Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

ELECTION the Route Traveled

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

ELECTION the Route Traveled

Article excerpt

No rational or reasonable person wanted it to be this way, but it is quite clear how a reluctant nation got to this point.

Americans did not object, and many sympathized, when Al Gore balked at accepting the narrow results of the election in Florida. But as the days went by -- and it became more and more obvious that he did lose, fairly and legally -- the tide of opinion turned.

Voting in Florida was done as it always has been done and in the way it was done in every other state. There was nothing unusual except that the vote was quite close, which triggered a recount that confirmed the result: George W. Bush won.

The votes were counted, twice, by machines that don't care who wins. Voters who followed instructions had their vote counted. Invalid votes were rejected impartially by the machines.

But manual recounts are another matter entirely.

Even if every vote in Florida were counted manually, it would be a subjective count by partisan humans, especially where a "dimpled chad" is involved. Nonetheless, Gore persisted and in subsequent weeks, severely tested the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government.

Some did better than others. The liberal majority of the Florida Supreme Court diminished the public's respect for the judiciary by its activism. It caused the U.S. Supreme Court to act, in the name of judicial restraint, to keep the state court and its seven members, appointed by Democrats, from allowing Democratic officials in Democratic strongholds to interpret votes as they see fit.

The Florida Legislature was brought into the picture, to take the highly unusual but necessary step of protecting the state's votes from being wasted.

Ultimately, the U.S. Supreme Court could not allow rules to be changed after the game, in order to give a partisan advantage to one side in a close election. …

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