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Our Long National Nightmare Is Just Beginning

Monday, 13 November 2000 12:00 AM

Scenario 1. Per Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris' ruling, George W. Bush's unofficial lead of 327 votes as determined in last week's recount is made official on Tuesday, pending the certification of absentee and overseas ballots on Friday. Despite the Democrats' howls of outrage, the partial hand counts performed in heavily Democratic precincts this past weekend are not included in the recount.

Scenario 1.01. The absentee and overseas ballots confirm on Friday that Bush is the victor. Bush becomes president.

Scenario 1.02. To most people's surprise, the absentee and overseas ballots wipe out Bush's minuscule lead and put Gore ahead. Gore becomes president.

Scenario 2. Refusing to accept the exclusion of the hand count, the Gore forces publicize the unofficial results of the hand count, which happen to show just enough additional Gore votes to overcome Bush's 327-vote advantage. Gore's people tout these figures as proof that Gore really won Florida and has been robbed of the presidency. Democratic operatives and the media launch a national campaign attacking the legitimacy of Bush's election and pressuring Bush electors to switch their vote to Gore to reflect the will of the people.

Scenario 2.01. This effort fails. Bush wins the electoral vote.

Scenario 2.02. The effort partially succeeds, resulting in an Electoral College tie that transfers the election to the House of Representatives.

Scenario 2.03. The effort succeeds. Gore is chosen by the Electoral College with the help of a handful of Bush electors who explain their action by saying that they had to do the "right thing" to save the country from an undemocratic election.

Scenario 3. In response to Harrison's ruling, the Gore forces find a judge who extends the Florida deadline, enabling the hand count to continue in predominantly Democratic counties.

Scenario 3.01. Facing certain loss from this selective process, Bush demands that all counties and precincts in Florida be hand counted, not just the predominantly Democratic ones. Though the legal deadline for making this request has passed, public opinion and a sense of fundamental fairness demand it. Florida undertakes a hand count of all its 6 million ballots, a job that takes several weeks.

(a) As a result of this statewide hand count, Bush wins Florida and the election.

(b) Alternatively, Gore wins the statewide hand count and the election.

Scenario 3.02. Though Bush wins the right to conduct a full hand count in Florida, this massive endeavor cannot be completed by the Electoral College deadline of Dec. 18. With Florida's undetermined 25 electoral votes excluded from the electoral-vote total of 538, Gore takes a majority of the remaining 513 electoral votes and occupies the presidency.

(a) To forestall this outcome (I admit, this one's a real stretch), the Bush campaign launches recounts – including hand counts – in several other closely contested states already declared for Gore. Since those hand counts also cannot be completed by Dec. 18, those states are also excluded from the Electoral College vote, and Bush wins.

Scenario 3.03. After a judge gives the go-ahead for the hand count in Democratic districts, Bush requests but is denied a full hand count for Florida. The hand counts in the predominantly Democratic counties – but in no Republican counties – are added to the official state total. Gore carries Florida and the election.

Scenario 3.04. After losing the right to conduct a full hand count in Florida, Bush turns his attention elsewhere and succeeds in getting recounts in Iowa and Wisconsin. In a huge surprise, Gore's approximately 6,000-vote margins in Iowa and Wisconsin melt away and Bush wins both states, which along with New Mexico give him 269 electoral votes. Gore, with Florida and Oregon in his pocket, also gets 269 votes. The election goes to the House of Representatives.

Scenario 4. Declaring a state of emergency as a consequence of all this electoral confusion, President Clinton suspends the election and remains in the White House after Jan. 20, 2001. According to opinion polls, only 19 percent of the American people regard Clinton's suspension of the Constitution as a "serious" problem, while 62 percent regard it as a routine response to a hard-to-determine election.

If you think that last scenario is impossible, you must also believe it impossible that the American people, watching an attempted coup d'état being carried out before their eyes, would tell pollsters that this was the routine functioning of democracy (ABC World News Tonight, Nov. 13, 2000).

You must also think it impossible that American college students would speak openly on television of having voted multiple times in the presidential election and act as if there was absolutely nothing wrong with this.

And you must also think it impossible that the American people and the Congress would have allowed a criminal to continue to occupy the office of president of the United States for the last two years, with all the power, honors and emoluments pertaining thereunto, while they kept congratulating themselves that life in America was better than it had ever been before.

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Scenario 1. Per Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris' ruling, George W. Bush's unofficial lead of 327 votes as determined in last week's recount is made official on Tuesday, pending the certification of absentee and overseas ballots on Friday.Despite the Democrats'...
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Monday, 13 November 2000 12:00 AM
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