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18 November 2000

Well all the guys on the news
Looked so puzzled and confused
And I found myself amused cause they blew it

Well we're gettin' kinda tense
Cause we're sitting on the fence
We didn't want either one and we knew it
-- "Undecided" by Alan Frechtman (RealAudio, song starts ~1:35) from the 11 November 2000 A Prairie Home Companion

...And we're back, for another edition of "What's got Steve worked up now."

What I wanted was for the overseas ballots to decisively shift the race one way or the other. It would be best if the end margin would be so wide that the manual recounts couldn't make a difference. Then we'd have a clear winner.

Unfortunately, there aren't enough absentee ballots arriving in Florida to create a margin wide enough to tip the election convincingly in either direction. Since the margin is still in the three-digit range as I write this, it's still possible to make the argument that this or that ballot problem or voter misunderstanding caused an election-losing difference for the Democrats.

...which, while unfortunate for Gore fans and Bush loathers, is almost certainly not something that can be remedied this time around.

The Democrats could have saved everyone a lot of trouble if they had asked for a manual recount in every county instead of just in the counties likely to benefit them most. They also would have removed one of the party-line arguments you hear every last Republican make near a reporter; that the Gore campaign is only interested in grabbing the lead, not in counting every vote like they say.

The people drawing parallels to Nixon conceding the 1960 election even though Illinois' results were highly suspect (and saying that therefore Gore should have conceded by now) are leaving out a key piece of the story. The key piece of the story is that Nixon was not nearly as close to victory as Gore (his electoral total was 219, Kennedy's 303); he needed to flip Illinois and another state in order to win, and the margins in the close states were significantly greater than the Florida margin.

So the parallel breaks down right there. Would Nixon have rolled over in Gore's near-electoral-tie situation? Kinda doubt it.

On a different front, why is Oregon taking so long? This doesn't argue well for the mail-in system...

Apparently Oregon is in Gore's column now, but you wouldn't know it from the network TV maps; it's still yella.

  • The Status in Other Close States [NY Times]
    Gore has won Oregon's seven electoral votes, but by a slim margin. As of Friday, the vice president had 718,525 votes to 711,730 for Bush, a lead of 6,795 votes.

    An automatic recount would be triggered if the margin dropped below 2,800 votes. That's not likely to happen, barring unusual evidence of fraud.

This afternoon the Bush campaign played a trump card; they brought out the governor of Montana to read a litany of irregularities in the recount procedures, including: ballots found in the wrong pile a day later, people using ballots as fans, ballots spilled on the floor and stepped on, and more.

Given that evidence, if true, and given that in no count so far has Gore been ahead of Bush in the totals, I think it's over now. Without a revote in Palm Beach county (not a great idea) it's just over. Gore can save everybody a lot of trouble by dropping the push for recounts now. (I wouldn't have said that an hour ago, but having heard tales of actual recount problems now, instead of vague dark hints, I'm not as convinced of the accuracy of hand counts any more.)

The charges of the Gore campaign suppressing overseas military ballots sound like crap to me, though. Without postmarks, without signatures, without the various things needed to make such votes valid, it seems to me the counties stuck with their rules. Where's the problem? Where's the Gore campaign's hand in that?

Anyhow. The recount did triple the Bush lead, but that margin is still less than 1 in 6000; hardly a margin to crow over, even though clearly the Bush campaign will act like they received a Reagan-sized mandate.

This leaves open the question of flipping electors, though. Given all this doubt, does it make sense that all 25 of Florida's electors should go to one candidate or the other? And he's only got a two-elector margin, apparently. Hm. Maybe it'll stay interesting for a while longer.

On to other things: Congrats to Laurel on 2 years of Windowseat and Kevin on a year of Ghost in the Machine (and thanks for the recent namechecks). I regularly read both of them and recommend them highly. :)

So if we vote again
It might be wise
To go on out and find
Two other guys
We're undecided now so what are we gonna do
-- also from "Undecided" by Alan Frechtman

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