Gore Asks Florida Justices To Set Aside Bush Victory
U.S. Appeals Court Rejects Bush Bid Against Recounts
By JACKIE HALLIFAX
.c The Associated Press
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (Dec. 6) - Al Gore asked Florida's highest court today to set aside George W. Bush's certified victory in the state and to order the immediate counting of thousands of disputed ballots to settle the ''fundamental question'' of which candidate got more votes.
''Time is of the essence in this matter,'' Gore said in papers filed with the Florida Supreme Court. ''If the office at issue was not the presidency, ... delaying ballot counting until after all other issues are resolved would not be such irremediable and egregious error.''
With the White House at stake, the Democrat asked the high court to overturn Leon County Circuit Court Judge N. Sanders Sauls, who upheld Bush's 537-vote victory and refused to order a hand recount of some 14,000 disputed ballots.
Bush's team asked the court to dismiss Gore's appeal and uphold Sauls' ruling, calling it ''well-reasoned and careful.'' The Bush lawyers said the great public interest would be ''frustrated, not furthered, by prolonging these legal proceedings''
They also said Gore would fail even if the Supreme Court reversed the ruling. ''Yet another recount on any significant scale would likely prove futile,'' Bush lawyers wrote.
The Bush lawyers also asked the court, if it accepts Gore's case, to first settle an earlier case sent back to it on Monday from the U.S. Supreme Court.
That case involves earlier hand recounts that trimmed Bush's statewide lead from 930 votes to 537. The Florida Supreme Court allowed those recounts to be added to the state's official tally, but the nation's nine justice on Monday vacated that decision and remanded it back to the state court to rethink its position.
Gore's team believes if the 14,000 disputed ballots from Palm Beach and Miami-Dade counties are counted the vice president would overtake Bush and win the state's decisive 25 electoral votes.
Sauls ruled on Monday that Gore had failed to make a case why such a dramatic action should be taken nearly a month after Election Day.
With time running out to name Florida's presidential electors by a Dec. 12 deadline, the state high court agreed to hear Gore's appeal immediately, setting oral arguments for Thursday.
While legal papers were filed in Tallahassee, a federal appeals court in Atlanta ruled against Bush's bid to throw out the results of manual recounts in three Florida counties. In its decision, the court said Bush - who was ahead of Gore before the recounts as well as after - had not been irreparably harmed. At the same time, the judges made clear they were not ruling on the constitutional points raised by the Texas governor.
On yet a third legal front, Democrats went to court today in hopes of getting as many as 24,000 absentee ballots thrown out because Republicans were allowed to complete ballot applications.
A trial got underway in the Seminole County lawsuit, where 15,000 absentee ballots were in question. And, in a nearby courtroom, pretrial motions were made in the Martin County case, where 10,000 are in dispute.
Either suit, although not openly embraced by the Gore legal team, had the potential of switching the lead in the race from Bush to Gore since Bush won the absentee ballots by a 2-to-1 margin. Republican lawyers argued in the unprecedented cases that a voter's right to be heard outweighs any technical problem with ballot applications.
The state Supreme Court last month provided Democrats their greatest legal victory to date when it extended by a week the date by which counties could conduct hand recounts.
After the extension failed to put Gore ahead, he challenged the certified Florida results in court, forcing a marathon weekend trial capped by Sauls' dramatic ruling from the bench Monday.
Sauls rejected Gore's request for a manual recount in two counties along with his plea to overturn Bush's victory in the state that stands to pick the next president when it formally awards its electoral votes.
Sauls concluded that Gore had not proven the results of the election would change even if his legal arguments won out and the court conducted hand recounts.
Florida Supreme Court spokesman Craig Waters said the justices had allotted an hour Thursday for oral arguments, 30 minutes apiece. He said lawyers would discuss whether the court should decide the case as well as the issues.
Joseph Lieberman, Gore's vice presidential candidate, said the Florida Supreme Court would be ''the final arbiter'' of the election dispute.
Gore himself said he didn't feel ''anything other than optimistic.''
He made his biggest mention yet Tuesday of the lawsuit in Seminole County. He is not a party to the suit but the case carries enough potential votes to make him president.
The vice president said it appeared that enough applications for potential Democratic absentee votes to give him victory were thrown in ''the trash can by the supervisor of elections there.''
He said the Democratic votes were lost while Republicans were unfairly allowed to correct absentee ballot applications.
Democrats seeking to throw out nearly 10,000 Martin County absentee ballots said Republicans not only tampered with application forms, but also were allowed to remove them from the elections supervisors' office. A judge heard a motion Wednesday to dismiss the lawsuit. The hearing was recessed after 90 minutes to allow lawyers to join the Seminole case.
On other legal fronts:
- Rep. Corrine Brown, D-Fla., along with other black Jacksonville-area politicians and the Rev. Jesse Jackson's Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, is suing the Duval County canvassing board, claiming the county used a confusing ballot and turned away blacks from the polls who did not have a voter-ID card or photo ID.
- A judge in Pensacola listened as Republican lawyers urged that hundreds of rejected overseas ballots, mostly from military personnel, be counted. U.S. District Judge Lacey Collier promised a prompt ruling.
Gore endorses lawsuits to reject votes
By Bill Sammon
THE WASHINGTON TIMES
Visit our Election 2000 page
for daily election news and analysis
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. Al Gore, whose post-election mantra has been to "count every vote," yesterday for the first time endorsed Democratic lawsuits seeking to throw out more than 20,000 absentee ballots in Seminole and Martin counties. Top Stories
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The dramatic shift in strategy came just hours after the Florida Supreme Court announced it might not accept the vice president's appeal of a lower court's sweeping rejection of his lawsuit contesting the election.
Even if the case is accepted, legal professionals doubt the court would reverse Monday's ruling by Leon County Judge N. Sanders Sauls.
So while Democrats have agreed to take their fight no further than the Florida Supreme Court, yesterday they expanded their definition of that fight to include the Seminole and Martin cases.
The expansion might buy a little more time for the Democrats, who are worried the Florida Supreme Court might swiftly reject or perhaps not even hear Mr. Gore's appeal of the Sauls ruling.
"Those two cases are likely to travel the same route as the case that went into Judge Sauls' court and will end up in the Florida Supreme Court," the vice president said of the Seminole and Martin lawsuits. "All of the current controversy will end up being resolved, one way or another, in the Florida Supreme Court."
Gore officials now hope that resolution will be a dramatic, last-minute victory via the Seminole and Martin cases.
While acknowledging these lawsuits are politically unpopular, the Gore team increasingly views them as a potentially cleaner legal victory than the Sauls case, which suffered a crushing repudiation of each and every Gore argument.
The shift in strategy also prevents Mr. Gore from being locked into a "sudden death" scenario that hinges on the outcome of the Sauls case alone.
Mr. Gore cannot lose the Sauls appeal until at least tomorrow, by which time he might score at least a tentative victory through the Seminole and Martin cases, which go to trial today.
Mr. Gore's willingness to embrace two lawsuits that until yesterday he considered radioactive signaled the vice president's growing desperation.
With the post-election debacle entering its fifth week and the deadline for selecting Florida's 25 electors just six days away, the vice president is rapidly running out of time and legal options.
Even the plaintiffs in the Seminole and Martin lawsuits one of whom has strong connections to Mr. Gore acknowledge that no ballots are tainted.
Rather, they say that Republicans but not Democrats were let inside election headquarters to help fill out some of the absentee applications.
"The Democratic Party chair was denied the opportunity to even look at the list of applications," Mr. Gore said of the Seminole case.
"The Republican Party workers were allowed to roam around unsupervised inside the office and bring their computers in and fix all of the ballot applications for one side, even as the Democrats were denied an opportunity to come in, denied a chance to even look at the application. And those applications were thrown out.
"Now that doesn't seem fair to me," he said. "And apparently in Martin County, they were able to go in and take all the applications home with them."
Although Mr. Gore repeatedly pointed out that he is "not a party" to the Seminole and Martin cases, he clearly considers them his best hope of erasing Texas Gov. George W. Bush's certified, 537-vote victory in Florida.
The vice president emphasized that "more than enough votes were potentially taken away from Democrats because they were not given the same access that Republicans were."
But in order to gain those votes, the vice president would have to disenfranchise at least 13,000 voters whose ballots and applications, by all accounts, were untainted.
That's because of the 15,000 ballots that Democrats want to discard in Seminole, only 2,000 resulted from applications that were completed with the help of Republican officials.
But because there is no way to retroactively match ballots to their corresponding applications, the county would have to throw out all 15,000 of its absentee votes. That would give Mr. Gore a net gain of about 4,800 votes more than enough to overturn the Bush victory.
To protest this scenario, scores of Republicans from Seminole County showed up yesterday outside the Leon County Circuit Courthouse, where the lawsuits are being tried, and chanted: "Count my vote."
Ironically, it was the same chant used earlier by Democratic demonstrators in Palm Beach and Miami-Dade counties, predominantly Democratic areas where Mr. Gore claims many votes for him were never tallied.
The demonstration occurred during a pre-trail hearing in the courtroom of Leon County Circuit Judge Nikki Clark, a Democrat who was passed over for an appellate position by Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, brother of the would-be president.
Aside from the Seminole and Martin cases, Mr. Gore still is pursuing a full-throated appeal of the Sauls case. Although it is considered a long shot, the vice president cannot afford to forgo any of his dwindling legal options.
Yesterday, the Florida Supreme Court gave both sides until noon today to submit written briefs on whether it should re-examine the Sauls ruling. Each side then will have 30 minutes to make oral arguments on the same question, beginning at 10 a.m. tomorrow.
"The court has not actually taken the case," cautioned court spokesman Craig Waters. "It is simply scheduling arguments and will hear arguments."
But Mr. Gore's running mate, Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut, expressed confidence that the Florida Supreme Court will hand the White House to him and his boss.
"Judge Sauls' decision was a disappointment," Mr. Lieberman said. "We believe, and our lawyers certainly believe, that that decision was wrong on the law.
"And we therefore go to the final arbiter the Florida Supreme Court, the system of justice, the rule of law for a judgment in this case, which we think will be the final judgment, and we hope, and sincerely believe, will be a favorable judgment for us," he added. "We're also confident that this can be done expeditiously, both the judgment of the Florida Supreme Court and the count of that ballots that we hope and believe will result from that judgment."
But even if the Florida Supreme Court rules for the Gore-Lieberman ticket immediately after hearing arguments tomorrow, that would leave only five days in which to count ballots.
While that might be possible if Mr. Gore can limit the tally to what he considers the most promising 14,000 ballots from Palm Beach and Miami-Dade counties, it would be much more difficult if the court rules that all counties would have to recount their ballots, which add up to more than 1 million.
Even if such a count was completed and the Democrats were able to force Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris a Republican who was co-chairman of the Bush campaign in Florida to certify a Gore victory, the state legislature stands poised to restore Florida's 25 electors to Mr. Bush on Tuesday, the federal deadline.
The Republican-dominated legislature has not yet called a special session because it feels such a move is unnecessary and politically unpopular.
Nonetheless, lawmakers have shown a willingness to step in notwithstanding public relations considerations if their inaction would result in a Gore presidency.
"Republicans want George Bush to win and will make sure that happens," Democrat Lois Frankel, Florida House minority leader, acknowledged yesterday.
To discourage that scenario, Democrats flew more than a dozen protesters from Miami-Dade to the state Capitol here yesterday. They accosted Republican House member Mario Diaz-Balart in a corridor and one exclaimed: "You should be ashamed of yourself."
The group then headed into the office of House Speaker Tom Feeney, demanding an audience with the lawmaker. An aide asked the group to wait in the hall or he would have to call security.
"Now you want to threaten us?" said one of the demonstrators, Greg Ullman. The group later dispersed.
The legislative and judicial branches of Florida government now have more control over the selection of the president than the federal courts, which have waded into several aspects of the post-election quagmire.
Yesterday, a federal appeals court in Atlanta heard arguments in two Republican lawsuits that question the constitutionality of hand recounts in only a few Democratic counties. The lawsuits charge that these recounts, which were demanded by Mr. Gore, dilute the impact of votes cast in the rest of Florida's 67 counties.
All 12 justices of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals mulled whether this amounts to a violation of the equal protection clause contained in the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Meanwhile, lawyers for Mr. Gore and Mr. Bush filed written briefs yesterday with the Florida Supreme Court in a case adjudicated Monday by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Specifically, the higher court vacated the lower court's extension of Florida's election certification deadline to accommodate tardy recounts in Democratic counties.
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that its counterpart in Florida had failed to justify such a decision and instructed it to try again. The Florida court, in turn, asked for briefs on the matter from both the Bush and Gore camps.
Why Al Gore is cooked
© 2000 WorldNetDaily.com
It is entirely possible that Al Gore really is entitled to be the new president. But somehow fate seems to have intervened and Mr. Gore is now behind the power wave. The judges in Florida, of course, are very aware that the world is watching them and to allow three counties controlled by Democrats to decide the presidency in the year 2000 seems to be inconceivable. George W. Bush won the machine-counted vote in Florida and, since that is the standard nationwide, it is enough to give the governor the White House.
That was the message that the United States Supreme Court sent to their Florida counterparts -- don't allow partisan politics to call the race. That signal was coded and cloaked with all kinds of legal mumbo-jumbo, but those of us who study power for a living heard it loud and clear and so did the Florida Supreme Court. They will go through the motions but I believe they will not dare defy their more powerful brethren in Washington and reverse the rejection of the hand count made by a judge in Leon County.
Al Gore should understand what is going on, but he might not. The true powers that be in America simply do not want the system uprooted. They don't want the economy depressed, and they don't want the dreaded lawyers calling electoral shots. The few powerful men who really run this country like things just the way they are and don't really care if Al Gore won the popular vote or anything else.
America is run by members of the federal reserve board, by a few powerful senators and congressmen who chair important committees and by the sitting president and his close advisers. The Supreme Court Justices also have some say, especially if any of the power brokers get out of hand and start wielding too much influence.
This system works very well as long as the basic infrastructure remains intact. The folks vote, machines count the votes, and unless there's fraud or malfunction the winner wins and the loser goes home. The system was not designed for a tie vote, which is what we essentially had, so here comes the chaos.
Chaos is what the powerful in America fear the most. Belief in the system is what they want the most. Jesse Jackson and his merry band of agitators are trying to make a racial issue out of the election. You may have noticed the silence from the establishment media, which usually can't get to Jackson fast enough, is deafening.
You may also have noticed that chaos feeds on itself. The more confusion, the more unsubstantiated charges, the quicker things become so unclear that no solution is possible. The assassination of John F. Kennedy is a perfect example of that. There was so much confusion after the murder that an effective investigation was impossible. I believe this was by design.
Likewise during the Vietnam War. The American government lost control of the citizenry because so many chaotic demonstrations were taking place that no effective dialogue or course of action was possible. Riots do not lead to reason. That was the one time in our lifetime where the power structure in America was defeated by the whim of the people. Not the will of the people because the people really never knew what the hell was going on in Southeast Asia. What they did know is that the government couldn't explain any of it, and lots of young Americans were coming home dead or maimed.
The current chaos in Florida is by design in my opinion. The Democrats wanted to demolish the initial vote tally and almost succeeded in doing so. But the rank unfairness of that was obvious to some of us in the press and most of the regular folks. Why should those Democrat-run counties carry so much weight and get preferential treatment? That is the key question that the Democrats could not answer.
So Al Gore is cooked. The power elite have subtly turned against him. He is now bad for business, and that is death in America. The vice president isn't a bad man, as some of his detractors would have you believe. He is simply an unlucky man. And try as he might -- his luck is not going to change anytime soon. The power elite will see to that.
House Moves to Release Money for Bush Transition
Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2000
A Clinton administration refusal to give presidential transition money to President-elect Bush has prompted House action to free some of those funds.
The chairman and the ranking Democrat on a House subcommittee overseeing the presidential transition agreed after holding a hearing Monday to co-sponsor legislation that would free more than $5 million in presidential transition money.
Those funds have been held up by General Services Administration Administrator David Barram because he said he wasn't able to "ascertain" who won the presidential election.
Reps. Steve Horn, R-Calif., and Jim Turner, D-Texas, the chairman and ranking Democrat on the Government Reform subcommittee dealing with the issue, struck the deal after Barram testified that Janet Reno's Justice Department had issued a formal advisory supporting his denial of transition assistance to Bush.
Horn and Turner said they wanted to move the legislation to the House floor for quick passage before it adjourns its lame-duck session at the end of this week. If passed by the House, the bill would face Senate action and then require President Clinton's signature before the money would be released.
Horn and Turner said the bill would provide Bush and Vice President Al Gore immediate federal funds for transition assistance and would authorize government reimbursement of private funds used by either side for transition costs once a presidential winner is determined once and for all.
Bush was certified the winner of Florida's 25 electoral votes, giving him the presidency. However, Gore has mounted numerous challenges to the certification, some of which remain unresolved.
During Monday's Capitol Hill hearing, Barram told the subcommittee he did not release the funds because federal law required him to "ascertain the apparent successful candidates" for president and vice president, which he said he could not do until the Florida recount cases were settled.
Barram's testimony came while the subcommittee heard from six other witnesses who oversaw transitions of several previous administrations.
The subcommittee was examining the Presidential Transition Act, which authorizes the GSA to provide funding and assistance for incoming and outgoing presidents to ensure a smooth transition between administrations.
During the hearing, subcommittee Vice Chairman Judy Biggert, R-Ill., said the close election between Bush and Gore should not have caused the GSA to abdicate its responsibility.
"The law gives GSA the authority to grant funds to the 'apparent' winner," Biggert said in a statement. "The law does not prevent the GSA from using a little common sense and making funds available to the likely winner."
Biggert said a third of "the precious time" for a presidential transition had already passed, "and yet no individual has been afforded the assistance provided for by the Presidential Transition Act. This assistance is needed, as the 1963 act stated, to promote the orderly transfer of executive power."
With Carl Limbacher and NewsMax.com Staff
For the story behind the story...
Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2000 9:51 a.m. EST
Gore Caught Telling Seminole Case Whopper
If you were as confused as we were Tuesday when Vice President Al Gore charged that Democrat absentee ballot applications were "thrown out" by Republican election officials in Seminole County, Fla., don't worry.
You didn't miss what would undoubtedly be a bombshell development, one as yet unreported anywhere else. It turns out that no absentee ballot applications - Democrat or Republican - were thrown out in Seminole.
Gore simply made the allegation up out of whole cloth.
"More than enough votes were potentially taken away from Democrats because they were not given the same access as Republicans," Gore told reporters outside the White House.
"Remember, according to what's come out in that case ... Democrats were denied an opportunity to come in, denied a chance to even look at the applications, and those applications were thrown out."
"Now, that doesn't seem fair to me," Gore complained.
Only the New York Daily News noted Gore's whopper, first citing the above quote, then explaining to its readers:
"The vice president misstated the central issue in the case. ... The suit does not make that allegation (that Democrat applications were thrown out). The Democratic Party did not need to alter ballot applications because the forms it had mailed to voters included all the needed information."
The New York Times and the New York Post simply reported Gore's comment without noting its inaccuracy.
Last Thursday the Wall Street Journal explained why Republicans alone were given access to absentee ballot applications in Seminole County, revealing a key detail omitted from almost all coverage of the case before or since:
"The controversy centers on Florida's requirement that applications for absentee ballots contain voter identification numbers. Both parties sent out many applications with these numbers already filled in by computer. But software error caused the omission of numbers from some sent out by the Republicans. ... There was no similar problem on applications mailed out by the Democrats."