January 22, 2006

Al Gore: The Man Who Should Be President

When Al Gore spoke this week, he showed what we should demand of our leaders: honesty and forthrightness.

We know that in 2000, when Americans went to the polls to select a president, Al Gore won the popular vote. Furthermore, he won the Florida vote when all the overvotes were counted [PDF] (votes where someone selected Gore through the voting machine technology AND also wrote in his name). Florida was legally bound to count those votes because their law specifically called out that votes were to be count where the intent of the voter could be discerned. And in the case of the overcounts that intent had NO ambiguity. The only reason the Supreme Court ruled that the equal protection clause was relevant was because the Florida Supreme Court did not provide a standard for counting votes where there was an ambiguity in whether the ballot expressed a certain vote or not.

The Florida Supreme Court has ordered that the intent of the voter be discerned from such ballots. For purposes of resolving the equal protection challenge, it is not necessary to decide whether the Florida Supreme Court had the authority under the legislative scheme for resolving election disputes to define what a legal vote is and to mandate a manual recount implementing that definition. The recount mechanisms implemented in response to the decisions of the Florida Supreme Court do not satisfy the minimum requirement for non-arbitrary treatment of voters necessary to secure the fundamental right. Florida’s basic command for the count of legally cast votes is to consider the “intent of the voter.” Gore v. Harris, ___ So. 2d, at ___ (slip op., at 39). This is unobjectionable as an abstract proposition and a starting principle. The problem inheres in the absence of specific standards to ensure its equal application. The formulation of uniform rules to determine intent based on these recurring circumstances is practicable and, we conclude, necessary.

So what did the US Supreme Court say about the overvotes so as to guarantee that the legitmate votes could not be counted? They noted that there were at least 110,000 overvotes outstanding, but because it would take too much effort and the election officials couldn't use computers to discern the intent of the voter, these votes would have to be ignored for expediency's sake.

Given the Court's assessment that the recount process underway was probably being conducted in an unconstitutional manner, the Court stayed the order directing the recount so it could hear this case and render an expedited decision. The contest provision, as it was mandated by the State Supreme Court, is not well calculated to sustain the confidence that all citizens must have in the outcome of elections. The State has not shown that its procedures include the necessary safeguards. The problem, for instance, of the estimated 110,000 overvotes has not been addressed, although Chief Justice Wells called attention to the concern in his dissenting opinion. See ____ So. 2d, at ____, n. 26 (slip op., at 45, n. 26).

Upon due consideration of the difficulties identified to this point, it is obvious that the recount cannot be conducted in compliance with the requirements of equal protection and due process without substantial additional work. It would require not only the adoption (after opportunity for argument) of adequate statewide standards for determining what is a legal vote, and practicable procedures to implement them, but also orderly judicial review of any disputed matters that might arise. In addition, the Secretary of State has advised that the recount of only a portion of the ballots requires that the vote tabulation equipment be used to screen out undervotes, a function for which the machines were not designed. If a recount of overvotes were also required, perhaps even a second screening would be necessary. Use of the equipment for this purpose, and any new software developed for it, would have to be evaluated for accuracy by the Secretary of State, as required by Fla. Stat. §101.015 (2000).

Notice that the only reason the opinion said that computers needed to be used in this case was because Katherine Harris, the Secretary of State, declared that they were required. Too bad a second screening (hand counting is illegal???) would have been necessary to figure out who really won the election. And now that we know that despite the numbers of people who were denied their right to vote, by just counting the votes where there was no ambiguity at all, Gore won the election. And we Americans have been foisted with a fraud who has used his presidency to damage our constitution, our good name and our future.

Avedon Carol has long written about the stolen election of 2000. This week she had an impassioned piece about why Al Gore should be the next president. My colleague, Marie, on the Left Coaster expressed the same sentiment as well. Today, I want to add my voice to those who believe that Al Gore should be our candidate in 2008. He has the courage and the wisdom to help undo the tragic consequences of turning our country over to a liar and a cheat who used his presidency to divide and plunder our country.

Posted by Mary at January 22, 2006 02:33 PM | US Politics | Technorati links |

Hear, hear! Gore for President! Of course, who's to say whether or not Gore would retain his backbone on the campaign trail?

Also, "due (questionable content?!) p-r-o-c-e-s-s is only important if it's not too much trouble" (where "too much" is "hand-counting ballots and using a bit of judgement")? What the heck? How does that stand as legal reasoning? Note that this same "too much trouble" argument has been used again recently: "habeas corpus is important as long as it's not too much trouble."

Also also, it's Katherine, not Kathleen Harris.

Posted by: sean at January 22, 2006 05:43 PM

Just FYI, some sort of "inappropriate content" filter thought I had put "r-o-c-e-s-s" (without dashes) instead of p-r-o-c-e-s-s (without dashes), and objected to the former for some reason.

Posted by: sean at January 22, 2006 05:44 PM

"I'm Evollvving." - William Hurt, The Big Chill

I really like the new Al Gore, but he's not running for office now and I think he's still finding our who he is.

Whatever is, is.

If he runs for office, what path will he choose? If he turns to the DLC ... that way leads to anger. Anger leads to ... a long festering resentment at having an election stolen from you.

If he runs as an Independent, perhaps.

Meanwhile, he's kicking butt and if he can continue to act as a force for positive change, then maybe he's found his niche. If so, that's "A Good Thing." He'll stick with it, see it through.

Posted by: Michael Miller at January 22, 2006 06:17 PM

Thanks for the correction, sean. And also the note about filter - I'll track down the problem tonight.

And yes, I tend to agree with you Michael. One of the things I really like about Gore is that he doesn't seem to be consumed with anger, but does seem willing to speak out in defense of our Constitution and our country. I hope he doesn't lose that. (I felt the same about him when he talked passionately about the environment and our responsibility to our descendants.)

Posted by: Mary at January 22, 2006 08:13 PM

I think I found the problem:

testing: "due process"

Posted by: Mary at January 22, 2006 08:15 PM

!!! GORE-KERRY !!!

This is my dream ticket.

Tell Hillary, please don't run. Such a candidacy would embroil the nation in the worst smear politics the moral majority can devise and revel in. Moderate republican women won't be won over, no way. Hillary should spare us even the prospective bid, which only serves as bile for the rabid anti-Clintonistas. Though I have no question many have more than adequate credentials, this ass-backward nation is not ready for a woman president.

Writer Paul Loeb offers an excellent assessment of the Alito nomination with "Filibuster Evastion" - Online Journal

Posted by: Arthur at January 22, 2006 09:07 PM

No matter what happened in 2000, Al Gore will be elected for US President in 2008. He will be Inarguarated in 2009.


Posted by: rog at January 23, 2006 04:13 AM

Al Gore is back!

Posted by: A-dub at January 23, 2006 09:03 AM

I completely disagree with your thesis that Al Gore represents "honesty and forthrightness." If the man was so honest and forthright, he would indeed have been sworn in as president in 2000.

He gave up the fight to challenge the Florida vote far too easily. As the president of the senate, he should have encouraged (browbeat, if need be) at least one democratic senator to sign the complaint by the Congressional Black Caucus.

Instead of standing up for voting integrity when it counted, he turned his back and walked away. John Kerry did the exact same thing in Ohio in 2004.

It's simply amazing that both Gore and Kerry won the national election for president and both handed it over to the Bush Administration on a silver platter, yet people now are singing their praises.


Posted by: The Rambling Taoist at January 24, 2006 09:38 AM