should have, instead, gone to Gore... if this is correct you have a +126 Bush margin in NM swinging over to a roughly +900 margin for Gore. Other sources show Gore with a 374 vote lead after the latest adjustments.
An interesting tidbit out of NM (not that it means anything... it's merely intriguing): Gore won the fair majority of the overseas absentee ballots (largely military) in NM (they finished counting them last night) [in '96, Dole won the majority of these in NM]
As of 1 P.M. EST (1800 UTC), 14 November, the Leon County Circuit Court has denied the request by Volusia County (joined by Palm Beach County) to extend the 5 PM EST (2200 UTC) deadline for vote return certification with the Florida Secretary of State... however, it is a mixed decision:
1. ALL counties MUST certify whatever vote returns they have at 5 PM EST (2200 UTC) 14 November to the Florida Secretary of State.
2. The counties may file supplementary or corrective returns after the deadline, including any based on manual recounts.
3. The Secretary of State MAY ignore such returns... however, she cannot due so "arbitrarily" and only by using "proper exercise of discretion after due consideration of all appropriate facts and circumstances".
Volusia County is making an emergency appeal of this ruling directly to the Florida Supreme Court in Tallahassee (recall that Palm Beach County is already in that court seeking a clarification of the conflict between the State Elections Division- a branch of the Florida Department of State- and the Attorney General over whether or not a manual recount in that county may proceed on technical grounds)
Still no word, as of this typing, on whether or not the Bush camp intends to appeal the ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Middlebrooks (S.D., Fla.) denying an injunction against ANY manual recounts in Broward, Dade and Palm Beach Counties to the U.S. Court of Appeals, 11th Circuit in Atlanta, Georgia.
The Gore camp is claiming that 7 other counties- besides the 4 counties in the midst of manual recounts (at various stages) requested by the Gore campaign- have used manual recounts as a supplement to mechanical recounts and that 6 of these were counties that went to Bush in the original raw tally. However, it should be noted, that NONE of these hand counts (outside of those in Broward, Dade, Palm Beach and Volusia Counties) were requested by the Bush campaign under Florida Statutes 102.166(4)... the Attorney-General of Florida has opined that this fact might put Florida's entire Electoral Vote in jeopardy under both the State and U.S. Constitution [if Florida's 25 electors were not to be able to meet and vote by 18 December, only 513 electoral votes would be counted and- with 257 needed to elect and assuming that the present "calls" for each State (as they appear on "The Green Papers") hold (minus Florida)- Al Gore would be elected President with 262 to 246 electoral votes for George W. Bush]
And hanging over all this is the injunction issued by the Palm Beach County Circuit Court (re: the lawsuit brought by 8 Florida citizens who feel their vote was counted wrongly due to a confusing ballot) last Friday (10 November) which prevented Palm Beach County from sending its preliminary mechanical recount on to the Florida Secretary of State late last week (which is why Florida Sec'y of State Harris could only report the results of that preliminary recount in 66 of 67 counties: Palm Beach County's preliminary recount was left out by court order)- that injunction runs out later on Tuesday 14 November.
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".)
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...
As of 11:30 A.M. EST (1630 UTC), 14 November, Dade County has agreed to manually recount 3 sample precincts as requested by the Gore campaign late last week... Dade claims it will have this sampling hand count completed by the vote return certification deadline of 5 P.M. EST (2200 UTC), 14 November if necessary.
A hearing is scheduled for 2 P.M. EST (1900 UTC), 14 November in Broward County Circuit Court (17th Judicial Circuit) on the Democrats' attempt to force the Broward County canvassing board to order a manual recount of the entire county- any appeal from any ruling/decision of the Broward County Circuit Court would be to the 4th District Court of Appeal in West Palm Beach (state constitutional questions could bypass the Court of Appeal and go directly to the Florida Supreme Court in Tallahassee)
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. 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 lawsuit filed by Democrats against Broward County- engendered by that county's refusal to go ahead with a countywide manual recount (even though 4 extra votes had been found for Gore in a sample manual recounting of 3 Broward precincts)- cites alleged mistaken (unstated) directives from the State.
Nothing else, so far, has changed: STILL no ruling/decision out of the Leon County Circuit Court re: the Volusia/Palm Beach Counties' suit to try and extend the 5 PM EST (2200 UTC) vote return certification deadline.
Leon County Circuit Court had now said that a decision re: Volusia County's lawsuit against the Secretary of State re: extending the 5 PM EST (2200 EST), 14 November deadline for certifying county-by-county vote returns (per Florida Statutes 102.112) will not be handed down until some time around noon EST (1700 UTC).
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])
Palm Beach County
The Attorney General of Florida (Bob Butterworth- a Democrat: also had been head of Al Gore's Florida campaign) has ruled that the State Elections Division's directive that manual recounts are only permitted re: a mechanical equipment or computer software problem (and which caused Palm Beach County to suspend its manual recount) is, in fact, incorrect and that Palm Beach County can resume its manual recount... Palm Beach County, instead, has gone to the Florida Supreme Court to get some kind of advisory opinion as to what the county should or should not do.
Meanwhile, Democrats have gone to court to force Palm Beach County (assuming it does- in fact- resume its manual recount) to count so-called "dimple" votes (where a punch card has merely been indented) as opposed to the county's own opinion that a "significant amount of chad" ("chad" being the piece of cardboard punched out when a punch card punch hole is, in fact, punched) be visible before the vote can be considered for "voter's intent" per Florida Statutes 102.112(7).
Tuesday, 14 November 2000 9 A.M. EST (1400 UTC) - Palm Beach County's canvassing board just voted to suspend the countywide manual recount they had already started due to a directive from the State Elections Division that such manual recounts are only authorized where there has been a software or other such failure in the course of the mechanical preliminary recount (note that Palm Beach County was the only county which had not been included in the Secretary of State's announcement Thursday 9 November of the results of the preliminary recount which produced a +961 margin for Bush overall with 66 of 67 counties reporting [the 67th county being Palm Beach])
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.
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).
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.