Chalk this one up as one for the history books. "A presidential election that is the statistical equivalence of tossing a coin ten feet in the air, and having it land on its' edge." That's what the media wonks are saying.
But, is it really? Gore won the popular vote (we are told) by a slim 300,000 votes nation wide. That means it was statistically (within the margin or counting error) a tie. The demographics of the vote tell another story. The number of counties won by Gore was 677, while Bush won 2,434. To see how this plays out in terms of landmass, check out this link. http://www.geocities.com/diosprometheus/election.jpg
The issue that decides the outcome is of course, the electoral vote count. Any time the presidential election is a close one, the question of the fairness of the Constitutional electoral system is debated. The side losing almost always tends to say that the electoral system is unfair. Whether it is, or is not, is a good question for debate. But, the fact is, it is the method that is written into law.
The law (based on the Constitution) is the only thing that this country has that makes us a country. Without strict obedience to the rule of law, our nation becomes a third world country, subject to the whims and winds of whoever musters the backing of brute force. The Democrats in Florida and in the Al Gore election camp, with their team of professional election thieves ala Bill Daley, are challenging the rule of law.
Florida election clearly establishes the rules and procedures for conducting elections in that state. In Florida, the Secretary of State "certifies" the election ballot count, and the law there says this must happen seven days from the date of the election. There is a provision for recounting ballots in the event of a close vote. The law says this will be done in the same manner as the original count. In other words, the machine ballot punch cards will be run through the machines a second time in order to ensure that all valid ballots are tallied. The law specifies that a "hand count" may be conducted in the event that the recount indicates that significant "irregularities" or machine error occurred during the first count. The recounts that took place under the law did not so indicate. In fact, they demonstrated a close consistency with the original count. But, for the Democrats, THAT was indicative of irregularities sufficient to justify a "hand" re-recount. This is where a departure from the "rule of law" began, and to this date, is continuing.
The Secretary of State, upon seeing that "extra-legal" hand re-counts were being conducted (in only the counties where Gore had already established as much as a 9 to 1 victory) announced that she intended to follow the law in Florida, and that she would "certify" the legal and official ballot count that included the legal recounts seven days from the election date as per Florida law. The Gore legal team went to court to attempt to stop the Secretary from acting according to her charter, and the law. A Democrat judge rejected their initial court challenge. They then appealed his ruling to the Florida Supreme Court. There, the seven Democrat appointees ruled that the Secretary of State could not certify the election results until the hand counts in the selected counties was complete, or until Sunday, 26 November, 2000.whichever came first. They did not specify whether the Secretary was directed (by them, or by law) to accept the hand recount as valid.
This curious ruling unabashedly, and without explanation, tossed out the duly legislated, long-standing election laws of the State of Florida. The justices clearly broke new ground, in that they established their intent to "legislate" from the bench. Unfortunately for the Democrats, this is unconstitutional. The "Separation of Powers" clause of the Constitution clearly forbids such action on the part of the courts. Any eighth grade (private school) student would be able to explain why, in the United States, the courts do not "create" laws.
Now the Bush strategists had a number of avenues to pursue in this circus of political skullduggery. They have taken the quiet road of simply trusting in the rule of law. The media featured numerous demagogues from the Gore camp each day proclaiming that all they are doing is trying to ensure that "the will of the people" is protected. By contesting every single military absentee ballot (4 to 1 Republican), they obviously mean "the will of the civilian people."
The Bush team has remained steadfast in their contention that the rule of law IS the will of the people. When Al Gore suggested to manually recount the entire state (a process that could have taken six weeks or more) the Republicans were well advised not to agree. To do so would have been to concede that either this was within the law, or that they were as willing to violate election law as the Democrats, and would have muddied the waters indeed.
The Gore strategy is simple and blatant. They insisted on hand recounts in the counties they won overwhelmingly because a nine to one ratio in his favor ensured that any added or contestable votes would go to Gore by that same ratio, or better. They knew that their disingenuous "offer" to the Republicans for an illegal hand recount of the entire state would be rejected because a winner has nothing to gain by such a recount.
Facing the impending certification of the Bush victory, the Gore camp is suggesting that the two candidates "meet and agree" on a process that would solve this manufactured crises. Again, this is disingenuous. These two have no business OR authority to "come to an agreement" that is not provided for by the rule of law. The law in Florida and the rest of the states simply says that the candidate with the most legal votes, wins. How dare the Democrats suggest that, because the vote was close in one state, the candidates get together and decide ANYTHING. The people have decided. Gore lost! Unless we are to abandon law as rule in this country, the Democrats must accept their defeat, and stop trying to overturn the election by any means possible.