by Joseph P. Tartaro
On Nov. 26, Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris, in compliance with the order of the state Supreme Court, certified her states election results. She declared George W. Bush the winner of Floridas 25 electoral votes, just enough to put Bush one elector over the Electoral College majority needed to become the 43rd president.
The election was not over, of course, at least not in the minds of the Democrat candidate, Al Gore. He went to court the next day, asking a judge to force additional ballots to be included. Gore also filed an official contest to the certification.
At one point, a television station I was watching showed a breakdown by county, of votes the Gore-Lieberman ticket claimed would make them the victors. If those figures were to be believed, Gore would have won by a 9-vote margin.
Of course the election was close nationwide. Unofficial national figures gave Gore the popular vote, but not the electoral vote. After all the other votes were tallied, neither Gore nor Bush could win without the 25 electoral votes from Florida.
Down to Wire
Thats what precipitated recount after recountmachine and manualand a host of legal challenges to force counting of disputed ballots in several counties as well as military absentee ballots in a number of other counties. Both camps, after waging a long campaign and spending millions, were down to counting every single vote to win the presidency.
It is not over as this issue of Gun Week goes to pressor at least it is not official yet. But if there is one overriding lesson that Americans have learned since Nov. 7, it is that every single vote is critical to every election, including a nationwide election for president.
Gore may have beaten Bush in the popular vote, but the electoral vote is what counts. And after all the court battles are over, and any possible action by the Florida legislature or the US Congress, it will be the electoral numbers, not the popular vote, that counts.
That electoral vote is still determined by the state-by-state popular vote, and thats where every American should have been deciding the issue.
On election day, the mediaespecially the television reportersgot it wrong more than once. They are still red-faced about it, and probably wont make the same mistake again. But the pundits said on election night shows and ever since that the country is almost evenly divided. After all, not only was the presidential race close, but the Senate looks like it will be split 50-50, and the GOP control of the House is by one of the slimmest majorities ever.
But there are different kinds of splits.
In number of states carried, Bush was the winner. In county-by-county population (not votes), Bush was the winner. And anyone who compared those red and blue maps on television, in newspapers and magazines, had to note that Bush won in the largest land area. Gores states were crowded into the Northeast, the upper Midwest, the West Coastand New Mexico. The bulk of the nation was shaded for Bush.
The Washington Post claimed that the election, which still isnt over (the lawyers are yet to be paid), was the most expensive election by far in US history, with an estimated $3 billion spent on the presidential and congressional racesincluding hundreds of millions by outside groups that do not disclose their donors or spendingand another $1 billion or more on increasingly expensive state contests.
The money spent on campaigns has been rising steadily for decades, but the 2000 race marks a quantum leap, up nearly 50% from what had looked like an astonishingly expensive election four years ago.
Candidates from the congressional contests to the presidential race raised unprecedented sums, with GOP nominee George W. Bush accomplishing the previously unimagined feat of collecting more than $100 million for the primaries alone.
The political parties took in record amounts of large soft money contributions from wealthy individuals, corporations and labor unionsand the practice of collecting soft money spread to candidates and elected officials, meaning that companies and others with critical interests before Congress could lavish large contributions directly on those in office or hoping to get there.
Special interest groups across the political spectrum poured millions into advertising, telephone banks and mailings, with much of the money coming from undisclosed sources. The Post said actress Jane Fonda wrote two checks totaling nearly $12 million in September for a new group backing abortion rights, while Silicon Valley venture capitalist Tim Draper put $20 million into a California ballot initiative promoting school vouchers.
For those who gauge the seemingly inexorable rise in election spending, campaign 2000 offered a number of benchmarks, according to The Post.
All that money was designed to help get out the vote, but only slightly more than 50% of eligible people actually voted.
In Georgia, voters, especially gunowners, had an extra incentive to vote on Nov. 7. In the Atlanta areas 7th Congressional District where Republican Rep. Bob Barr was running for re-election against a wealthy Democratic challenger, a raffle promoted by some pro-gunners made it possible for one lucky voter to win a 12-gauge shotgun.
Voters were to take the I Voted sticker they received after casting a ballot on Election Day to two gun shops in suburban AtlantaAmerican Classic Marksman in Norcross and Adventure Outdoors in Smyrna. They would exchange the voter ticket for a raffle ticket on a Benelli Super Black Eagle 12-gauge shotgun that normally sells for $1,000.
The day after the election, the entrants tickets were to be placed in a bowl and one would be selected to win, said Steve Frank, president of the National Federation of Republican Assemblies, a conservative group that is sponsoring the raffle.
The raffles purpose is to drive voter turnout, to get people who are interested in the Second Amendment to come out to the polls, Frank said in an interview with Reuters news service.
Yet I have to wonder why any voter, particularly gunowners who have been so threatened by the Clinton-Gore Administration, would need an incentive to vote. Apparently, even many gunowners do not understand how important every single vote really is.
Return to Archive Index