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Jewish World Review Nov. 30, 2000 / 3 Kislev, 5761

Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell
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Shameless lies -- FLORIDA has now given us the most famous dimples since Shirley Temple and the most famous long count since Tunney and Dempsey. Meanwhile, the Gore camp has given us the most shameless lies since Bill Clinton.

Lie number one is that there are "uncounted votes" out there, which should be counted because "every vote should count." Not only have all the votes been counted, partisan guesses about ballots by officials in heavily Democratic counties have also been counted as if they were votes -- and Gore still lost. This guesswork was imposed by the Florida Supreme Court, which substituted its discretion for the discretion which the written law gives to the Florida Secretary of State.

Sometimes courts step in because there has been an abuse of discretion by some official. But Secretary of State Katherine Harris did nothing more than decline to extend the deadline imposed by law. What does discretion mean if you cannot even decline to provide an exception to the written law?

Had Katherine Harris imposed some additional requirement of her own, that might have been a possible abuse of discretion, but everything that her raucous critics are objecting to consists of her declining to provide exceptions -- first, to the deadline established by state election laws and then to the new deadline established by the Florida Supreme Court.

Every national election, as well as many state and local elections, produces many ballots that cannot be counted for any number of reasons. Sometimes the voter has voted for two candidates for the same office and sometimes the voter has failed to vote for any candidate for a particular office.

What is unique about the Florida election is that these very common situations have been hyped in the media as "uncounted votes" and hand recounts have been launched -- but only in heavily Democratic counties -- thanks to lawsuits and spin by the Gore propaganda machine, as well as judicial activism by courts ignoring the law to impose their own idea of how elections should be run.

This process has generated its own additional lies. One is that counting "dimples" as votes has been common in other states. An Illinois case cited by Gore's lawyer David Boies, who got an attorney in that case to make a sworn statement backing him up, turned out to say exactly the opposite of what was claimed. "Dimples" were shot down by an Illinois judge, whose decision was upheld by an appellate court.

Keep that in mind the next time Boies comes on TV talking about wanting "accuracy."

What are called "dimples" are simply dents in a ballot which was never perforated. A "dimple" remains firmly attached to the ballot card by all four corners. This is what they want to count as "votes" in heavily Democratic counties selected by Gore and his lawyers, while only perforations count as votes in the rest of the state.

Another big lie which the truth has not yet caught up with in most of the media is that military ballots had to be disqualified because they lacked postmarks. Here again, the Gore lawyers have engaged in spin. The directive that went out to attorneys for Democrats across the state of Florida told them to object to military ballots without postmarks before the envelope was opened.

Why before the envelope was opened? Because the law allows military ballots without postmarks to be counted if they contain a signed and dated statement within the envelope. But if gullible or compliant election officials tossed military ballots aside unopened, in response to legal challenges, then these very real votes would not count, while guesses elsewhere would.

The most disgraceful -- indeed, corrupt -- action of the Gore camp has been trying to get Republican members of the electoral college to vote for Gore, even though their constituencies elected them to vote for Bush. What makes this truly sinister is the "quiet intelligence-gathering" about these electors reported in the November 16th Wall Street Journal.

In other words, Democratic operatives have been out digging up dirt on these Republican electors' past before trying to "persuade" them to change their vote. This is blackmail.

Yet this outrage -- which could prevent hundreds of thousands of real votes from counting -- has received far less attention in the media than Katherine Harris' makeup, which media pundits have been reduced to attacking. Shameless is the only word for it.

JWR contributor Thomas Sowell, a fellow at the Hoover Institution, is author of several books, including his latest, A Personal Odyssey.


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© 2000, Creators Syndicate