Progressive Politics Research and Commentary by Janette Rainwater
 

GORE WON ! (This is the blow-by-blow version.)

For the shorter version---

A.  His popular vote lead over Bush in the 2000 presidential election was 540,000.
That's five times the lead Kennedy had over Nixon in 1960.

B. The analysis commissioned by the Miami Herald indicates that Gore would have won Florida by 23,000 votes if all the state's contested ballots had been completely counted.

C.  With Florida's 25 electoral votes Gore goes over the top to win the electoral vote, 292-246, rather than the "official" December 18 count of 271-267 for President-appointee Bush.
So how did they manage to hijack the election? In more or less chronological order:

1.  Florida Secretary of State Katharine Harris (co-chair of the Florida for Bush campaign committee) scrubbed the voter registry of thousands of purported "felons" based on a flawed list from ChoicePoint, a private company with deep Republican ties. (Gregory Palast in salon.com, December 4th.) Many of those listed had committed misdemeanors, not felonies. Many had committed felonies in other states, served their time, and had their voting rights restored. Those thousands illegally denied the right to vote were disproportionately African-American; Florida African-Americans voted 93 percent for Gore.   "Hey, Al. take a look at this," Greg Palast wrote in the UK Observer on December 10th. "Every time I cut open an alligator, I find the bones of more Gore voters."

2.  In violation of the law Republican officials in Seminole and Martin counties were allowed to add missing ID numbers to absentee ballots that would otherwise have been disqualified. A similar "privilege" was not offered for Democratic ballots.

Absentee vote cases provide evidence of Republican vote-rigging

3.  On Election Day thousands of people in minority precincts were turned away from the polls, polling locations were moved without previous notice, and polling places "ran out" of ballots. There was a road block set up by Florida Highway Patrol officers near a black voting precinct in Tallahassee.

Florida A&M students describe Republican attack on voting rights.

In Palm Beach County Jewish senior citizens complained about the new "butterfly ballot" in which candidates were, contrary to state law, arranged in two columns. They feared they may have mistakenly voted for anti-semitic Pat Buchanan.

4.  There were some most unusual events on Election Night. First, the exit polls conducted by the Voter News Service indicated that Gore had carried Florida by 100,000 votes. So an early award was given to Gore fifty minutes after the polls had closed in the majority of the state, but ten minutes before their closing in the western part of the panhandle which is on Central Time. We were then treated to CNN interviewing George W. en famille with George Sr. and Barbara with George declaring that there had been a mistake, that he "knew" he had carried Florida. (This was without precedent. Heretofore, the public had not heard from either candidate until one conceded and then the other announced victory.) Shortly thereafter, the networks put Florida into the "undecided" category. Soon it was clear from the other returns that Florida and its 25 electoral votes would decide the election. Then at 2:16 AM Fox News Channel declared Bush the winner and the other networks quickly followed suit. The call was made by John Ellis without any input from the Voter News Service, the consortium which is supposed to make the projections for the TV news outlets. Ellis is George and Jeb Bush's first cousin and, as he later told The New Yorker, was in telephone communication with George W. and Florida Governor Jeb Bush all evening.

The US election: The conspiracy begins to unravel

How Bush's Man at Fox News worked to shape the outcome

Gore, who had telephoned a concession to Bush, was literally on his way to make a televised concession speech when he was advised that Bush's supposed lead in Florida was dwindling rapidly.

5.  By daybreak Bush's "lead" was around 1725 out of 6 million cast, thus triggering an automatic machine recount of the vote which reduces Bush's lead to 327. A staggering number of ballots had been rejected by the machines for over-voting or under-voting, especially in the urban districts still serviced by obsolete Votomatics, With these 1960s punch-card machines the rejection rate was 3.9 percent as compared with the rejection rate of 1.4 percent in the 43 counties (typically Republican) that had spent the money to upgrade to optical scanners.

The "butterfly ballot" caused 19,000 voters in Palm Beach County to vote for two candidates, Gore and Buchanan. There were reports that the ballots in heavily Jewish districts had been misprinted, so that the names did not line up in the manner demonstrated on television by right-wing commentators who seemed to deride the mental capabilities of these mostly elderly voters. Buchanan received 3407 votes in Palm Beach as compared to 561 in Miami-Dade County. "I don't think we have 3000 Nazis in Palm Beach County," said a county commissioner. "If me and Pat Buchanan are winning precincts in my district, there is something wrong," said Democratic Congressman Robert Wexler.
Something rotten in the state of Florida [9 November]

The conspiracy against democratic rights continues [10 November]

6.  Teams of attorney for both Bush and Gore converged on Florida. The Gore team wanted a manual recount to determine "voter intent". (If the Votomatic tray that receives the chads has not been cleaned out, even the most vigorous punch will not dislodge the chad completely, resulting in a "hanging chad" or a "pregnant chad" which the machine will ignore, but which is quite obvious on manual inspection.) The Bush team was determined that there not be a recount, knowing that the results would not favor Bush.

The Bush team maintained that hand recounts are inaccurate. Yet Bush supported and signed a Texas law that decrees that a hand recount is the "preferred procedure" in the event of a contested election. The Bush team asked for a hand recount in New Mexico and brother Governor Jeb Bush has had hand recounts in previous elections in Florida. So much for consistency.

The Gore team asked for hand recounts in Palm Beach, Broward, Volusia and Miami-Dade Counties. After a partial recount in Palm Beach County produced a significant number of votes for Gore, the Bush campaign filed suit in federal court on November 11, seeking an injunction against these recounts. The county election officials voted 2-1 to continue with a full county recount..

Bush seeks to block counting of Florida votes [13 November]

7.  November 14:- Secretary of State Harris, ignoring the hand recounts in progress in three counties, certified that the vote for the 67 counties put Bush in the lead by 306 votes. She said she will not accept the results of hand recounts and will certify the final count after the deadline for absentee ballots is passed on November 18.

8.  November 15:- Gore made a public address in which he suggested that he and Bush agree to abide by the total of the votes so far certified plus the overseas votes plus any change that would occur as the result of the hand recounts then in progress. He indicated that he was also willing to accept the results of hand recounts in all 67 counties, if Bush would prefer that. If Bush would agree to this, he would agree to have no legal actions no matter how the vote came out. This proposed "deal", as Bush handlers quickly named it, was similar to proposals advanced by several leading newspapers to end the conflict and the escalating acrimony.

9.  November 17:- In the morning a county judge ruled that Harris had the right to refuse the recounted ballots. In the afternoon the Florida Supreme Court ruled that Harris may not proceed with her planned final certification the next day until the court rules on the admissibility of recounts. Miami-Dade County, reversing an earlier decision, voted for a full recount. And, to cap the Bush reversals, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals denied the Republican lawsuit which sought to suppress the hand recount throughout the state.

Court slows Bush grab for power [18 November]

10.  November 21:- The Florida Supreme Court ruled in favor of hand recounts and gave the counties until November 26 to file results. It validated the votes gained so far for Gore, reducing Bush's lead to 154 votes. It was clear to all that a manual recount of the 45,000 undervotes in the four counties would cause Bush's razor-thin margin to vanish. The Bush campaign retaliated by describing the decision as "an outrageous act of judicial overreaching" and appealed to the US Supreme Court for an emergency review on the grounds that a recount in these counties constituted a denial of equal protection because similar recounts were not conducted in the other counties. Of course Bush had strenuously opposed recounts in the other counties and had allowed the deadline to pass for asking for such recounts. Bush representative James Baker hints that the Florida legislature may convene and select electors based on the numbers certified by Harris.

Right to vote upheld in Florida S C decision on recounts [23 November]

Bush campaign operatives and the anti-Castro Radio Mambi put out the call for protestors to converge on the Miami Canvassing Board the next day.

11.  November 22:- The Miami-Dade Canvassing Board began the manual recount of 10,000 undervotes in that county. A mob of about 150 at a signal from Rep. John Sweeney ("Shut it down!") began pounding on the doors of the elections department, chanting, "Stop the count, stop the fraud!" Several people were trampled and manhandled as the mob attempted to rush the doors. The crowd chased the county democratic chairman, screaming that he was stealing a ballot. He had to be rescued by the police. When officials were told that a mob of 1000 Cuban-Americans were on the way, they caved in and canceled the recount, claiming that there was not enough time to complete it. According to the Wall Street Journal of November 27 the office of Republican Congressional Whip Tom DeLay was in charge of the operation, making "an offer that many staffers couldn't refuse: free air fare, accommodations and food in the Sunshine State-all paid for by the Bush campaign." Mission accomplished in Miami, the group moved on to harass election workers in Broward and West Palm Beach. Thanksgiving evening Bush and Cheney called the leaders of the mob team, staff members of Republican congressmen, to congratulate them on their accomplishment.

Anatomy of a right-wing riot-- the Republican mob attack in Miami-Dade

Bush campaign organized Republican riot to halt Miami-Dade recount

12.  November 26:- Secretary of State Katharine Harris certified the final election results in an elaborate ceremony that was televised nationally. Bush's lead was cut in half by the Broward recount to 537 votes. It would have been reduced by another 200 votes had Harris been willing to accept the Palm Beach partial recount which came in two hours past her arbitrary deadline of 5 PM. The election officials had worked straight through the Thanksgiving holiday, but the disruptions and disputes of the Republican monitors had prevented the timely completion of the task.

Joseph Lieberman, the Democratic vice-presidential candidate, announced that he and Gore would contest the official tally in the Florida courts. (The contest phase can not happen until the after the official certification and the "protest phase" is over.) Later that evening Bush, quite ignoring Lieberman and the constitutional issues, proclaimed himself to be the president-elect and demanded that Clinton make the presidential transition team benefits available to him immediately.

13.  November 30:- The Republican-controlled legislature voted to convene a special session to choose a slate of pro-Bush electors. This was a fail-safe measure in the event that the recounts ordered by the courts would give the state to Gore. Governor Jeb Bush endorsed the action.

Florida legislature moves to override vote and name pro-Bush electors

14.  December 4:- The US Supreme Court vacated the Florida Supreme Court decision of November 21. The Court unanimously remanded the case back to the Florida Supreme Court with the instruction to clarify the grounds on which they had overruled the election authorities and extended the deadline for certification. The implication was that the Florida's constitutional guarantee of the right of the people to vote for the US president was in conflict with the federal constitution's provision that the state legislatures have the power to appoint presidential electors.

Court rulings in US election crisis attack democratic rights [5 December]

US Supreme Court hearing highlights state conspiracy against democratic rights [2 December]

15.  December 8:- The Florida Supreme Court ordered the immediate manual recount of 43,000 undervotes statewide. This ruling overturned the previous decision by Circuit Court Judge N. Sanders Sauls in which he rejected Gore's contest of the certified election results, saying that hand recounts in selected counties were not warranted and that local canvassing boards had "discretion" to reject lawfully cast votes. During the trial Bush's own expert witness conceded that manual recounts are needed to tabulate votes in close elections where Vote-O-Matic machines are used.

Bush attack on voting rights continues in arguments before Florida Supreme Court

16.  December 9:- The US Supreme Court ordered a halt to the hand recount in Florida. Justices Stevens, Breyer, Ginsburg and Souter dissented, stating: "On questions of state law, we [the Court] have consistently respected the opinions of the highest courts of the States.... As a more fundamental matter, the Florida court's ruling reflects the basic principle, inherent in our Constitution and our democracy, that every legal vote should be counted." Justice Scalia, the only one of the Gang of Five to issue an opinion, took the position that "there is no right of suffrage" in a presidential election. To count the votes would "threaten irreparable harm to petitioner [George W. Bush], and to the country, by casting a cloud upon what he claims to be the legitimacy of his election." They scheduled a hearing for Monday, December 11.

Supreme Court halts Florida vote count: A black day for American democracy

17.  December 12:- The US Supreme Court, in a decision as partisan as the unconscionable Dred Scott decision of 1857, permanently halted the Florida recount, thus handing the presidency to George W. Bush. The Gang of Five baldly stated: "The individual citizen has no federal constitutional right to vote for electors for the President of the United States unless and until the state legislature chooses a statewide election as the means to implement its power to appoint members of the Electoral College." They added further that the state legislature could, at any time, revoke the popular vote for president and "if it so chooses, select the electors itself."

Associate Justice John Paul Stevens stated in his dissenting opinion: "In the interest of finality, however, the majority effectively orders the disenfranchisement of an unknown number of voters whose ballots reveal their intent-- and are therefore legal votes under state law-- but were for some reason rejected by the ballot-counting machines.... Although we may never know with complete certainty the identity of the winner of this year's Presidential election, the identity of the loser is perfectly clear. It is the Nation's confidence in the judge as an impartial guardian of the rule of law."
Two members of the Gang of Five have conflicts of interest with a Bush victory sufficient to cause more ethical judges to recuse themselves. Thomas' wife Virginia is employed by the Heritage Foundation, a right-wing think tank, where she is processing resumés for appointments in a Bush administration. Scalia's son Eugene is a partner in the Washington law office of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher. One of the senior partners there is Theodore Olson, who argued Bush's case before the Supreme Court and is supposed to be on Bush's short list for a Supreme Court nomination. Additionally, Justice O'Connor, aged 70, has been postponing retirement until a Republican president takes office. It could also be argued that Rehnquist and Scalia would favor the succession of Bush as a president more likely to appoint new justices that would be their clones and cement their judicial philosophy for the next three decades.


Democrats prostrate before Supreme Court assault on democratic rights [12 December]

Family ties, political bias linked US Supreme Court justices to Bush camp

And, finally, in case you didn't understand how the Supremes could have reasoned their way to their final decision, this interview with attorney Mark Levine should make it perfectly clear!
A Layman's Guide To The Supreme Court Decision in Bush v. Gore, by Mark Levine, Esq.

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.This site was created on March 20, 1997.

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