YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections


Gore Brief: Accurate Count Is Key

November 19, 2000|From Associated Press

Excerpts from briefs filed Saturday by Vice President Al Gore and others in the presidential election case. Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris and Texas Gov. George W. Bush have until today to submit their briefs. The Florida Supreme Court will hold a hearing Monday:

Gore's brief:

"The right to vote is at the core of our democracy, and the president is our nation's head of state. There is an overwhelming interest in ensuring that every vote is counted. There is a similarly weighty interest in avoiding uncertainty or confusion regarding the identity of our president-elect. It is critical that the Elections Canvassing Commission's decision be made on the basis of the most accurate vote count possible, in order to eliminate the possibility that the identity of the winner will change--or even be called into question--by the outcome of the manual recounts. Not just within our country, but all around the world, that confusion would likely generate considerable instability that, in turn, would produce irreparable injury.

"These injuries could be avoided if the secretary and the Elections Canvassing Commission simply waited for the results of the manual recounts and then took those results into account in determining the winner of the presidential election.

" . . . Taken as a whole, her approach has been Kafkaesque: She has tried time and again to direct the counties to stop counting--and then, once those directives have been set aside by the courts, she has sought to reject these votes because of the counties' failure in obedience to her directives to complete the counts on a timely basis."

Palm Beach County's brief:

"The issue presented in this petition involves two conflicting legal opinions issued by the secretary of state's office and the attorney general, on the same issue. This court has the ultimate power to direct state officers in the conduct of their duties. See Article V, 3(b)(8), Fla. Const. The dispute squarely presented by this case--whether the Palm Beach County Canvassing Board may proceed with a manual recount of the ballots cast for president of the United States--has assumed statewide, and indeed national, significance, because it affects the ultimate tally of votes certified by Florida voters to the electoral college, in an election in which the results literally hinge upon the outcome in Florida."

Broward County's brief:

"Even if the secretary's interpretation of electoral process was accurate, it must still yield when strict enforcement would override the expressed will of a substantial number of Florida voters. The first clause in the Florida Constitution states that "All political power is inherent in the people." Art. I, 1, Fla. Const. No statutory process can deprive the people of this inherent power."

Atty. Gen. Bob Butterworth's brief:

"The attorney general's legal advisory opinion is not complex. It is based on a straightforward reading of the Florida law. There is no disagreement as to what law is applicable. The only disagreement concerns what the law says. And the dispute can be resolved, we submit, merely by reading the law.

"Under the law 'an error in vote tabulation which could affect the outcome of the election' as revealed by a sample review authorizes a manual recount of all ballots. The legislatively mandated procedure for conducting the manual recount includes a requirement 'to determine a voter's intent.' The division's interpretation would convert the term vote tabulation to vote tabulation system. The difference is significant. The word 'tabulate' means to 'condense and list.' As used in the law, 'an error in the vote tabulation' means merely an error in the listing of the vote results. Converting the term to vote tabulation system changes its meaning completely, from a mere listing of votes to a description of the mechanical methods that are used to count votes.

"The division would examine only the technology for counting votes to determine if the technology was working properly. The division would ignore the issue of whether the technology correctly recorded the choices of the voters. The law, however, specifically directs that the canvassing board act 'to determine a voter's intent.' The plain meaning of these words confirms the correctness of the attorney general's legal advisory opinion and the errors of the division's views."

Los Angeles Times Articles