SharksWithLasers -- Seth Cooper

A CUTTING-EDGE BLOG FOR THE WORLD OF THE 21st CENTURY, Currently operated by Seth L. Cooper, a 27 year-old attorney in Seattle (sethlcooper at comcast dot net)

Monday, February 21, 2005

BARONE ON THE GORE-GREGOIRE SELECTIVE BALLOT-COUNTING GAMBIT. Today’s must read article reflecting on the election mess in Washington State comes from Michael Barone. In “2000 Changed Everything,” Barone analyzes the political damage to the Republicans and corresponding fallout for the Democrats from Al Gore’s strategy of challenging election process in Florida--dragging out the process and attempting to de-legitimize George W. Bush’s Presidency. Barone’s then surmises that the first Florida State Supreme Court decision in the 2000 Florida fiasco--concerning the selective recounts of four counties--serves as precedent potentially helpful to the pending lawsuit in Chelan County over Washington State’s contested Governor’s race.

According to Barone:

What might have hurt the Democrats even more, perhaps, is if Gore's strategy had been successful and he had been installed as president, thanks to the partial hand count sanctioned by the six-to-one Democratic-appointed Florida Supreme Court.


In Bush v. Palm Beach County Canvassing Board, the Florida Supremes had their decision vacated by a unanimous U.S Supreme Court—who sent the matter back to Florida for further explanation. (Bush v. Gore was the decision that followed later, essentially ending the matter.)

Barone goes on to explain:

A selective recount, of the sort Gore sought in Florida, has made Gregoire governor, at least temporarily. But it has cast a pall of illegitimacy over her far greater than that cast over George W. Bush by the Florida result.


Without a doubt. Dino Rossi won two out of three recounts in Washington, with mystery ballots and voting irregularities aplenty. Barone also rightly points out the immense popularity that Rossi still enjoys with voters in the state.

Barone concludes:

Of course, no two cases are exactly alike. But now we have a better idea of what a Gore presidency secured by a selective recount would have been like. The negative reverberations from Gore's decision to seek a selective recount would have been even greater than they were. It's unfortunate that he didn't seek a statewide recount or that he didn't follow Richard Nixon's example and decline to contest a close election.


With the pending suit in Chelan County, Christine Gregoire is in a precarious position--despite her installation as Governor. While she has been duly sworn in as Goveror, Provisional Governor Gregoire might be a more fitting title for her at this time. She has thus far succeeded in overturning the outcome of two ballot counts with an Al Gore-inspired strategy. But Gore’s strategy didn’t withstand scrutiny in the courts--and even the Democrats know this. Could this be part of the reason why the Washington State Democratic party has been intent on delaying the case in Chelan?

Whereas majority in the state legislature has abdicated its duty to forthrightly confront the situation, the wheels of justice continue to slowly turn in a small county courthouse in the middle of the state. And one can be that Provisional Governor Gregoire will NOT be missing any deadlines in THIS case...

Barone also has a new article at U.S. News & World Report called “Blogosphere Politics.” Yet another important read for bloggers.

UPDATE: Some sharp commentators at Sound Politics have correctly pointed out that, contrary to what Barone appears to be saying, Gregoire did NOT seek or obtain a selective recount of one or a few counties--as Al Gore did in 2000. I did not even take note of this in my initial readings of the article, as I interpreted Barone as speaking to a greater level of generality about contesting elections and fixiating upon one or a few counties. The election procedures and legal technicalities involved in both situations are distinct, yet Barone is onto something.

(Cross-blogged at Sound Politics.)

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