The woman under fire

By Jake Tapper

Published November 14, 2000 8:08AM (EST)

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Jake Tapper forgot to mention the overriding reason for Katherine Harris' decision: the law of the state of Florida. I am rather stunned that people who should know better can't understand that she has absolutely no authority to extend the deadline under the current circumstances. Anyone who thinks otherwise is more interested in partisan politics than the rule of law. People can and should seek an extension in court, but it is the court of the state of Florida, not the court of public opinion, that matters. Everyone involved in this matter would do well to remember this before they open their mouths and degrade the process and themselves. Having a close election doesn't make Florida a banana republic, but disrespecting the law will.

-- Mike Wohlgemuth

Are you suggesting that every vote that falls within a statistical margin of error should be rechecked by hand? Often races in my neck of the woods are decided by 10 or fewer votes -- does this mean we should delay the counting electronically to ensure every vote was punched correctly and that no one voted for a wrong candidate because he was confused by the ballot? For the record, I voted for Nader, not Bush.

-- R. Greenlund

I don't believe the law should give Harris cover. The older punch-card ballot machines fail to register 32 votes in 1,000. The newer Scantron type only fails to register two votes in 1,000. Thus, without manual recounts, votes by those using the older technology are diluted -- the very thing the Bush campaign purports to want to stop with the injunction against hand counts.

If the distribution of older voting machines was even, it still wouldn't matter, but in this case most of the older machines are in Democratic precincts. The difference -- normally insignificant, in this case very -- might well swing the election.

-- Jim Flynn

The Republican secretary of state in Florida has decided to abandon her impartiality and instead act as a partisan surrogate for the Bush campaign. Her insistence that local counties certify their vote count to the state by 5 p.m. on Tuesday is in direct conflict with the absolute legal right of local authorities to conduct a thorough and complete count in their counties in order to determine the true will of the people. If the Republican secretary of state in Florida were to act appropriately, she would support the counties in their effort to have the certification deadline extended so they can get the most accurate count possible. But with Jeb Bush being the governor of Florida, it should be no surprise to anyone that state Republican officials are becoming partisans for George W. Bush's presidential campaign.

-- Sacha Boegem

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