A Lament

“It is not who votes that counts, but who counts the votes.” — Joseph Stalin. “I’m not like George Bush. If he wins or loses his life goes on. I will do anything to win.” — Al Gore quoted in News week, 1999.

For a short time on Election Day I was certain that Al Gore had won the presidential election. The networks had called the state of Florida for Gore and Bush had also lost both Michigan and Pennsylvania. It was inevitable that Gore would win the presidency at least in the Electoral College.

As one can imagine, I was very disappointed. Despite my despondency, I still had to pick my brother up at the airport. Out of touch for a few hours, I was alone with my thoughts and rapidly came to grips with the results. If Gore had been elected, well I would just have to accept it. It is possible to profoundly disagree with the elected choice, while still recognizing the legitimacy and authority of the decision. I do not want disappointment to descend into disillusionment or to let anger create cynicism.

However, the continuation of the Clinton-Gore scorched Earth policy in political competition erodes the political faith necessary for a free society to maintain the legitimate continuity of leadership.

When Clinton managed to use his political popularity and vicious attacks on the independent counsel to escape conviction in the Senate, I accepted it. The Founders had envisioned the removal of the president to be in part a political contest. The people were not prepared to remove Clinton, so neither was the Senate.

When Clinton ordered a military attack on what turned out to be an aspirin factory that conveniently drew attention away from his impeachment troubles, I argued on Clinton’s behalf. I believed that no patriotic person, much less a president, would countenance military action for personal political gain.

When it became clear that significant monies from the Communist Chinese had found their way into Clinton’s re-election campaign, I never believed that Clinton would support policies he believed would not be in the best interests of the United States in exchange for the funds.

Once again, Gore (Clinton continued) mounts a war against presumptive legitimacy and good faith in the political culture. Unfortunately, statistical evidence can no longer be martialed on behalf of this faith. The evidence suggests at best an inadvertent and at worse a deliberate effort to manufacture votes on behalf of Al Gore and to effectively steal an election.

In Florida, the election for president was so close that an automatic recount was triggered. Most of these recounts were made by machine. Remember these recounts did not consider contested ballots where two or no candidates for president were selected. These were generally valid ballots that were sent through the machines twice. One would expect that the “corrections” would break to the advantage of both Gore and Bush in reasonable proportion to the popularity of the candidates in the different counties.

Generally, this assumption was true. The corrections in most counties were statistically consistent with the original count. However, in Gadsden, Orange, Palm Beach, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk, and Volusia Counties, the vote broke to the advantage of Gore far in excess of what could be expected statistically. Indeed, in these counties the chances were less than 1% individually, and far smaller collectively, that the votes broke this way randomly.

Pinellas County found 14 new Gore votes and only 1 new Bush vote despite the fact that Gore received 52% of the original vote. With such small numbers, however, it is hard to draw strong conclusions.

Palm Beach County is different. There Gore received 787 new votes as compared to Bush’s 105 votes. Even excluding the 19 new Gore votes received in a limited hand count, the Gore increase in votes from Palm Beach’s first recount was statistically incredible. In Gadsden County, 187 additional votes were counted and they broke voted 91% for Gore, while the county overall broke 67% for Gore. To believe there was not something peculiar going on in these places requires faith in election officials only marginally less intense than Abraham’s faith when he offered his son Isaac as a sacrifice.

Add to this the fact that a number of Republican observers have filed formal affidavits, under penalty of perjury, charging election official Carol Roberts, a Democratic activist, with piling Bush ballots in Gore stacks and poking chads with her finger nails. Carol Roberts has not recused herself and she continues her allege practices unabated.

It is true that in Palm Beach County every vote is examined by a Republican and a Democrat. However, when there is controversy, the election board, dominated by Democrats, has invariably decided in favor of adding a Gore vote and not adding a Bush vote. Equity seems no where in sight. Democrats control the machinery of the elections in the few counties under dispute and the statistics of the first recount and the observations on the ground do not lend credence to the election process in these heavily partisan counties.

Please, please someone convince me that this election is not being stolen. I want to believe in the legitimacy of this election, but I find it difficult. Will the legacy of Clinton-Gore finally be the undermining of political faith? Is winning, at any cost, the only thing that really matters?

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