Tags: Kerry | Legal | Team | Prepares | Contest | States

Kerry Legal Team Prepares to Contest 5 States

Thursday, 14 October 2004 12:00 AM

Marc Elias, the general counsel for the Kerry camp, has revealed that the campaign intends to be able to "fight five statewide recounts and still have funds available to the campaign."

"It's a case of Florida gone national," comments University of Virginia professor Larry Sabato, "They're ready, and I take that as a threat, not a promise."

The lawsuits may materialize even in the wake of a decisive Bush victory, according to a report in the New York Post Thursday.

Both sides are on record as saying they will move quickly to challenge results in states where the margin is “narrow.”

If such reasoning was used four years ago, there could have been dramatic recounts in states other than Florida.

In 2000, the gap between the winner and the loser in five states was less than one-half of 1 percent of the votes cast. Florida was determined by 537 votes.

But New Mexico's result was even closer – just 366 votes. Iowa was decided by 4,144, Wisconsin by 5,708 and Oregon by 6,765.

The fact is Democrats and Republicans alike are busily recruiting litigators, poring over state laws and pulling together assault teams of lawyers to respond to any problems on Election Day.

"We're working to train lawyers to make sure they understand the rules," Bush campaign manager Ken Mehlman says.

But the Democrats may be winning this effort. For one thing, political experts say, Democrats have an easier time getting pro bono work from public interest and trial lawyers who want George Bush defeated.

The Democrats have also poured enormous resources into their get-out-the-vote effort – with some estimates ranging between $100 million to $300 million for the closing days – and presumably the aftermath of the election.

Both sides are reportedly targeting as many as 28,000 voting precincts in 17 states that are expected to be close.

On the Democrat play board are inner-city districts where allegations of voter intimidation were alleged in 2000.

In the meantime, according to the Post report, the legal eagles have already begun to file suits. Case in point: Later this month, a federal judge will hear a case brought by Rep. Robert Wexler, D-Fla., who wants Florida to require a paper record of electronic votes.

Furthermore, just this week AFL-CIO and other unions sued Florida, claiming the state has failed to process numerous new registrations in a timely manner – with a disparate impact on minority groups.

Democrats have already prevailed in one lawsuit in New Mexico, which argued voters shouldn't have to show ID at the polling place because should a procedure would have disproportionately affected minority voters.

According to the New York Law Journal, the lawyers are as deep in the fray as ever this year – with the Democrats back on top of the lawyer-contribution list. Kerry/Edwards has received $23.2 million from lawyers, according to the latest figures – 1.7 times the $13.6 million for President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney.

Four law firms rank among Kerry’s top 10 contributors, including New York based Skadden Arps.

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Marc Elias, the general counsel for the Kerry camp, has revealed that the campaign intends to be able to "fight five statewide recounts and still have funds available to the campaign." "It's a case of Florida gone national," comments University of Virginia professor...
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2004-00-14
Thursday, 14 October 2004 12:00 AM
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