Tags: Florida | Supreme | Court | Punts | for | Now

Florida Supreme Court Punts, for Now

Thursday, 16 November 2000 12:00 AM

They issued a one-paragraph, non-ruling ruling that made no decision on the only question of import in the matter pertaining to the certification of votes in the state: Which votes will be included in the final tally?

At this point in time, the secretary of state, pursuant to Florida election law, has made her determination that hand counts are not valid for inclusion in the final statewide vote, and that decision stands. Period.

What remains is for the overseas absentee ballots, received between Election Day and midnight Friday, to be counted and added to the current vote totals, which Governor Bush leads by 300 votes.

Many observers believe these absentee ballots will also favor Bush, as have such ballots in past presidential elections. Of course, this remains to be seen. These tallies will be known sometime Saturday.

On Friday, a local Florida judge will issue a ruling at 10 a.m. regarding the decision by the secretary of state that hand counts in this instance are not within election law provisions. This opinion will certainly be appealed by whichever party is unsuccessful.

Legislative intent, which is operative when interpreting a statute, is clear in that the only case for allowing hand counts is malfunction of voting machinery. The law was passed in response to some elections in the 1980s, where mechanical and computerized voting equipment failed, to provide a backup in such cases.

A separate federal case is pending before the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, where the Bush campaign is seeking relief with regard to the inequity of including hand counts in the Florida vote.

As for the Gore campaign, it will most assuredly continue its legal onslaught, which will ultimately culminate in a challenge to the anticipated final count, to be certified Saturday by the secretary of state after accepting the results of the absentee ballots.

All of which is a long-winded manner of saying the Florida Supreme Court did nothing of legal consequence in its non-ruling ruling, which said, in effect: "If Palm Beach wants to keep counting by hand, they are free to do so. But we haven’t even considered what may or may not rule with regard to action taken by the Secretary of State."

From a public relations standpoint, the Gore camp is already attempting to make hay out of this rather insignificant opinion. It is obviously hoping to be able to show large ‘newly discovered’ votes so as to make a case in the court of public opinion that its candidate should rightfully be declared the winner in Florida and of the presidency.

It should be apparent to anyone observing the chad circus sideshow, that the hand-count process is farcical at best and a cynical charade to steal votes at worst.

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Dan Frisa represented New York in the United States Congress and served four terms in the New York State Assembly.

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They issued a one-paragraph, non-ruling ruling that made no decision on the only question of import in the matter pertaining to the certification of votes in the state: Which votes will be included in the final tally? At this point in time, the secretary of state, pursuant...
Florida,Supreme,Court,Punts,,for,Now
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2000-00-16
Thursday, 16 November 2000 12:00 AM
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