years American conservatives championed the rights of voters
against judges. Liberals, unable to get their way at the
ballot box, they would argue, resort to the courts to ram
their agenda down the throats of an unwilling populace.
Busing, affirmative action, abortion, prayer in schools
on issue after issue, unelected judges would overturn
the will of the American electorate. The voters of California
overwhelmingly endorse Proposition 187 on illegal immigration.
Along comes a judge to say the people chose wrong and throws
it out. Today conservatives flee in terror from elections.
No hand count in the three Democratic counties, they shriek.
No statewide hand count either. The courts must step in
and make the counters stop. Thank God for the Electoral
College! There has to be some restraint on the will of the
majority. Small states minorities, in other words
must be able to trump large states.
Gore won the national popular vote by a margin in excess
of 330,000. This is bigger than Kennedy’s margin over Nixon
in 1960, and Nixon’s margin over Humphrey in 1968. Anywhere
else, Gore would by now be President-elect. Yet conservatives
seem oblivious to this, as they tout cheerfully, first,
the 300+, and now the 500+ vote margin by which George W.
Bush got "elected" President. Even that margin
looks very shaky. Gore picked up 215 votes in Palm Beach
County, though Secretary of State Katherine Harris refused
to accept them. He gained 157 votes in Miami-Dade County
when the count was halted. There are also the 51 votes Gore
gained in Nassau County on the second machine count that
were discounted when the county decided to go back to its
original tally. If you count these votes, Bush’s margin
is just over 100 votes. And that’s using Palm Beach County
and Miami-Dade County’s strict standards with regard to
the "dimpled chads." A "dimpled chad"
in the Presidential vote would only be counted so long as
there were no perforations on the rest of the ballot.
there is also the issue of federalism. All matters must
be left to the states except, of course, when they
get in the way of the conservative agenda. When that happens
the US Supreme Court must intervene. The insufferable James
Baker complains that standards for counting ballots vary
from one county canvassing board to another. Aren’t conservatives
supposed to be in favor of local diversity? Doubtless, conservatives
will hail any move by the Florida legislature to appoint
a slate of electors ahead of any decision by the Florida
courts on the election contests as a triumph of voters over
judges. Should the US Supreme Court overturn the Florida
Supreme Court and rule that votes counted after November
14 should be ignored, that decision in turn will be hailed
as bringing "finality" and "closure"
to the process.
that’s Tweedledee. What about Tweedledum? Al Gore wants
every vote in Florida counted except for those that may
not have been cast for him. The intent of the voter is all-important
when it comes to deciphering the slightest indentation on
the so-called "dimpled Chad," but not when it
comes to the absentee ballots. No postmark? The vote shouldn’t
count. In Seminole County, Republican Party workers corrected
incomplete applications for absentee ballots. They didn’t
fill out the ballots, mind you. But it may have been a violation
of the law. State law requires absentee voters to supply
identifying information themselves, including a voter ID
number, when asking for an absentee ballot. An "independent"
lawsuit launched by a Democrat asks that all 15,000 absentee
ballots cast in Seminole County be disqualified because
there is no way to ascertain which ones involve applications
altered by GOP workers. Bush received 4,797 more votes than
Gore in the absentee ballot count in Seminole County. Gore
has raised no objections to this summary disenfranchisement
of 15,000 Florida voters.
Miami-Dade County Gore is not interested in a complete hand
count. He only wants to pore over the tiny little marks
on the 10,000 ballots rejected by the machine. But, as Mickey
Kaus has pointed out, "there are…more overvotes than
undervotes, and a hand count could change an overvote to
a vote (e.g. a voter scrawls ‘I punched two holes but I
want to vote for Bush’ on the card) or a vote to an overvote
(e.g. there is both a punched hole and a barely hanging
Chad for the same office). If this theory is true, it’s
unfair to count only the undervotes, as Gore lawyer David
Boies has been urging." Then there was the extraordinary
count in Broward County. Like its counterparts in Palm Beach
and Miami-Dade, the Broward canvassing board accepted the
"dimpled chads" as long as votes for several offices
on the ballot were not fully punched through. However, where
only the Presidential vote was flawed, the Broward board
looked at whether the voter picked candidates from the same
party down the ballot and took that as a sign of intent
in his Presidential "vote." This, of course, is
outrageous. People split their vote all the time. By no
stretch of the imagination, can a vote for a Congressman
be interpreted as endorsement of the party’s Presidential
Yet, through his relentless ambition Al Gore has inadvertently
undermined the very system that had nurtured him and in
which he so desperately wanted to succeed. Suddenly people
are discussing the fairness of elections in which people
have to make do with ancient and decrepit voting machines.
Gore was quite right to talk about the "old and cheap,
outdated machinery…usually found in areas with populations
that are of lower income, minorities, seniors on fixed incomes."
Millions of votes are lost in every election. 2.5 percent
of the votes cast in the 1996 Presidential election were
discounted. This is how the Palm Beach Post described
an inspection of the Palm Beach County ballots: "Several
had ragged holes from voters inserting the cards upside-down,
forcing the bottom of the card over the red pins at the
top of the voting machine. Others had every imaginable puncture
on the same card, from precision punches to hanging chads
to bull's-eye pinholes that failed to dislodge the Chad"
has never raised any of these issues before because he was
perfectly happy with the system. He was perfectly happy
to shake down the corporations for cash. He was perfectly
happy to do the corporations’ bidding whether on NAFTA or
in going to war against the European Union about bananas
as reward for Chiquita’s generous campaign contribution.
He was perfectly happy to keep third party candidates out
of the Presidential debates. He was perfectly happy with
the Electoral College system. Why should the votes of Arkansas
count for more than the votes of Illinois? What did he care
as long as it looked like he would lose the popular vote
but win the electoral vote?
has blundered his way into the truth. It is in the interest
of America’s elites to have as few people vote as possible.
That way they can get to do what they want without too much
disturbance. Hence the complex ballots that confuse people.
Hence the machines that fail to register votes. Hence the
insuperable obstacles to third parties getting on the ballot.
Hence the lifelong prohibition on convicted felons
a substantial section of the population from voting.
The Wall Street Journal, as ever the voice of America’s
corporate boardroom, summed up the elite’s view admirably.
in OpinionJournal the other day, Kimberley Strassel
declared: "We know that a lot of Floridians have
no sense of statehood, no pride and no backbone….We watched
as Floridians, rather than feel reviled by the dozens of
trial lawyers who oozed into Tallahassee to take over their
courts, sign the petitions David Boies handed them. We looked
at them and thought: These people would be neighbors from
hell. We now know, worst of all, that tens of thousands
of Floridians are very, very, very stupid. They are so stupid,
in fact, that they think being stupid is something to be
proud of. Not only were they too dumb to punch a hole either
in the correct spot or fully through the card, but they
aren’t even embarrassed by their ineptitude. They have actually
committed their stupidity to history by signing their name
to court documents attesting to their simple-mindedness.
This has turned Florida into a national joke."
people are so stupid, they really should not be allowed
to vote at all. Indeed, why have elections at all? People
should just do as they are told. And thus our liberal and
conservative elites come to the conclusion Bertolt Brecht
wrote about sarcastically many years ago: The people have
failed us. It is time to elect a new people.