continues to focus on Florida
Hugh Van der Veer,
Ten days after the November 7 election, the U.S. still
has not chosen a successor for President Bill Clinton.
The election has come down to Florida, where the original
count gave Governor George W. Bush the lead and thus, in theory, the presidency.
However, the margin of Governor Bush’s victory was so small that the Florida
election law mandated a recount.
This recount was initially scheduled to be completed
by this past Tuesday at 5:00 p.m. At that time, Florida’s Secretary of
State Katherine Harris announced that after the recount, Governor Bush
had a 300-vote lead over the Vice President.
However, the overseas ballots, which traditionally
lean Republican, are still being counted through today, although they
will likely maintain his lead. It seems unlikely that the election will
be decided by the end of today, though, as a variety of lawsuits are still
waiting to be heard.
One problem is the unresolved ballot issue in Palm
Beach and Broward Counties, Florida. The Palm Beach ballots have come
under a great deal of criticism for their design.
In order to vote, a person must punch out a hole for
his or her candidate. Sometimes, however, the hole is ambiguous, and the
computer cannot read the ballot and therefore disregards it. The Democrats
have said that they are hoping that a manual recount of the ballots will
give Gore a majority in Florida.
Broward County is having many of the same problems,
but officials have not yet decided to perform a hand recount. However,
that decision might be made for them if a Democratic lawsuit succeeds
in mandating a recount.
Questions still remain as to whether these recounts
will even matter, though. Bush spokesperson Karen Hughes said she believes
that “counties controlled by Democrats have said they may continue a manual
count. Yet if they go forward after the deadline, these Democratic counties
are…attempting to reinterpret the results.”
Another problem that has surfaced in the past couple
days in Florida deals with incorrect votes. Democrats contend that the
ballots in some counties are misleading. They argue that many Gore supporters
failed to understand the punch ballot and voted for Pat Buchanan instead
Democratic lawyers are scheduled for a court hearing
today where they will try to determine the constitutionality of a revote.
This is a very controversial topic, though, and will likely not be decided
until it reaches the Florida Supreme Court. In general, most, if not all,
of the lawsuits will likely be heard by the Florida Supreme Court, as
both Democrats and Republicans agree that the decisions should be made
by the same court.
No one seems to know when and how the court will decide,
and so the results of this election may not be known for some time. However,
if litigation does not affect the election, an unlikely scenario, then
the absentee ballots and recounts should all be tabulated by Monday night.
As it stands now, it appears that the Republicans will
control the House and Senate by only the narrowest of margins. Additionally,
the next president will have to govern when he has only won by a handful
of votes. Many have begun to question what the government will be able
to accomplish regardless of who wins.
Leaders like Senator Trent Lott (R) have said that
they believe that, without a clear mandate, the Republicans and Democrats
will have to work together at a time when everyone agrees that there are
vast ideological differences between them. Lott did try to reassure Americans
by noting that President Jefferson, our third president, was chosen only
after 36 ballots in Congress, and he did okay.